Less expensive than quarried stone or fieldstone, manufactured materials such as brick and concrete offer value and easy installation, even for the novice landscaper. They are available in many shapes, colors, and sizes at your local stoneyard. If you need to match existing brick, special orders also are possible. Bricks are made of clay, fired in a kiln at 1,900 degrees F, and come in shades of red, brown, and yellow. For hardscaping purposes, bricks you want to know about are:
Building bricks -- These bricks can be used for virtually any construction purpose. They come in a standard nominal 8 x 4-inch size (which means they are actually 7-5/8 x 3-5/8 inches in size -- the mortar in between the bricks makes up the difference). They are graded according to their ability to withstand various weather conditions. Grade SW (severe weather) is used in regions that experience severe winters or for projects that come in contact with the ground (such as retaining walls and patios). Grade MW (moderate weather) is used in regions that experience moderate winters; use this grade for aboveground walls but not for patios or retaining walls.
Paving bricks -- These bricks are harder than building bricks, come in true 8 x 4-inch size, and are installed without mortar. They are used for dry-laying in sand for patios, paths, and driveways. They are graded according to how much traffic load they can bear (use type 2 or 3) and how much weather they can stand (use class SX for severe winters or MS for moderate winters).
Concrete paving and retaining wall materials have made great leaps in the past few years; gone are the plain gray versions of the past. Concrete now comes in a multitude of colors and textures suitable for any home landscape. Concrete materials are also the easiest of hardscape items to install. They include:
Pavers -- Although made of concrete, pavers function just like paving bricks but are more durable and less expensive. They come in assorted sizes, shapes, and colors; some interlock for added stability. They are used for paths, patios, and driveways.
Patio blocks -- Available in modular sizes of 24 x 24, 12 x 12, and 12 x 6 inches, patio blocks may be laid on a bed of sand and are the easiest and fastest way to create a patio. New patterns make these blocks attractive as well as affordable.
Interlocking blocks -- Used for retaining walls, interlocking blocks are a mortarless system, making them an ideal choice for the home landscaper to create planting beds and small retaining walls. (For retaining walls higher than 3 or 4 feet, we recommend professional installation to deal with the logistics of retaining that much earth.) Interlocking blocks are available in a wide range of colors. New on the market are tumbled blocks, which tone down the commercial feel.
Continued on page 5: Home Delivery