Flagstone, cobbles and ledgestone - these natural elements bring life to your surroundings.
Hardscaping is the word we use now to describe outdoor surfaces and structures - the built aspect of landscaping. This can include pathways, stairs, patios, walls. It can also encompass decking, really anything that is permanent and structural in your yard.
Natural stone, when designed and installed well, has the greatest visual impact in a garden as its textures, colors and contours blend neatly into the environment and provide a beautiful pattern for the eye to read and interpret. As plants grow around the edges, this fusing of elements is enhanced even further.
Our patios are built with great care to ensure a long life (virtually forever if it's maintained) and fit neatly to give the most visually-pleasing effect. Colors and natural shapes are considered and combined in artful ways.
Stone paving can also be used for driveways, though wide flagstones are not recommended. For that you want something small and thick, like these 4" tumbled granite cobblestones. The base material also needs to be sufficiently sturdy and deep - usually for a cement-less installation there should be 5-6" of compacted crushed rock as opposed to the usual 3-4" which also means more excavation is needed.
If any stone application is going to be laid using mortar, there absolutely needs to be a sturdy, reinforced slab of concrete underneath. A stone veneer is only as strong as the structure supporting it. That being said, some masons in the UK will use a process where the base material is clean crushed stone (without fine particulate) and each flagstone is laid in a bed of mortar and afterwards the joints are grouted. That's not the method I use but some swear by it.
Flagstone comes in both random shapes like the top photo or in rectangular (also called "dimensional") shapes. The two are quarried in different ways: irregular flagstone is pried out in sheets which often break apart randomly in the process, while with dimensional flagstone (shown above) the bedrock is cut into 3' squares using a large rolling saw and then carefully pried up and cut into smaller shapes. Certain types of stone are instead made into pavers by taking big blocks of bedrock and sawing them into 2"-thick pieces which are then given a surface treatment to make them look more natural.
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