There is now a large range of paving options to choose from to suit every style and budget. Residential and commercial developments are turning away from cheap concrete paving to natural stone or porcelain and different laying patterns (We won’t talk about crazy paving)
I’d like to share some of the most popular paving materials to give you an idea of what you could use in your own garden.
Sandstone has got to be the most universally used in residential gardens now and the market is dominated by Indian Sandstone imported in. There are many natural tones from cool light greys to warm browns and pinks which are enhanced when wet. The finish can be either natural riven or six way sawn which gives a more contemporary feel with a smoother finish. There is however a cost difference here with the six way sawn needing more cutting to get the surface level and so this reflects in the price. You need to be careful to source Indian sandstone from reputable sources and to be suspicious of very cheap stone which may be unethically produced, very thin or particularly porous meaning it will deterioration quicker. Yorkstone is the English sourced equivalent if you would like to be a bit more ethically minded about air miles and it is a lovely stone used in a lot of major English cities and can be bought as reclaimed. It is however more costly than riven Indian Sandstone.
The cons of Sandstone (And Limestone) Is that they are a softer stone and so absorb more water than some other options. This encourages algae and lichen growth and means they are more likely to stain. This means you may need to do more maintenance to control this and accept the stone will gradually age (Or gain more character however you’d like to think of it)
Below: riven Indian Sandstone to the left and Sandstone setts to the right
Granite is a popular natural stone, especially in those areas that need to be tough like driveways or public areas but also can look wonderful in a garden in the right setting. There are a range of colours but the grey shades are the most popular and so they tend to suit more contemporary gardens like shown below although they are very popular used as setts (Small square or brick sized pieces) either as paths or driveways or used as dividing points like at the edge of patios, at beginnings of paths and so on. Because it is so dense it has very low porosity meaning it is less likely to develop algae and lichen growth and is more resistant to being eroded by water and footfall.
The cons of Granite is that personally I feel, when used as slabs, it doesn’t have as much warmth or character as say Sandstone so I recommend it for more modern looks. It also slightly more expensive than Sandstone.
Below: Granite setts at the start of a path to the left and Granite slabs to the right
Porcelain paving has been gaining popularity recently as a very low maintenance paving option in the garden. Interior porcelain has of course been used indoors for a very long time and in hotter climates than the UK is often used outside but it never quite fit in that context in the UK until more recently. One probable reason is the wetter weather making a very smooth surface outdoors a huge health hazard. The original external porcelain was also very thin, easy to chip and the colour was not sustained throughout the tile so the chip would show up white and the colour patterns themselves were repeated too often making it look less natural. All these issues have now been solved with most paving companies producing high quality porcelain paving in a variety of colours and textures. Because of the very dense composition of porcelain it has very low porosity so resists algae, lichen and stains (Though will still need sweeping down if dirty i’m afraid) The range of colours available means you can match it with various styles of garden though it is especially good for more modern ones as it has such a neat finish.
The cons are that you pay more for this low maintenance and hard wearing option and you do need slightly better equipment to cut it as it is so dense.
Below: Grey porcelain paving and cladding (Note this one is not my design)