In days gone bye it was almost essential that you have a nice green lawn to ensure that your outdoor look of your home was up to standard. But times have changed! In today's busy world, where everyone has little time to spare lawn can be neglected and start to look a bit shabby.
Sometimes a part of your lawn just cannot seem to get established perhaps due to the fact that it does not get enough sun or maybe it receives too much traffic from the family and friends.
Perhaps you may just want to give your home a new lease of life and just want to change the look that you may have become bored with.
Well a solution to all these dilemmas is at hand. Why not lay some pavers, sandstone, pebbles or even some natural wood decking.
Nowadays there is a wide variety of paving options to choose from. These include house bricks, clay pavers, concrete blocks (which can imitate sandstone, limestone or terracotta), slate, timber, cut or split stone (limestone, granite and sandstone), ceramic or terracotta tiles. Generally, pavers are laid upon a sand base, while tiles and natural stone are laid on a concrete base.
Pavers will range in price from about $27 per square metre for the brick shape to approximately $60 for 300mm squares.
If the area you decide to cover is quite large then it might be wise to consider choosing terracotta or ceramic tiles as they are really versatile and more importantly will not break the budget to buy. You must remember that they have to layed on a concrete bed because if you don't they will crack.
Another option is to give concrete tiles a try as they are cheap and easy to lay. They look just like stone but aren't porous so they will not stain easily. Another benefit is that they have a textured surface which helps make them non slip.
You can use timber in conjunction with your paving for such features as little bridges and boardwalks etc. Remember that it is important to use timber that has been treated so that it will not rot. Also it is vital not to put timber in direct contact with the soil as it requires air flowing underneath to help prevent any moisture build up. Many people use old railway sleepers as they blend in well with the garden.
Stone looks great and lasts a long time but this does come at a cost which is the fact that it costs more than other options. Marble and granite look great but they will test your budget and they also need to be buffed to remove the shine. Limestone is cheaper and has the advantage that it does not need to be sealed. You could try cast stone tiles which can give you the same effect but cost half as much.
They must be laid on a concrete slab and should be mopped regularly and can be cleaned with degreasers or enzyme cleaners. Remember not to use cleaners which will be abrasive to the stone.
If you want something a little different then you could consider loose gravel, pebbles or perhaps bark chippings as an alternative to traditional ideas.
Gravel can be quite a cheap option but as it can be a little tough on the feet you could put in stepping stones made from timber, square pavers or stone slabs.
Loose stone look great but can cost a lot of money so just use a few as a bit of a feature.
Natural clay pavers will last you a long time and will still look good to the eye. They offer skid resistance and can even be used on driveways, as long as you use darker colours that will help to hide any tyre marks and oils spills.
If you are using them around a pool you should seal them with a protective coating to prevent any possible corrosion This process should also be done to protect moss growing in dark well shaded areas and to help stop food and alcohol spills around any cooking areas.
This is an option if you have a area like an unsightly concrete or vinyl patio and your budget will not allow for you to pave the area. The answer is to use paving paint to achieve a similar outcome. You just seal the area, coat it with a slip resistant product and then paint it. To get a more paver like look you should paint on grout lines.
Where to Start
There are always little tips that can help make any job that little bit easier. One is that if you only have a small area then use big pavers as they will help make the area bigger than it is. A level change can also make a smaller garden look bigger
If you want to have that aged look then it is a matter of tipping milk or yoghurt on your pavers, concrete or garden ornaments and then wait for the moss and lichen to grow. remember not to put any on glazed tiles as it is just to slippery.
To break up a large area of pavers plant some mondo grass around the pavers. Another tip to break up the look of an area with a lot of pavers is to use circular pots and low shrubs to change the view.
When it comes to colours you should match pavers next to the house with the wall colours and if you are away from the house then it is simply a matter of matching the pavers that will blend in with the garden.
Another tip is to blend the interior and exterior areas by using the same tiles.
Remember to prepare the site well as with most jobs preparation is crucial to the life and overall finish of the job. The stronger the foundations the longer the paving will last. Another thing not to forget is to ensure that the site has good drainage because if it does not then you will experience big problems.
Never let clay pavers run against each other when laid as this can chip and damage them. It is better to leave a gap of about 2-4mm and fill it with jointing sand so they won't touch.
Make driveways super strong by laying pavers in a herringbone pattern as they will lock together and provide greater strength.
To calculate how much you will need you have to multiply the length by the width to get your surface area.
There are 40standard bricks or pavers to the square metre.
Clay pavers come in various sizes but the 230mm x 115mm x 50mm is probably the most useful as the width is exactly half the length.
Terracotta tiles come in brick and square shapes and up to 400mm x 400mm square.
You do not have to lay bricks in straight lines. A different look can be achieved by having a radial or circular pattern.
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