Choosing a paving to lay is one of the most important decisions when planning a garden. Unlike plants that can be moved or removed completely, or garden furniture that can be changed, you’ll have to live with your choice of paving for some time. Not only that, but you are likely to be constantly using the paved areas of your garden, so the combination of looks and practicalities has to be right.
Ideal choice of Paving Material
There is a wide choice of paving materials, but one type has proved its worth time and again as an ideal all-round surface for good looks, durability and practicality – and that’s limestone.
There are multiple choices of limestone colour finishes, which may surprise many who thought limestone was basically off-white. Dark or pale grey, blue-grey, cream and tan are popular as is the striking black limestone finish.
Many famous and ancient structures, such as the pyramids in Egypt and the Parthenon in Athens, are made from limestone, and it offers flexibility in that it can help create an antique, old-world or contemporary look for patios, paving and terraces.
The composition and general lighter colours of limestone make it a ‘cool’ stone – ideal for use in areas that attract a lot of direct sunlight and around swimming pools. It achieves this by reflecting heat from the sun rather than absorbing it and heating up.
While a smooth finish is often popular, there are times when a rougher type may be more appropriate, such as for paved areas that see much footfall in wetter conditions. In these situations, limestone slabs can be finished in a rougher or uneven manner to facilitate better grip.
A striking black variety can be specified, but it’s important to seal it from the start so as to prevent it fading over time to grey. If fading has already occurred, then there are colour restoration products that can breathe new life into tired and faded black limestone.
Choose carefully, however, as limestone is susceptible to acidic substances.
As mentioned above, black limestone shouldn’t be renovated with any acid-based substance, and the same goes for limestone in general. It shouldn’t be laid in areas where acid rain is a possibility, and no acid-based cleaners should be used.
If you have third party contractors maintaining your garden and cleaning surfaces, check they know what they’re doing regarding limestone maintenance and aren’t using acid-based cleaners. Your limestone’s colour can be removed with acid-based cleaners and – maybe worse – odd faded patches can result totally spoiling the look of your paving.
Proximity to fruit trees is something to be careful of; the acid from fallen fruit could damage the paving unless it’s cleared quickly.
While limestone offers a durable surface, care should be taken when choosing specific varieties as some sourced from more southern European areas may not stand up to the harsher winters. Advice from an experienced natural stone supplier should be sought to ensure you end up with the best limestone paving that will look good and last well.
Matt Coussens is the director of Milestone Supplies, which provide Roofing, Natural Stone and Reclaimed products.