Every enjoyable outdoor living space starts with a firm foundation — literally! Most outdoor areas start with a patio, or some type of paved pad. While there are many options for creating patios (including grassy areas, crushed rock, or even bare ground), the most durable have either a concrete pad or paving stones of some kind. We’ve had the best success by far, across a broad range of yards, with patios constructed with individual pavers.
The key to a long lasting patio is in the foundation. We work with many clients who tried the “do-it-yourself” approach and found their initial attempts to save money cost them more in the long run. It’s critical to dig out the patio foundation to the proper depth, and then use the right amount of paving foundation stone to create a stable base. It’s this proper base that keeps the patio from cracking, buckling or heaving from repeated freeze-thaw cycles.
It’s also important to size the patio right. With a patio table and chairs – you need a 9 foot wide floor just to hold the furniture. The bare minimum is 12 foot wide, and 16 feet will give you a much better entertaining experience. The biggest complaint we hear about patios is that they’re not big enough!
Choosing the right patio materials
Once you’ve planned the right foundation and sized it right, you need to choose appropriate patio materials.
Concrete patios vs. paver stone patios
Probably the most common patio material is poured concrete. It’s relatively inexpensive and often used for larger surfaces, like patios, driveways and walk ways. However, poured concrete is very susceptible to cracking, heaving and shifting over time. These days you can get colored or stamped concrete surfaces – decorative, but still susceptible to many of the same issues as the plain gray slab. We’re often asked to replace or cover this type of patio with a more decorative or durable surface.
The material we almost always recommend are concrete patio pavers. They have many of the advantages of concrete – like sturdiness, durability and affordability, but without the drawbacks. The pavers come in a huge range of sizes, colors and surfaces, making them ideal for many creative applications.
Paver stones for landscaping your yard
We don’t just cover the ground surface with pavers – we use them to build retaining walls, benches, fountains and other landscape features to beautify your yard. They can also form an attractive lawn or garden edging. Because they come in a variety of shapes, the pavers can form curved walkways or walls.
We really like the versatility of pavers – they are great for covering vertical surfaces, for example. We’ve done many projects where we’ve used pavers to cover concrete steps and entryways. This is far less expensive than replacing the steps, as some homeowners are inclined to do. Patio pavers also make an excellent pool surround, raised bed, or foundation for an outdoor kitchen.
Patio pavers are also very durable. If one chips or gets stained, it’s much easier to replace a single paver than a big slab. Because they’re made out of concrete, they are hard and hold up well for many years under challenging Minnesota weather conditions.
We go from summer temperatures in the 90’s with direct sun, to weeks of below freezing winter, to in-between seasons with numerous freeze-thaw cycles. This puts tremendous stress on patios and outdoor living spaces. But because the patio is made from individual pavers, it responds significantly better to the ground movement than inflexible slabs of poured concrete. It’s also easy to remove snow and ice from the patio.
Some customers are concerned that individual pavers mean sprouting weeds, grass tufts or ant hills. We use a wonderful polymeric sand product that forms an impermeable barrier between pavers. No weeds will be growing on your patio!
Custom landscape design and installation
At Rock Solid Landscape & Irrigation, we customize each patio for your home style, yard slope, other landscape features, and your budget. There are 12 major manufacturers of paving stone products, and we can use pavers from any of them for your project.
Our installers are ICPI certified (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute), and are required to maintain their certificate through continuing education every two years.
If you have questions about patio pavers, or other landscape design considerations, please give us a call at 763-398-0739 or send us an e-mail and we’ll help you determine what would be best for your outdoor environment.