Patio blocks and pavers let you add function and design to your landscape. Learn about the different types you can use to create patios, retaining walls and more.
Different types of concrete blocks and pavers — including paving stones, edging stones and retaining wall blocks — let you create projects such as:
Decorative, precast concrete blocks replicate the look of stones or bricks in a variety of sizes, textures and colors. Collections — different types of blocks that share a style — allow you to tie projects together with a similar look. For example, you can create a raised planting bed using wall blocks that coordinate with pavers you use to build a patio or pathway. Collections give your outdoor space a connected, designed look.
When you shop for blocks and paving stones, look for planning guides that help you estimate the amount of material you need for different projects.
Pavers, edging stones and wall blocks all are designed to require minimal — if any — cutting during installation. They have uniform sizes, which simplify planning, and are relatively easy to install and maintain. To cut the material, you need a brick chisel and engineer's hammer or — for projects that require a lot of cuts — a power saw with a diamond blade.
In addition to the actual dimensions of the material, you may see "common" or "nominal" measurements. The slightly smaller, actual measurements represent the physical dimensions of the product — use these when calculating the pavers, stones or blocks you need for a project. Purchase 10 percent more material than you estimate you need. The excess should account for breakage, material that you need to cut and replacements for future repairs.
Blocks and pavers can be heavy — moving and placing them requires some physical exertion. You may want to enlist a helper to share the work. Consider having the material delivered to avoid some of the effort.
Before beginning a project, make sure you're aware of building codes or homeowner association rules that might apply to your work.
Before beginning any excavation, call 811 to check for underground utilities.
Use pavers — also known as patio stones or paving stones — to create patios and walkways. Some pavers have designs molded into them, giving the appearance of several small stones in one paver. These let you create patterns simply and quickly. You can also find smaller pavers to create designs of your own. Paver styles include the architectural appearance of bricks, the natural look of worn stones or river rocks and the random edges of flagstones. Read How to Lay a Paver Patio or Walkway to learn how to create outdoor living spaces and footpaths with pavers and estimate the materials you need for the projects.
Some pavers can handle both foot traffic and vehicle traffic, but many types are for foot traffic only.
Edging stones provide visually interesting borders between planting beds and a lawn. They help keep mulch where it belongs and provide a cleaner mowing and trimming line. You can create straight, angled or curved borders with ease. Some edging stones interlock for simple placement and design. Like other types of patio blocks, edging stones are available in different colors and styles to let you select the look that best complements your home. Read Create a Border Using Edging Stones for step-by-step installation instructions.
Use wall blocks to create retaining walls, raised planting beds, tree rings and fire pits. Wall blocks can look like naturally worn or hand-chiseled stones. Other styles have a clean, designed look. Coordinating wall caps are available for some styles.
Different types of blocks have different maximum wall heights, generally ranging from 2 to 3 feet. Make sure you know the maximum height for the type of wall blocks you choose.
See the projects below to get step-by-step instructions for using retaining wall blocks around your landscape:
Read Planning for a Block Retaining Wall for instructions on estimating how many blocks you need for your project.
You can also find project kits that include all the materials you need to build a fire pit.
While some wall blocks simply stack to create layers or courses, some are designed to allow better alignment and stability. One design has a lip that secures it against the previous layer. Another uses pins to interlock each layer.
In addition to blocks, pavers and stones, you'll find a range of accessories to help make your project a success:
Paver base is gravel that forms part of the foundation of block and paver projects. It gives the project stability, provides for drainage and helps you compensate for small elevation changes in your landscape.
Paver base panels can replace traditional paver base and reduce the amount of paver sand you need for patios and walkways. The panels require less digging than paver base, are lightweight and interlock for simple installation. Note that they are not for use in areas intended for vehicle traffic.
Leveling or paver sand is another component that supports block and paver projects. Paver sand helps fix the individual pieces of the project in place and allows you to make adjustments to maintain level.
Paver restraints are flexible strips that hold pavers in place in patios or walkways. They work with both straight and curved designs. Spikes secure the restraints against the outside edges of the patio or walkway.
Polymeric sand and jointing sand are two products that fill the joints between individual pavers in patios and walkways, helping prevent weed growth.
Always follow the manufacturer's use, installation and safety instructions.