Top Tips for Choosing Pavers

Pavers are an affordable and versatile alternative to concrete and other materials.  Whether you’re building a pathway, patio, driveway or almost any other flat surface, pavers are both functional and good looking.  But there’s a wide variety from which you can choose.  To help you settle on the right choice, we’ve put together a list of top tips for choosing pavers.

 

Match Them To The Surrounding Structures

Because pavers come in all sorts of colours and textures, it’s easy to match them with the surrounding structures.  Looking at the elements of your home or garage are great places to start.  Matching the pavers in colour and texture to your roofing, siding or other unique features provides a sense of continuity that brings the various parts together as a whole.  Try to match to more permanent features of the surrounding structures since a paint job or replacement can suddenly render your match job irrelevant.

 

Match Them To The Natural Surroundings

If nature plays a large role in your environment, you can’t go wrong by matching your pavers to the surrounding natural hues and textures.  This may mean light colours such as tan or beige in an arid environment, darker greens in an area surrounded by forest or stony colours and textures in a mountainous region.  Taking cues from your natural surroundings can make choosing a paver a much simpler process.

 

Match Them To Municipal Character

Maybe a sports team has a huge influence on the local character.  Employing team colours in your paver choice can increase local pride and a sense of belonging.  Other municipalities might be more known for a particular style of building – say a Western or Art Deco theme.  Paver colours and styles can be used to augment that character both on the ground and on the walls of your property.  

 

Allow Them To Accentuate A Focal Point

If you have a swimming pool, fire pit or some other focal point that can benefit from being highlighted, pavers can be used to draw the eye to it and accentuate its features.  Again, colour and texture are powerful qualities that tie the pavers into their surrounding environment.  Rather than taking influence from the overall surroundings, pavers can be used to accentuate a single point of convergence.

Top Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening

raised bed gardening If you’re a traditional gardener, you might want to look into raised beds.  Adding some variety to your garden can come with several advantages.  To learn about some of the top benefits of raised bed gardening, check out this list.

Less Stooping

Traditional gardening usually requires a lot of bending and kneeling.  This can become quite tiresome.  It may even be impossible for those with mobility issues.  By employing raised beds you’ll be able to tend to your plants at a height that’s more suitable to your body.  If you have plants that require a lot of care and maintenance, consider planting them in a raised bed.  Your back and knees will thank you.

Secure Pathways

Once traditional gardens are in full bloom, it can become very difficult to walk between the rows without damaging the plants.  By using raised beds, your pathways will be kept clear throughout the growing season.  Raised beds will contain the growth and keep your plot well defined and linear throughout your landscaping.  Secure your pathways even at harvest time with raised beds.

Portability

If you need to move plants around throughout the season, raised beds can give you portability.  Places that get a lot of sun in the spring may end up heavily shaded once the taller trees fill in with leaves.  Having portable raised beds allows you to move your plants to better locations as the conditions dictate.  

Contain Invasive Plants

Certain plants such as bamboo, mint or Spanish bluebells can be extremely fast growing and quickly take over wide swaths of your garden.  By using raised beds you can still enjoy these plants without having to worry that they’ll invade every nook and cranny.  A raised bed can act as containment insurance when growing invasive plants.

Pest Protection

Using raised beds can protect your plants from pests and protect your landscaping.  Snails, slugs and other ground crawlers can quickly lay waste to young plants.  By planting them in raised beds you create an extra barrier that these pests must breach before causing damage.  Slow down the spread of pests by employing raised beds for your most vulnerable plantings. 

What are Paver Base Panels?

When it comes to laying down a sidewalk, patio or other flat surface, creating a stable base is a prerequisite.  This not only prevents the surface from shifting and subsiding, it also allows for even weight distribution that inhibits cracks and fractures.  But part of the problems of creating a stable base is the effort, materials and equipment required.  A 10 foot by 10 foot patio can involve the removal of over two tonnes of soil and replacement with the same amount of gravel.  Paver base panels are a modern invention that allows you to get around this type of labour intensive situation.  So, what are paver base panels?  Below we’ll go over the basics and how they’re used.

 

What Are Paver Base Panels?

 

 Paver base panels are polypropylene mats that replace the need for the six inch layer of gravel normally required for a paving stone patio or sidewalk base.  They are so thin and lightweight that 30 pounds of paver base panels can be substituted for over two tonnes of gravel when manufacturing a base.  Paver base panels are typically assembled with click and connect, tongue and groove style locks.  They act to distribute weight evenly and prevent paver blocks from shifting, settling and cracking.  Paver base panels are manufactured with grooves and holes to allow for drainage while also providing insulation to protect the paver stones from ground freezes and thaws.

What Are The Benefits Of Paver Base Panels?

Paver base panels reduce the amount of labour, materials and equipment required to create a base for a paver stone patio or sidewalk.  They make the job quicker and cheaper while reducing the chances of damage to the landscaping typically caused by large machinery and heavy loads.  Paver base panels also protect the screeded sand base that can often be displaced while laying down the paver stones.  If you’re working in an enclosed space or an area that’s inaccessible to heavy duty equipment, paver base panels can provide a much less complicated way of establishing a stable base on which to build a patio or other similar surface.

Asphalt vs. Interlocking Driveways: Pros and Cons

asphalt driveway These days there are a wide variety of materials that can be used to create a driveway.  In this article we’re going to compare asphalt vs. interlocking driveways:  pros and cons.  Ideally it’ll help you make a decision when it comes to the installation of your driveway.

Cost

When it comes to how much you’ll spend on driveway installation, asphalt definitely falls within the pro category.  Asphalt is one of the cheapest driveway materials available.  Interlocking pavers will cost substantially more, making cost is one of its cons.

Longevity

Compared with interlocking pavers, longevity is a con for asphalt driveways.  Although it’s cheap and easy to install, an asphalt driveway will last about 10 years.  If you experience extreme fluctuations between heat and cold, asphalt will have a tendency to begin to crack, heave and break down over time.  Interlocking pavers, on the other hand, are one of the longest lasting driveway materials available and will often still be completely functional after 25 years.  Longevity is a pro when it comes to interlocking driveways.

Maintenance

Interlocking pavers need to be sealed on a regular basis.  Every three to five years is the typical rule of thumb.  This keeps them looking clean and fresh by preventing stains from forming and keeping the colour stable.  There is some debate as to whether asphalt driveways need to be sealed.  You can find many sources that also recommend sealing asphalt every three to five years.  However, the fact that the typical asphalt road or highway is never sealed seems to confirm that you can get away without sealing your driveway.  This would put asphalt driveway maintenance in the pro column.

Repairs

Repairs are definitely a pro when it comes to Interlocking pavers.  If you find any of the pavers cracking or becoming discoloured it’s easy to replace a single stone.  If you want to repair your asphalt driveway, it’ll be a much more involved process.

Design

Compared with a black slab of asphalt, interlocking pavers definitely win in the design department.  Interlocking pavers come in a veritable rainbow of colours and the design possibilities are almost limitless.  Some interlocking paver driveways can actually be considered a work or art, something that’s probably never been said about an asphalt pad.

 

How Long Do Interlocking Pavers Last

Interlocking pavers are a popular alternative to concrete, asphalt, gravel and other materials when it comes to laying down footpaths, patios, driveways and other areas that require a flat surface.  They’re durable, affordable and provide a wide range of colours, designs and patterns.  They’re often favoured by do it yourselfers in locations that experience harsh winters as they resist cracking caused by extreme weather fluctuations.  But how long do interlocking pavers last?  Properly maintained they can last 50 years or more.  In this article, we’ll provide tips and information on how to get the most out of your interlocking paver installation.

 

Choosing The Right Pavers

Interlocking pavers come in a variety of thicknesses.  The way in which they are being used will dictate the proper thickness for the job.  Footpaths and swimming pool decks, for example, can be composed of the thinner 60mm pavers, whereas those used for driveways and parking pads should be at least 80mm in thickness.  Interlocking pavers can be used to create incredibly intricate and attractive designs in a wide variety of colours.  Depending on how they’re being used, along with your budget, will influence the right pavers for the job.

 

Interlocking Paver Warranties

Even though warranties will vary depending on the manufacturer, lifetime warranties on the structural integrity of interlocking pavers are not unheard of.  Although 25 year warranties are more common, the free replacement of a few broken or worn pavers is often well worth the prestige a company receives by offering a lifetime guarantee.  Because manufacturer defects are relatively rare, what should be more closely looked at is the installation guarantee.  Interlocking pavers will naturally settle and shift over time – even more so in extreme weather – so this will likely be more of concern than structural integrity.  

 

Interlocking Paver Maintenance

Following some simple maintenance procedures every spring will lengthen the lifespan of your interlocking paver surface.  Repeated freezing and thawing typically has the most detrimental effects on any type of hard surface, so an annual spring inspection can greatly extend the life of your driveway or patio.  If you notice shifting or sinking, the offending pavers should be removed, the base relevelled and the paver replaced with polymeric sand swept into the joints.  If any weeds start growing in the spaces they should be removed.  Power washing will brighten up the stones, while applying a sealant every few years will minimize dirt accumulation and damage.

Planting a Fall Succulent Garden

succulent garden Succulents are extremely popular plants due to both their beauty and ease of care.  They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but are characteristically known for their plump, water rich leaves and stems.  This ability to retain water makes them resistant to drought and a favourite amongst gardeners who would rather not be watering their plants on a daily basis.  Planting a fall succulent garden can act as a great transition between the fall vegetable harvest and the cold weather plants that thrive in the winter.  For some tips on best practices, check out this article.

 

Advantages Of The Container

By planting succulents in containers you can protect them from extreme weather.  Because succulents are native to deserts, they typically don’t react well to too much moisture or the extreme cold.  They’ll act as a beautiful addition to your fall plantings, but they may need to be brought inside if the weather takes a turn for the worse.  Using containers will also allow you to create the perfect soil mix to allow for quick drainage around the moisture sensitive roots.  Pick some containers that match well with their surroundings and you’ll have a beautiful fall set up.

 

Location

Succulents can grow in a variety of lighting conditions, so if you have a partially shaded area where other plants have a tough time establishing themselves, a series of succulents can make a great space filler.  To make them last longer outdoors as the temperature drops, try placing them next to a south facing wall that will radiate heat and protect them from winds and colder weather.  That said, there are a few alpine varieties which can tolerate freezing conditions, so you might want to try to include some of these in the more exposed parts of your garden.

 

Soil

Succulents need fast draining soil as their roots are prone to rotting if allowed to be continually soaked.  It’s best to mix soil with an amendment to help with drainage.  You can use an artificial soil amendment such as perlite or add sand or gravel into the mix.  If planting in a container, ensure there are holes in the bottom to allow excess water to escape.

What is the Best Temperature to Lay Artificial Grass?

artificial grassWho knew that there was an optimal temperature to lay down a patch of artificial grass?  It is synthetic afterall, so one couldn’t be blamed for thinking that temperature would have little effect on its installation.  However, there are some guidelines when it comes to laying down artificial turf, and temperature is included.  So, what is the best temperature to lay artificial grass?  In this article, we’ll find out.

 

What is the Best Temperature to Lay Artificial Grass? 

It turns out, the ideal temperature for installing a patch of artificial turf is between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius.  Temperatures higher or lower than that can cause the turf to contract or expand.  This is especially prevalent in turf with a single backing.  Paying a little more for double backing can reduce the amount of shrinkage or expansion, but there will still be some inevitable changes in extreme temperatures.  

 

Artificial Lawn Creasing

Creasing in artificial turf occurs when it’s precisely cut and installed at a temperature lower than the recommended range.  As the temperatures rise, the floor covering expands and, with nowhere else to go, it begins to bubble up and fold over on itself.  

 

Artificial Lawn Shrinkage

When artificial turf is installed at higher than recommended temperatures, it has a tendency to shrink once the temperatures begin to fall.  This will cause the covering to pull back from the edges, and possibly any seams, leaving patches of uncovered ground.

 

Proper Installation Technique

The best way to install artificial turf is to begin on a morning where the temperature is within the 10 to 15 degree Celsius range.  Start by unrolling the turf and letting it sit on the properly prepared ground for several hours to acclimatize to the area.  This step is similar to the acclimatization required when installing hardwood or laminate floors.  In the afternoon, after the acclimatization period, the turf can be cut to size in crossways strips.  Doing this crossways is important as any shrinkage or expansion will occur lengthwise.  Join any separated pieces with adhesive or outdoor tape and weigh down the seam with something heavy to give the adhesive time to take hold.  The edges can now be trimmed and pinned down with landscaping pins or framing.

 

Four Landscaping Errors to Avoid

landscaping errors Whether it’s your first chance to try your hand at landscaping or you’re trying to learn from past mistakes, it’s always good to keep yourself informed about good landscaping practices. To help you along in your landscaping knowledge education, we’ve put together a list of four landscaping errors to avoid.

 

Know How Big Your Plants Will Grow

What might look small and cute in the gardening centre can grow into a behemoth in a decade or two.  Large growing plants and trees can cause structural problems with your house or other buildings, create a constant need for trimming and cutting back and affect future spacings.  Understand the ultimate height and width of any new plants to ensure they’ll fit on your property through to maturity.

 

Beware Of Aggressive Growers

Some fast growing plants can quickly overrun your property if left to grow unfettered.  And although you might be able to buy these plants at the gardening centre, they may grow more like a weed.  Some plants like English ivy, mint and bamboo can quickly grow out of control and may spread to your neighbour’s property as well.  Do your research when it comes to ground covering plants.

 

Consider Seasonal Changes

Because we do most of our planting in the spring or summer, it becomes easy to forget that winter will soon rear its head again.  Plantings around areas that need to be shoveled, such as driveways and sidewalks, may not survive if they’re constantly covered in mounds of snow or carelessly plowed over.  You might also want to rethink a chest high hedge if it means you’ll have to throw shoveled snow over the top of it to keep your sidewalks clean.

 

Consider Your Tolerance For Messy Trees

If you have allergies or are just averse to having staining fruits falling onto your patio or car you should pay close attention to what kinds of pollen, sap or berries a prospective tree might produce.  A messy tree that produces a lot of droppings can become a constant source of frustration and discomfort.  A bit of research can ensure that your trees remain your friends throughout your lives.

The Pros and Cons of Concrete Pavers

Concrete pavers are a popular modular building material used for driveways, sidewalks, patios and more.  Composed of cement, sand, gravel and possibly colouring pigments, concrete pavers can be molded into any number of sizes, shapes and colours.  To help you understand more about these building blocks, we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of concrete pavers.

 

Strength And Stability

Concrete pavers are considered more than twice as strong, and possibly four times as strong, as regular poured concrete.  Part of this has to do with the manufacturing process of concrete pavers.  After the wet mix is poured into a mold, the mold is vibrated at high speed to cause extra compression before it dries.  And the fact that concrete pavers are distinct, individual units allows weight to be spread over several pieces to reduce the potential for any damage caused by a heavy load.  On the other hand, because of these discrete units, it’s possible for single pavers to be more easily displaced by frost heaves, tree roots and ground subsidence.

 

Installation And Repair

When it comes to concrete paver installation, a lot more precision and care needs to be used.  The base into which the pavers are placed needs to be properly prepared and each paver needs to be carefully set into place individually.  It’s a much more painstaking job than simply pouring a concrete pad.  On the other hand, if a concrete paver gets damaged, it’s a simple job to replace it with a new one.  If a concrete pad is cracked or damaged, the only way to truly repair it is to replace the entire surface.

 

Maintenance And Design

Although it’s said that concrete pavers require little maintenance, the fact that there are joints between the pavers means that they must be regularly monitored.  Weeds and other plants have a tendency to grow in the cracks which can begin to cause damage if left unattended.  Protective sealants might need to be applied on a regular basis to keep the pavers and the gaps in between clean and free of growth.  However, the same spaces that allow weed growth also makes it possible to create pleasing designs.  Concrete pavers can be arranged in incredibly artistic ways that can give your property a curb appeal that could never be replicated with a concrete or asphalt pad.

 

Three Tips for Starting a New Garden

fall shrubsMaybe you’ve always wanted to grow your own flowers and vegetables or maybe recent circumstances have made you realize the value of a backyard garden.  Whatever your reasons, starting a new garden from scratch requires more effort than throwing some seeds on the ground.  To help you get started we’ve come up with a list of three tips for starting a new garden.

Pick Your Plot

Deciding where your garden grows is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.  Ideally you want a plot that gets at least six hours of sunlight every day.  If that’s not an option you may need to be more discriminating when it comes to the types of plants you grow.  If you have the choice, morning sun is often more forgiving on your plants than the hotter midday or late afternoon sun.  And if you’re growing flowers, you should understand which way they’ll face when tracking the sun.  If you’re hoping for a field full of beautiful flowers facing your house when you get home from work, you might be in for a surprise if your house has a western exposure.

Clearing A Bed

Clearing the area you’re planning on gardening is a necessary job which often requires a good amount of time and some hard labour.  If the area is already overgrown with grass or weeds, you’ll need to remove them to get down to the bare soil.  This is usually best done in the autumn as the winter will aid smothering any growth until you’re ready to start fresh in the spring.  If you have a lot of available soil, you could consider laying the gardening bed directly over the grass.  Completely cover the grass with a layer of cardboard or several layers of newspaper and top it with six inches of soil.  The cardboard or newspaper will smother the grass, eventually decompose and allow you to begin gardening immediately.

Understand Your Soil

Knowing the limitations of your soil will allow you to amend it to allow for easier gardening.  Having your soil tested for pH and nutrients can save you several seasons of trial and error to figure out why your plants are growing so poorly.  The texture of your soil will also dictate which plants grow best.  If your soil doesn’t appear that it will support the plants you’re intending to grow you can amend it with compost, nutrients and fertilizers.