Garden paving options

2016-02-11 06:00

LIKE plants, paving materials can add colour, texture and pattern to your garden. Unlike plants, which grow, bloom and often go dormant as the seasons change, paved surfaces contribute in equal measure throughout the year and therefore need to be chosen with great care.

The most widely available paving materials fall into two broad categories, quarried stone and composite materials. Quarried stone, such as granite, slate, marble and sandstone, is dug up and shaped by splitting, cutting or crushing and therefore tends to be a premium choice.

Composite materials include bricks and pre-cast concrete pavers, which are processed and moulded into almost any shape you can think of.

There are so many different options available that choosing the right surface for your garden pathway can be quite daunting. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, and some are better suited than others to particular uses and locations. The trick is to determine which material will be best suited to your personal tastes, garden style and budget.


Stone is the most luxurious of paving materials. Although it is relatively expensive to purchase and lay, it is very versatile, offering a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. Stone with a polished surface, such as marble, is not recommended for the outdoors as it gets slippery when wet and can be dangerous.

Sandstone and slate (or slasto) are very popular outdoor paving choices. They are relatively easy to work with, and have a rougher texture ensuring that they are not too slippery in wet conditions. Sandstone is tough enough to handle any paving application and its only drawback is the fact that the colour can vary in each batch and the stone can occasionally have a blotchy appearance. Slasto is beautiful to look at and walk on, but the stone’s durability outdoors is not too great. In areas where the weather has great temperature changes or too much rain, slasto will flake and chip. It is better to lay slasto in an area that is protected from the elements. One can also get sealer to paint over the slasto to make it more durable and stain-proof.


Gravel is a great option for homeowners who are working with a tight budget, and if laid and maintained correctly, it can last a lifetime. Gravel paths should be avoided between two lawns, because if the gravel is disturbed and ends up on the lawn it can be thrown into the air by a lawn mower and end up breaking windows and cars.

To install gravel, remove all grass from the area­, lay down weed killer and then compact the soil. The last thing you want is a bit of rain that leads to the area becoming like a swamp. Also, once weeds start to come through get rid of them immediately otherwise they will take over quickly. The only way to get rid of them is to remove the gravel, weed the area and poison the soil again. Use the smaller crushed stone and compact it with a roller, this will help to make the surface firmer and more level. If the pathway is in the grass, use wood, brick or concrete edging as a border to keep the gravel in place.

Brick paving

Depending on the type and pattern you choose, brick can be used equally successfully in a cottage garden or in a grand estate. Brick, with its warm hues and inviting texture harmonises well with plants and any other building materials. Due to its size and shape, it is relatively easy to design with and install. The durability of bricks varies and generally the more you pay, the stronger the brick.

Along with stone, brick is one of the more expensive paving options, but its durability makes it a worthwhile investment.

Concrete pavers

Concrete pavers are designed to look like brick or stone and can be bought in hundreds of shapes, sizes and colours. They are very durable and are a less expensive option when compared to stone and brick. Once frowned upon, they are now a well respected paving option. Over time, if the colour has faded, the concrete pavers can be repainted with a coating that is durable enough to withstand wear and tear from cars.

Poured concrete

Poured concrete, especially when reinforced and provided with expansion joints, is one of the toughest and most durable paving options. The surface of the concrete can be moulded and coloured in many different ways to match the surrounds. The concrete itself is not too expensive, but getting it to site and laying it is an intensive job and can only be done by professionals, which can up the price considerably. Another advantage of the poured concrete option is that it can be laid over almost any surface with relatively little preparation.


There are so many different options available that choosing the right surface for your garden pathway can be quite daunting. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, and some are better
suited than others to
particular uses and

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