How to Landscape With Pavers

Stone path through a garden of flowers and shrubs

They say the streets of heaven are paved with gold. Well, earthly pavers may not be golden, but they can still turn your landscape into a beautiful haven for spending time with family and friends.

If you’ve never considered how to landscape with pavers, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you what pavers are and how to use them in your landscape. Luckily, pavers come in many different materials, shapes, sizes, and colors, so your landscape design options are just about limitless.

What are Pavers?

Pavers are pretty self-explanatory: They’re paving stones. They can be made of brick, concrete, or natural stone (such as limestone, bluestone, or granite). They come in hundreds of different colors, styles, textures, and shapes.

People use pavers for all sorts of things. You could build a paver patio, pathway, or pool deck. When it comes to pavers, if you can dream it, you can do it.

With so many options, figuring out where to start can be intimidating. We’ve compiled advice and design ideas to help you along the way as you landscape with pavers.

Backyard Landscaping Ideas With Pavers

Your backyard is where you want to hang out on a cool evening or a bright sunny day. Maybe you want to entertain friends in a custom outdoor living space, or maybe you want a winding path through your garden where you can commune with nature.

Whatever activities you’ve got planned, pavers can help make your backyard the perfect staging ground.

1. Go for a rustic look around a fire pit

Patio with a fire pit in the middle surrounded by chairs
Image Credit: Landscape Design Advisor, Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Create an outdoor space with a little extra spark in the form of a fire pit. You can use pavers of different shapes, textures, or colors to make your patio complement your fire feature. For example, the rustic design pictured above uses rough-looking brick pavers to match the natural stone fire pit in the center.

2. Build a paver pathway to your patio

covered patio with seating area
Image Credit: Texas Custom Patios, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Adding a cover or pergola to your backyard patio is a good way to make it look and feel like its own space, separate from your home or the rest of your yard.

For the same reason, it’s a good idea to build your patio a bit away from the house, like the one pictured above. Then, you can have a paver pathway leading to the seating area.

Once you’ve chosen the pavers you want to use, you can pick matching materials for your other hardscapes, like the natural stone columns and retaining wall pictured.

3. Create a pool deck of pavers

Paver steps leading down to a paver pool deck

If you have an in-ground swimming pool, consider installing a budget-friendly, stylish pool deck made of pavers. You can use geometric concrete pavers, like the ones pictured, or any other shape and material that suits the look you want for your pool area.

4. Mix pavers and mulch for color and texture

garden path with mulch

Even if you don’t have a lot of room in your backyard or the budget for an outdoor living space, you can still use pavers to elevate your landscape design. Pavers are perfect for creating a pathway through your garden. The garden path pictured above uses irregularly shaped pavers with mulch filling the gaps to create a cottage-like aesthetic.

5. Add paver shapes for an ordered, geometric look

drought-resistant garden with pavers and river rocks for mulch
Image Credit: Jeremy Levine, Flickr CC BY 2.0

A pathway isn’t the only way to upgrade your garden design with pavers. Give your basic garden a modern, elegant look by including geometric pavers lined with a ground cover material such as river rocks or pea gravel.

Front Yard Landscaping Ideas With Pavers

The goal for front yard landscaping is much different than that of backyard landscaping. Whereas you want a place to unwind in peace in the backyard, the front yard is all about curb appeal.

Pavers are a helpful tool for impressing guests, neighbors, and potential homebuyers. They can make your front yard’s landscape design look more organized, polished, and attractive.

1. Use pavers as edging between gardens

Rain garden with pavers around the edge
Image Credit: Center for Neighborhood Technology, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Just as the rain garden pictured above uses concrete pavers as a border, you can use pavers for landscape edging. Geometric pavers will create a clean outline for your garden bed, while irregularly shaped flagstones will give it a quaint, vintage look.

2. Go with circular pavers for a whimsical look

Circular pavers in a mulch bed

Pavers truly come in any shape or size you might want. Circular pavers make great stepping stones that are easy to incorporate into any part of your landscape and have a whimsical look.

3. Make a decorative walkway in your yard

Spaced out pavers with grass in between

Maybe you want your home to have a wilder appearance. Pavers could still be the right fit for you. Just arrange them in a spaced-out pattern with grass or ground cover plants filling the gaps. You can create a pathway with this design, like the one pictured, or simply use the pavers as decoration.

4. Direct people to your door with pavers

Paver pathway leading to front door

One of the most popular paver projects for a front yard is a wide walkway leading to the front door. A paver walkway like the one pictured above will welcome guests into your home and, as an added bonus, keep them from walking through your lawn or garden.

5. Create a distinctive driveway with pavers

Driveway made of brown pavers
Image Credit: Arto Brick, Flickr CC BY 2.0

Your driveway takes up a big chunk of your front yard. Why not make it an interesting part of your landscape? Set your home apart from all the others in your neighborhood with a driveway or carport made of pavers.

Choosing the Right Pavers for Your Project

Once you’ve decided how you want to landscape your front or backyard, it’s time to figure out which type of paver is best for your project. There are three basic questions to answer when you’re searching for the perfect pavers for you.

1. What’s the aesthetic of your house and the rest of your landscape?

You want to make sure you choose pavers that will look good with your house and your existing landscape features.

For example, if you have a brick house, you might choose to edge your garden beds with brick pavers. If your home has stone veneer siding, you might want a matching cobblestone paver pathway.

2. How do the pavers feel underfoot?

If you’re building a landscape feature that people will regularly walk on, such as a pathway or an outdoor living space, you’ll want to choose pavers that are comfortable for walking.

A rough or uneven style of paver might make people trip. On the other hand, a surface that’s too smooth might get slippery (especially if you’re building a pool deck that will be wet most of the time).

It’s up to you to consider your specific project and choose the paver texture that you think will work best.

3. What’s your budget?

Some pavers are affordable for just about any homeowner, while others can get quite expensive. Your price range will determine which pavers are options for you.

Concrete pavers and decomposed granite are both inexpensive options that would work for any paver project you have in mind. Local stone will also be cheaper than rare materials that have to be shipped.

Luxury materials with high price tags include limestone and other natural stone pavers.

FAQ About Landscaping With Pavers

What should I put under my pavers?

Make your paver base out of crushed stone, sand, stone dust, or compacted soil.

How do I prevent weeds from growing between pavers?

Applying polymeric sand to the seams between your pavers is the most effective way to prevent weeds.

If you already have weeds growing between your pavers, try pouring boiling water over them for an eco-friendly weed killer that won’t damage the pavers.

What is the cheapest patio paver?

Concrete pavers are the cheapest option at about $2.50-$5 per square foot.

When to Call a Landscaping Professional

The DIY process of installing pavers might be a little too complicated for inexperienced homeowners. It involves excavating and using tools (such as a hand tamper or plate compactor) that your average Joe or Jane doesn’t have on hand.

If you’re working on a larger project that you want to last for many years to come, like a patio or driveway, you should definitely consider hiring a professional landscaper to install it for you.

Aside from their construction expertise, professional landscape architects also have a trained eye for design. They can help you create a unique landscape with pavers made for your home specifically.

Ask The Experts

Jon Burley
Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture
Sadik C. Artunc, FASLA
Professor and Head, Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Jon Burley
Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture
Michigan State University

Which type of paver gives you the most bang for your buck?

I am a little biased as I prefer stone pavers such as granite or bluestone for their durability. They often last longer than the building and can easily be reused.  When concrete pavers crack, often the interior of the paver does not truly match the exterior of the paver.   Although at times I have used heavy thick stone-like tumbled concrete pavers.  I have used Design Concrete paver/tiles by Studio5051 and Howard Merriam. Their tiles make a nice permeable surface with a high-quality design. 

Ugly at any price is of no value – and there is a lot of ugly out there.  I try and use locally quarried stone, but I am willing to pay the extra price for bluestone and that includes shipping.  While I like stone, I avoid flagstone for paving, as it seems dysfunctional for furniture and barefoot walking. 

Avoid marble too. When wet it is more slippery than ice.  Limestone has a tendency to dissolve and looks like concrete to the untrained eye.  If one likes stone, visit the local quarries and see what is available, it will reduce shipping costs to buy locally.

What paver project would be the easiest for a homeowner to build DIY?

Smaller pavers are easier for the homeowner to move around and set.  But smaller pavers are less ideal for vehicles. 

Rectangular pavers are often easier to install than interlocking pavers.  I saw interlocking pavers on a volcanic hillside in Indonesia. Because the base work was not well done, they were dismantling and sliding down-hill, it was really ugly. There were huge 6-inch gaps in the paving.

What type of pavers do you recommend for a pool deck? Why?

In some states, the laws require non-permeable concrete around the first 10 feet of the pool for health reasons. Even this concrete is somewhat permeable as even concrete has a permeability, it’s just low.

I do like bluestone beyond that distance as it has a texture for grip and feels good on the feet.  But I would use Dezign Tile Pavers too.

What paver feature is best for boosting curb appeal?

Start with the color of wood, stone, brick on the structure and try and tie the paving system into a unified look.  If the project is not coordinated, one can spend a lot of money and the project just looks like a clown suit.

To help unify the site, use the pavers in key areas, such as at landings and junctions in the yard, even an edging of papers to transition into concrete or asphalt.  Good paving work means the details and transitions have been thoughtfully mastered. 

A run of pavers looks nice. But it’s important they transition to other materials, changes in direction, lighting, and utilities. Walk Tokyo for a week and see mastery at work.  Go to Jakarta and see madness and insanity in the suburbs.  When I take students to London, there is always street utility work, and they use pavers for pedestrian-ways. They’re easy to remove and reset after the work is done.  Students learn a lot. 

I urge people really interested to go to Kyoto too and see how stone paving is masterfully used to signify arrival, thresholds,….  this is where various sizes of stone paving is helpful to signify use and intention.

What material do you recommend using as a base for pavers and why?

It depends upon the load the pavers have to support.  I have even set pavers over concrete or asphalt for trucks.  I have used pavers for small bridges with marine plywood under the pavers. 

On clay soils I spend a lot of time grading water away from the paving, installing drain tile, using compacted crushed limestone or recycled crushed concrete as a base. 

In my classes, I emphasize the keys to good long-lasting surfaces are a good foundation base.  I travel the world and have witnessed many projects that were broken, ponding and in a mess in a couple of years because of poor base work. 

Laying pavers is the easy part, doing all the site preparation takes a fair amount of time.  The key to a good base is having it be permeable, but well-graded (meaning many sizes of particles), and compacted.  You can purchase such materials by the bag from a home supply store or by the yard if you have a trailer and a nearby aggregate supplier.

Sadik C. Artunc, FASLA
Professor and Head, Department of Landscape Architecture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Mississippi State University

Which type of paver gives you the most bang for your buck?

There is no single paver type that meets all project needs to give us the most bang for our buck. The project budget, scope, concept, available labor/skill, location collectively determine the best alternatives.

What paver project would be the easiest for a homeowner to build DIY?

The pavers that are locally available at a reasonable cost, and easy to work with are easiest to use. They are also lightweight and durable and don’t require specialized tools. 

What type of pavers do you recommend for a pool deck? Why?

Depends if the pool deck is being used above a drainage layer or simply placed on a base with or without mortar. The criteria for safety is that the pavers must be non-slip.

What paver feature is best for boosting curb appeal?

Curb appeal depends on the selection of materials (do they fit the context and the design intent?), successful use of materials, If pavers are used poorly, they will take away from the curb appeal instead of adding to it.

What material do you recommend using as a base for pavers and why?

Some pavers may be placed on a subsoil if the subsoil is sandy. However, if the soil type is clay and not friendly for infiltration, you need to use a gravel layer.

There is no single answer here, but generally, subsoil type is the most critical determinant for the selection of pavers and the subbase.

Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin

Jordan Ardoin is a writer and indoor plant enthusiast hailing from Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing her two cats around the house and trying to keep her houseplants alive.