Which paving stone is right for your garden?

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So…you’ve made the tough decision between paving and decking and you’ve gone with the rock. Paving can be the pièce de résistance of your garden, tying the inside on your home to the outside and creating the perfect entertaining space. But bear in mind that it can also be one of the most expensive components of your design, so you want to be as sure as possible before you pull the trigger on the material and style.

Choosing your style

Do you need your choice of paving to complement a contemporary home and garden? If so, consider the sharper and cleaner materails like slate, granite and sandstone.

Is your home more traditional, and therefore should you be using brick or local stone?

However don’t be afraid to contrast your styles, but consider your choices carefully as your garden can have a bearing on the re-sale of your home for example. Going off-piste might be offputting for potential buyers, whose preferences you can’t always predict. You can still adopt an interesting style, whilst staying safe.

Another thing to bear in mind when choosing your material is where in the garden the paving will be. Is it surrounded by lawn? Is it immediately outside the rear entrance to your home? Is it an the end of your garden in a secluded glade? Lighter coloured paving will help to brighten a dark or shaded space, but bear in mind that light stone comes with more maintenance in terms of cleaning. Conversely, dark stone can help provide contrast in bright areas of the garden and produces a stunning dichotomy against light coloured timbers.

Sourcing your stone

Your budget will probably be the largest influence on which supplier your choose for your stone, but don’t discount your feelings on how the stone is sourced. In recent years there has been a great influx of exotic stone from overseas that is unbelievably low in price, but there have been concerns raised on how ethical those foreign quarries are. Don’t jump for the bargain bin if you’re going to be feeling inquisitively guilty later on, it can be an expensive mistake to make. Also consider that even if it has been sourced, cut and shipped ethically – do you care about the environmental-friendliness of the stone? Travelling thousands of miles by truck and boat kicks some serious carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, would you be more comfortable paying slightly more from a quarry in England? The advantage of staying local is being able to see the stone before you buy it too.

An important but often overlooked factor is the cost of actually laying your stone. One might think that the price doesn’t change depending on the stone, but it can vary massively. Consider the different thicknesses and shapes you might find in a shipment of reclaimed sandstone, compared to the uniformity of pre-cast or reconstituted paving. Speak with whoever is going to be laying your stone, it might end up more cost-effective to buy the more expensive stone that is easier to fit.

Maintaining your stone

We already mentioned that light stone can bring a heavier maintenance burden than dark, but the environment of either colour can have a big impact on how often you need to clean it. When you’re laying in a shaded area, you will find that algae grows quicker and thicker on the stone so bear this in mind. Also consider the texture of the stone, which will affect the maintenance but also the safety of the paving. Nobody wants to walk on slippery-smooth stone with a glossy algae finish.

And finally think about the drainage. In England, you now have to apply for planning permission to lay any impermeable driveway which exceeds more than 5sq metres. This will influence your stone choice hugely, and might lead you to consider other materials that you’d previously discounted.

Eden Restored is a team of passionate garden designers working throughout London, Kent and Surrey.

We deliver value-for-money on projects of any size, from inner-city courtyards to countryside cottages.

To discuss your ideas and how we can help throughout the entire process, get in touch.

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