Concrete and masonry are two of the most widely used building materials in the world. Brick and stone structures date back to prehistoric times, and it is the durability of these materials which assured the survival of architectural relics for thousands of years. Concrete and masonry are almost always a part of contemporary residential construction. From poured concrete slabs or foundations, to masonry veneers, footings, retaining walls, paving, and mortar jointing. Concrete and masonry are a prevalent part of residential landscape construction. All building materials expand and contract, whereas concrete shrinks permanently. Since concrete is brittle, steel reinforcing is used to minimize or eliminate cracking.
Concrete is used in footings and foundations to build on, and is the preferred base to build our masonry projects on due to its solid footing that resists settling and movement. Not all projects have to use concrete for the base material. Recycled Crushed concrete aggregate, RCA, is also used for patio and wall block installation. It’s less expensive and has its applications. Over time an RCA base expands and contracts with the weather and some settling may result, where as a reinforced concrete base will not budge. Mortar jointed paving such as Bluestone, Brick, Belgium Block, and Stone veneer must use concrete for their footings. Movement has to be controlled so that these materials won’t budge and crack. Pavers and wall block are designed to move with the footing. Real stone can be laid on the existing soil or RCA base and set on a sand leveling bed. The joints between the stones can not be mortar joints on a RCA base because the mortar will crack and eventually fall out, so Polymetric sand or stone dust is used to fill the joints. This method does not hold up for the long haul and will have to be maintained throughout the years. Some movement will raise and lower the stones in patios and walks, leaving a slightly unlevel surface. This is not a major problem, it just makes it difficult to shovel snow, and patio furniture will not have a smooth surface to glide on.
Materials used for surfacing and veneers range from man-made concrete products such as concrete pavers, cultured stone, and wall block, to natural stone and clay brick. Natural stone provides a real landscape richness that the concrete pavers strive to achieve, but rarely do. Just like all new products these man-made materials lack the richness of real stone and eventually fade and lose their finish. Natural stone has been compressed under thousands of years of pressure, known as sedimentary rock, and granite and marble is formed when molten igneous rock cooled. The durability of these stones is what gives them that long lasting appeal. Each material has its place in the landscape. Budget is usually a primary concern so the choice of materials and type of base used to build the project is one way to reduce the cost of material to achieve the desired design budget.
Sitescapes uses a combination of these masonry products to build their landscapes for their clients. The investment to get an entire project into a desired budget is carefully evaluated and design techniques are implemented to provide the client with a finished product that will last through time.