Paths and Terraces

I have just completed a build for a client who didn’t want a lawn in the garden and as this was a reasonably sized garden and not a courtyard it required some carefully consideration to prevent a sea of hard surfaces. So with this in mind I thought I would diverge from the usual plant blog to consider the hard stuff.

I have become very selective with the hard surfaces I specify in a garden and this has been honed over the years down to a small but beautifully formed palette of products.

Stone paving

There is no substitute for quality British stone products and I will not specify any imported materials, below are my most used products.

York stone

A timeless classic which weathers and ages beautifully. Colours vary depending on the quarry but in general this is a buff colour when newly quarried.

Diamond sawn flags for all styles of design create an elegant and smart finish for both contemporary and traditional gardens.

Riven flags provide a more rustic look and can be newly quarried and allowed to soften over time.

Reclaimed flags have a riven surface but are nicely worn and smooth from years of foot traffic. These are ideal for using in a garden that already has some on site or for a garden that needs to look as though it has always been there.

Shot sawn flags have a flat surface like the diamond sawn but the top has been scored to give a textured finish which prevents the surface becoming slippery which is particularly good for areas that get plenty of use or for step treads.

Macclesfield stone.

This is a stone local to me which I like to use when it suits the style of design. This is a diamond sawn surface with a smooth finish and is a grey colour with black markings which some people find a little austere as it is not as mellow as the York but it is still a lovely, quality product and cheaper than the York.

Stone setts.

Setts are very useful to create detail and pattern on the ground and can be square or rectangular and are widely available in York stone. Reclaimed granite setts are also easy to come by and have a harder, more industrial look.

Clay bricks.

I love brick paths which look charming in cottage gardens and larger elegant designs. They give a path a real sense of direction and interest. However house bricks cannot be used for this purpose as they break up in the frost so a brick specifically manufactured for paving must be used. They have a lovely crumbly, time worn look and look even better when mossy with self-seeding plants popping up between the joints.

Self-binding gravel.

I find this a very useful surface where a large area needs covering as it is much cheaper than stone and gives a soft looking finish. The colour is buff which is mellow to the eye and works well with York stone. It is also non-slip and easy to maintain and works particularly well for rural gardens and vegetable gardens.

Pebble work.

Pebbles set in paving provide fabulous detail and texture. This needs to be done with an expert eye to look good but when it is done well it is a beautiful addition to a space. These can be used around features or as geometric patterns running down a path to draw the eye.

This may seem a limited selection of materials but they are all timeless and good quality and work well together in both traditional and contemporary gardens and in both town and country. They weather well and look better over time as the good old British weather throws everything at them. With materials like this in your garden you know they are there for a lifetime of enjoyment and will never date or deteriorate.