Your patio is a place of refuge, a place to sit with your family and friends, enjoying good meals and sharing stories. A nicely designed patio will make you want to spend more time outside enjoying the fresh air, especially when you can do it year-round in Florida.
Aside from design, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in a patio renovation is deciding what type of hardscaping to use. Hardscaping is the material usually used for the flooring, retaining walls and decking around a pool, fireplace or fire pit. You may also use hardscaping on bench seating, steps or to cover a built-in outdoor kitchen setting with cabinets and appliances.
First, What Are Your Needs?
As you think about your patio design and function, you’ll want to consider what each material offers and how that fits in with your vision.
Will you be barefoot on the patio in hot weather? Some materials like brick and certain pavers may retain the heat, while travertine or bluestone pavers may be easier on the feet.
Will the material you’re interested in discolor or need sealing? Talk to your patio designer and installer about how the materials hold up in various weather conditions and with installation.
What color do you want to feature? Hardscaping materials come in a variety of colors. Even if you choose one brand and style, the color pattern may vary, providing a more interesting and layered look.
What border and accent pieces does the manufacturer offer? In order to make the pattern sophisticated and complete, you might want to vary the pattern to include a different border or perhaps a mixture of sizes and contrasting shapes.
Now that you’ve determined your needs, here are some popular hardscaping materials to choose from.
Pavers are one of the most popular flooring styles for patios. The term “pavers” is something of a catch-all word for the flat-topped block or jagged-edge material, which can be made of flagstone, natural stone, travertine, marble, brick, manufactured stone, rubber, slate or limestone, to name just some of what’s available. Pavers can be uniform or varied in size.
Even laying out pavers leaves you with options. Some pavers fit together in a gapless way, using concrete, sand or just spacing to keep them together. Others pavers naturally have room in between where grass can grow.
The type of paver you choose depends partly on the look and feel of your patio and landscaping. Natural stone with uneven edges gives a more casual and unique appearance, though probably it’s better for walkways than an area where you want an even surface.
If water retention is an issue, you can install permeable pavers, which allow water to penetrate the surface and drain into the ground. You can also use pavers designed so that water can flow in between them, so you don’t have any standing pools of water after a storm.
Brick is a common and attractive material for patios. You can find a variety of brick colors available, even a whitewash color, though the size is typically the same for all bricks. Designers suggest not using the same color brick for a patio and a home, though in Florida this is less of an issue, since homes are rarely designed with brick exteriors.
Brick allows for some design freedom in that you can create different patterns in the flooring, like herringbone, basket weave or even a circular pattern.
Concrete is an economical hardscaping material with more versatility than you might expect. You can mix pigment in the concrete, giving it an even look throughout the whole area. You can also add color with a stain.
Concrete patios have a lot of design versatility, too: You can score the squares in an offset pattern, add textural stamping to the concrete and mix other material designs in, like brick. An experienced landscaper like GreenEarth can help you evaluate all your design options!
One maintenance not: Concrete can crack over time with freeze and thaw conditions — but that’s less of an in issue in Florida than in other parts of the country.
Retaining Walls And Steps
Retaining walls and steps are an additional element involving hardscaping. Often the materials will be different for retaining walls, maybe using larger stones or boulders, possibly with a flat top for seating or a uniform look. The retaining wall can be used to keep back soil and other plant material, or it can be built to hold trees or plants. Many homeowners vary the hardscaping used with the walls so it provides something different than the flooring.
Stairs also can blend with the flooring, with some differences between the stair top and the facing, so that guests can see the difference when they’re walking.
Your Hardscaping Partner
There are a lot of material types and design options out there — GreenEarth Landscape Services can guide you through what would work best for your Florida property, taking your patio vision into consideration.
Give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.