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Patios: concrete versus pavers

Gardening column
By: Kurt Voigt Special to The News Messenger
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What should I do? That is the No. 1 dilemma a homeowner faces when choosing a patio surface. Going back to an earlier article I wrote, you must first ask yourself some questions as to how you’re going to use the patio. What is your overall landscape theme in your yard? Mediterranean, Italian, northwestern, contemporary, for example? That will help you decide. Are you going to have a built-in barbecue or mobile? How permanent do you want it? Pavers can be removed easily if you need to repair one but you can’t with concrete. Concrete is a more level and joint-less surface. There are pros and cons to both. There is no right or wrong answer. What is being done with concrete today is so outrageously creative and attractive. It used to be just grey broom, rock salt and painted. Now, you can stain it (Thunder Valley Casino’s floor), stamp it, use four to six colors and releases, and install landscape lighting in it. I’ve seen some concrete work so beautiful and creative that you wouldn’t think it’s concrete. Even if you have an existing grey patio, you can stain it to look like a million-dollar job! You can stamp it with a cobble, slate, flagstone or brick stamp to make it look like those surfaces and then use the colors to make it look even more real. It’s quite impressive! Pavers have advanced over the years too, with rustic European, Mediterranean finishes and textures to give you that old European or Mediterranean charm. There are so many styles, colors and textures to choose from that it can be quite overwhelming. To observe a great example of different pavers, check out the design center across the street from A & A Stepping Stone in Ophir. You can also make benches and sitting walls out of block that matches the paver to “tie” in the material. The possibilities working with pavers and dry-stack wall block today are amazing and it’s easy - no mortar or concrete to build them. Although if building a seat wall, I usually glue the cap on for more stability. One should research both products, get pictures, look at examples, talk to contractors and check your budget. With the economy the way it is right now, especially in the landscaping field; you may find some good deals. I would first pick a concrete stamp and color, then pick a paver you like and compare prices. You should get what you want because once it’s in, it’s in ...especially concrete! It’s not a plant that you can just move. So take the time, do your homework and talk to friends or family who have either one and then make an informed decision. Kurt Voigt is a landscape designer/consultant. He can be reached at kurtrae@gmail.com.