Versalok retaining wall and Cambridge pavers
A combination of wood and stone
Versalok and brick under construction
Cambridge circular patio
Recycled concrete set as stone
Natural stone in mortar
outdoor living space with patios, walks and walls. These hardscape
features can be constructed of a variety of materials that vary
widely in cost and durability. Here's a look at some of the
more popular choices:
warm colonial look your material of choice is brick. Brick is
available in huge selections of colors and textures. Generally,
two sizes are available: modular, to be finished in mortar so
the finished size per brick is 4"x8". The second size
is actually 4"x 8" and is set mortarless (for walks
and patios). For an equivalent square footage, brick is the
most expensive because there are more small pieces and more
labor overall. In general, a brick wall will run between $70
and $80 per square foot and a brick patio will cost between
$15 and $50 square foot depending entirely upon whether it is
mortared or dry-set, curvalinear or straight, or has a complex
or simple pattern.
Nothing bridges the
home to the landscape better than stone. It is available in
wide selection of colors, sizes and textures. It lends itself
well to curvilinear forms and can be set "dry" or
mortared in. An example of a popular application is dry-stack
garden walls where thin stone, roughly 8x8 inches but in irregular
cuts is laid flat to form the wall. The wall appears loose or
dry but is actually bonded from behind with an application of
mortar. The top layers are sealed with mortar or construction
adhesive. The finished look is reminiscent of a cottage garden.
Use the same stone selection in larger sizes for a garden patio.
Connect the patio with stone walks to deck areas or garden paths.
Another look for a stone retaining wall is stone applied as
veneer to a base construction of concrete block. This is a good
choice when you want a larger stone look to match a veneer application
on your home or have a larger (3' or higher) retaining wall.
Achieve a look of higher relief in your patios by screeding
brick chips or stone screenings between the larger stone instead
of mortar. This is one way to reduce cost and is suitable for
walkways as well. Or try just setting the stone directly in
the sod; the effect is great for preserving as much of green
as possible yet still providing a hard surface for walking or
The term cast concrete
brings to mind large sections of pre-stressed concrete used
in bridge construction. But it can also mean concrete pavers
or 'engineered' stone. Early products looked rather unappealing,
but new offerings have the appearance of natural hewn stone
or cobblestone. Special patterns are available, such as circle
kits, and the product can even be bought distressed to enhance
the natural look.
One popular retaining
wall is provided by Versalok. Stones are produced in four different
sizes and can be laid in a pattern that rivals stone in appearance.
But the real virtue of these systems is that they are pre-engineered
to withstand the stress imposed by a holding back a large embankment
and can be built as high as ten feet. The paver systems for
patios and walks provide a matching texture and look and are
durable and relatively care free. Because they are mortarless
systems, weed seed can fall between the cracks in the pavers,
but round-up and a hosing should keep that down.
wood provides the least expensive solution for retaining walls
and walks, but it also the least durable. Expect to replace
wood retaining walls in 15-20 years. The cost per square foot
is roughly $14.
A drawback to wood
is that you are generally limited to straight walls and edges.
This can be somewhat restrictive in the landscape design and
sense of flow. But where the budget is the overriding concern,
treated wood can provide a quick and least-cost solution and
provides a natural textured look and feel.