Hardscape Mistakes To Avoid When Landscaping Your Bay Area Home

 Designing a Hardscape - Image courtesy of Unilok

Designing a Hardscape - Image courtesy of Unilok

Use A Professional To Avoid These Hardscape Problems 

When professionally installed, hardscape can add curb appeal and value to your home. Here in the California Bay area, a home that is beautifully landscaped can often bring a 10–15% premium at sale, over homes that lack a unique and attractive landscape design.

Hardscape makes an impression, whether it's a beautiful brick walkway to the front entry, a paver patio or outdoor kitchen area, or an elegant winding retaining wall complete with native plantings. Hardscape works with any home style from traditional to contemporary, and a professional landscape contractor can enhance the look and flow of your outdoor space using hardscape walkways, planters, patios, driveways, fountains, fire pits, and walls.

Common Hardscape Problems And Solutions

While pavers can offer durability and add functionality to your landscape, they can be affected by the elements. Pavers are one of the most maintenance free options when it comes to hardscape, but over the life of your landscape, even when professionally installed you may notice some problems with your paving stones.

Here are some common problems and how to solve them.

• Staining

From oil stains or tire marks in the driveway to spilled grease from the barbecue, paving stones can occasionally become stained or damaged. One way to minimize staining is to apply a high-quality sealer immediately upon installation, or during your first deep cleaning. A sealer can help prevent stains from happening and make cleanup a lot easier. When properly sealed, a quick wash with the hose will clean your pavers and make them look as good as new.

• Hardscape Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a naturally occurring process. It results from the formation of white mineral salt deposits on the paver's surface. This may cause a slight discoloration, but it is only cosmetic and does not affect their durability whatsoever. When efflorescence has occurred, one simple solution is to remove the affected pavers and flip them over to expose the clean side. As a precaution, always have your contractor leave some extra stones in the event you need to make a quick fix down the road.

• Weed Growth

A common misconception is that weeds grow from underneath the pavers. The truth is, if a properly installed geotextile fabric is present, weed growth from below is virtually eliminated. Most weed growth on pavers come from seeds that have landed in the sand between the pavers. The best way to prevent surface weed growth is by using the correct joint sand. A professional installer will typically apply a layer of polymeric sand in the joints. This can inhibit weed growth as well as repell ants that are attracted to regular sand.

• Tree and Plant Roots

If your patio or pool area is surrounded by plantings, over time tree and plant roots can grow and shift. This can sometimes cause paving stones to lift. If the location around your pavers is lined with trees, it's likely you'll need to deal with this everyday problem at some point.

Before installation, it's important to cut and remove all tree and plant roots. If they're not removed, they will eventually decompose, cause a void, and your pavers will sink slightly. A professional landscaping company will take these precautions as well as installing a root or concrete barrier to prevent roots from traveling and impacting your pavers.

• Hardscape Shifting and Minor Earthquakes

The number one cause of shifting is soil expansion. If you live in an active seismic area like the California Bay area, earthquakes and liquefaction are potential issues that can cause shifting. If slight shifting occurs due to these factors, you can simply fill in any void with polymeric sand. If severe, you may choose to remove the affected pavers, re-level, and re-compact the area, then replace the pavers.

The Importance of Professional Hardscape Installation

While some issues like staining or efflorescence will need to be dealt with periodically, other problems like shifting, root growth, and weeds can be effectively mitigated by using a professional paver installer.

Your local landscape professional will understand the intricacies of your local geology and will install your pavers according to the needs of your location. For example, in the San Francisco Bay area, we're subject to periodic earthquakes and tremors. To accommodate shifting ground, a stone base layer is increased from 4-inches, up to 8-inches deep. Also, geotextile fabric is used to minimize shifting and settling. It can also inhibit weed growth.

Professional installation using a qualified landscape specialist can also eliminate two common problems that are typically a result of oversight or can happen when working with a contractor who isn't an expert installer or landscape designer.

• Improperly Planning For Future Growth

Hardscaping can be done all at once, or you can add walls, walkways, and a patio separately over time. One big mistake is not planning for the future. Hardscaping is expensive and once completed, difficult to move. If you plan and install a patio, then in a few years decide you'd like to build a fireplace in the space, you can't move the patio.

Work with a professional contractor who will take a big picture outlook and create a plan for your entire space. The beauty of hardscaping is that with a plan, you can add to your outdoor living space over time.

• Improper Drainage

Failing to take drainage into account when creating your outdoor environment can create major problems down the road. A professional will make sure that your patio or driveway drains away from the house. The can even design drainage so the water can nourish plantings!

Like any other home improvement project, do your due diligence. Craftsmanship, quality, and service can vary widely among providers. Ask to see samples of their work, and make sure any contractor you choose to work with adheres strictly to the Interlocking Concrete Pavers Institute's industry installation guideline.

Hardscaping is a great way to add value to your home and create a beautiful landscape you can enjoy with family and friends for many years. If you're planning a hardscape project give the experts at Bayside Pavers a call. We're always happy to show you our work, samples of the high-quality materials we offer and answer any questions you might have. If you're in the San Jose area, stop by one of our two locations in Concord at 2455 Bates Ave, Ste K or our Santa Rosa location at 1619 4th Street Ste 12 for a Free Estimate.