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Backyard Design Guide

Versatile Choices

Crafting Your Backyard

When deciding on how your backyard will be designed there are plenty of options to take into consideration. Some of these options are limited to the sizing of your patio. Consider how you want to use your backyard. Do you like grilling or smoking? A backyard oasis with a swimming pool and hot tub? Maybe an ice bath, firepit and dining area under a shade structure like a gazebo or pergola.

Patio Design

Maximizing Your Outdoor Space


Patio Size

Depending on how you plan on using your backyard will be an important factor when determining your patio size. If your plan on accommodating larger groups of people or want to incorporate an outdoor kitchen, firepit or shade structure such as a pergola or gazebo that will need to be taken into consideration. Reference and link to our accessories guide that was previously written.


Once you decide on a size for your patio the next step will be to decide on your patio materials. Concrete, stamped concrete, natural stone or a manufactured concrete paver. Do you want your patio to have a more natural look with the variation of patter you get with a natural stone such as travertine, marble or flagstone? Or do you like the more uniform look of concrete products that have a consistent look throughout your backyard?



Distance of each area to your backdoor or wherever you will be moving in and out of your home.


Distance of the grilling area to your backdoor. Maybe it’s not swimming season but you still want to grill some burgers or smoke a brisket. Are you incorporating an outdoor dining area? You will probably want the grill or outdoor kitchen area in between and that dining area but not close enough to bother you or your guests with unwanted smoke.


If a swimming pool is your goal, you may want that to be the focal point of your backyard. Think about what you will see from the main viewing area out of the back of your house. Maybe that’s a backdoor or a picture window.

Your outdoor design is an extension of you and what you like to do. A common mistake when someone is getting a swimming pool is they don’t plan on what their dream patio will look like and only focus on the focal point of their backyard. They just decide to “put a pool back there” and don’t mention or plan for what else they want to do in their outdoor space. Make sure you get enough patio space for everything you want in your backyard even if you plan on developing this space in phases.

Know Your Options

When it comes to your patio materials there are plenty of options to consider in terms of look, feel and performance. Below we will go through some of the most common options you will see in a typical outdoor design space.


Standard Concrete

The most common of these options is standard concrete also known as broom finished concrete. We call this concrete “ole reliable” for a reason.  This is the most common patio material choice for a few reasons that we will cover below. We will also go over a few of the disadvantages and common issues associated with standard concrete.

Durability and Strength – Concrete is known for its durability. When properly installed it can withstand a significant amount of weight and pressure. There's a reason it is used in everything from driveways, buildings and overpasses. Because of this it is an ideal product to use in your outdoor design.

Low Maintenance – After installation, concrete requires minimal maintenance. Occasional cleaning and optional sealing are usually sufficient to keep the concrete in good condition.

Affordability – When comparing cost of standard concrete to other paving options like stamped concrete, colored concrete, natural stone and brick pavers, concrete is the most cost effective in terms of initial installation and long-term maintenance.

Versatility – While often associated with a gray, bland look, concrete can be finished in various textures and colors to enhance its appearance and complement the surrounding landscape.

Longevity – A well installed concrete surface can last for decades, making it a long term solution for any outdoor space.

Cracking Over Time – Concrete can develop cracks due to weather changes, soil movement, and heavy loads. These cracks can be unsightly and may require repair.

Surface Staining – Concrete is porous and can absorb stains from oil, grease, and other substances, which can be challenging to remove.

Limited Aesthetic Appeal – Standard concrete does not offer the same aesthetic appeal as more decorative options like stamped or colored concrete.

Heat Absorption – Concrete can absorb heat, making it uncomfortably hot to walk on during sunny days.

Cracking – The most common issue with concrete is cracking, which can occur due to improper installation, lack of control joints, or environmental factors.

Discoloration – Over time, concrete can become discolored due to weather exposure, UV rays, or spills.

Uneven Settling – If the ground beneath the concrete is not properly prepared, it can lead to uneven settling, causing the concrete to crack or become uneven.

Efflorescence – This is a white powdery residue that can appear on the surface of concrete due to moisture evaporation. It can be difficult to remove and may recur.

Spalling - The surface of concrete can flake or peel off due to freeze-thaw cycles, poor installation, or the use of deicing salts.


Stamped And Colored Concrete

Stamped and colored concrete are great choices if you desire to add an aesthetic appeal to your outdoor design. This option typically costs less than pavers but more than brushed concrete. However, both stamped and colored concrete present their own unique challenges that include but are not limited to fading, cracking and maintenance requirements. Becoming knowledgeable about your patio can significantly extend the lifespan, appearance and performance of your investment. Below we will outline some of the advantages, disadvantages and common issues associated with stamped and colored concrete.

Aesthetic Appeal - First and foremost, the aesthetic appeal of stamped concrete offers a wide range of patterns and designs that mimic the look of natural stone, brick and even wood. This variety allows for a creative and appealing landscape that can even be incorporated into an interior design. You can choose from a broad spectrum of colors that allow you to customize and fit your design aesthetic. This product also offers a more uniform design with a consistent color throughout when compared to a natural stone, depending on if you decide on a surface coloring or if your color pigments are mixed into the concrete itself.

Durability – Much like regular broomed concrete stamped concrete is highly durable, making it the perfect choice for driveways, patios and walkways that can withstand heavy traffic.

Maintenance – Stamped concrete requires minimal maintenance unlike natural stone or brick products. Regular cleaning and occasional resealing are usually sufficient to maintain its appearance. 

Cost – This version of concrete is a great “middle ground” with a price point that is usually somewhere in between the cost of a stone paver and broomed concrete.

Cracking – Concrete professionals have a simple mantra they will repeat often that they know to be true. The following can be applied to all landscape paving materials that all have various ways they commonly fail.  “There are only a few things you count on in life. Death, taxes… and all concrete WILL crack.” It’s just a matter of time! And of course, this entirely depends on who you have install your concrete and HOW they install it. This is why any concrete installer worth their salt will utilize control joints in your design so when your concrete does crack it will crack properly in a predetermined, planned way that you know is in alignment with the proper performance of concrete.

Staining – Colored concrete can be prone to staining that can be difficult to remove. This can be solved with an initial sealant over the concrete and a maintenance sealing in years following.

Slippery Surface – When wet stamped concrete can be slippery, posing a risk of slips and falls. This is why some of the more experienced installers will mix a product like Shark Bite into the concrete sealer that gives the surface a slight grain that helps to mitigate this issue.

Color Fading – Nothing man made is quite as powerful as the sun. Because most of your outdoor paving materials have little to no protection from the sun’s powerful rays this does cause fading in the coloring of outdoor paving materials, stamped and colored concrete being no exception. The color of stamped concrete will fade due to the UV rays. Luckily you have the choice of an installer that has some experience with this and knows which colors perform better in these harsh climates.

Uneven surfaces - Improper installation can lead to uneven surfaces that result in water pooling and potential damage resulting from said water sitting on the surface over a long period of time resulting in potential damage.

Concrete Cracking And Why

Concrete, while strong and durable, is not impervious to the environment and usage factors that can lead to cracking. By understanding the reasons behind concrete cracking and the role of control joints, you can ensure your patios, walkways, and driveways remain beautiful and functional for years to come. Remember, a little planning and knowledge can go a long way in preserving the integrity and aesthetics of your outdoor concrete spaces. Let’s talk about the reasons for cracking below. 


Why Does Concrete Crack?

Drying Shrinkage

When concrete dries, it shrinks. This creates tension within the material, leading to cracks. The more water in the mix, the greater the shrinkage. Some concrete professionals recommend watering your concrete after installation to slow this process and guide the concrete through this process instead of setting it and forgetting it.

Heavy Loads

While concrete is robust, excessive loads, like heavy vehicles, can exceed its strength especially if the ground underneath is not prepared by a seasoned professional.

Temperature Fluctuations

Your concrete expands in heat and contracts in cold. In areas with significant temperature changes, this can lead to cracking over time.

Subsurface Movement

Changes or movement in the ground beneath the concrete, often due to poor soil conditions or extreme weather, can cause cracking.


Control Joints

A Key To Long-Lasting Outdoor Concrete

Strategic Placement

Control joints are placed at pre planned intervals to control where the concrete cracks, ensuring that it doesn’t affect the overall appearance or structure. By pre planning where the concrete cracks you can be sure that when your concrete cracks it has effectively relieved the pressure that has caused the crack.

Aesthetic Integration

These joints can be incorporated into the design of your concrete surfaces, so they add to the visual appeal rather than detract from it.

Depth and Timing

Control joints are either cut into the concrete or tooled into the design at about a quarter of the slab's thickness and ideally made within the first 24 to 48 hours after the concrete is poured to be most effective.

Reducing Stress

By allowing your concrete to expand and contract, control joints reduce stress and should prevent uncontrolled cracking that can form on the face or working area of your new patio.


Concrete Tips

Choosing the Right Mix

For outdoor applications, select a concrete mix with the right balance of ingredients to minimize shrinkage. By hiring a seasoned concrete industry professional you can rest easy knowing they will pour the right mix for your patio effectively prolonging the life of your investment. 

Proper Placement

Ensure control joints are placed by a professional who understands the layout and stress points of your concrete surfaces. Well thought out placements of your control joints will ensure maximum enjoyment of your concrete patio.

Regular Maintenance

Seal your concrete regularly to protect it from weather elements and inspect control joints to ensure they remain effective.

Embrace the Character

Small, controlled cracks are normal and can add character to your outdoor space. They do not usually signify structural problems.

Stone Elegance

Natural Stone Pavers

For homeowners looking to enhance their outdoor living spaces, natural stone pavers offer a blend of elegance, durability, and timeless beauty. When considering options for your patio, natural stone stands out as a premium choice, with its unique textures, colors, and enduring appeal. Here's why natural stone pavers could be the perfect addition to your patio.


The Allure of Natural Stone

Unique Aesthetics

Each stone paver is one of a kind with unique patterns, hues and textures. Whether it's the warm tons of sandstone, the elegant veining of marble, or the earthy look of slate, natural stone offers unmatched aesthetic appeal.

Durability and Longevity

Stone pavers are incredibly durable. They can withstand extreme weather conditions, heavy foot traffic, and the passage of time, making them a long-lasting option for patios.

Eco-Friendly Choice

Natural stone is an environmentally friendly option. It is extracted and processed with minimal chemical involvement and has a lower carbon footprint compared to manufactured paving materials.

Types of Natural Stone Pavers


Known for its slip-resistant texture and rich color variations, slate is ideal for creating an elegant and safe patio surface.


Limestone is popular for its smooth finish and neutral color palette, making it a versatile choice for various patio styles.


This stone is prized for its subtle yet sophisticated appearance. Travertine offers a range of colors from ivory to rich browns, and its naturally porous surface creates a non-slip texture. It’s particularly suited for a more elegant, classic patio setting.


Known for its rustic charm and irregular shapes, flagstone is ideal for creating a more natural, organic look. Its varied colors, from earthy reds and browns to cool blues and grays, allow for unique and interesting patio designs.


This type offers a warm and natural look, with colors ranging from creams to rich browns and reds, perfect for a cozy and inviting patio.


Though more luxurious, marble pavers provide a sophisticated and unique look with their distinctive veining and polished finish.


Renowned for its strength and scratch resistance, granite is a great choice for a high-traffic patio area.


Installation and Maintenance

Professional Installation

Proper installation is key to the longevity of a stone patio. Hiring a professional ensures correct laying, drainage, and stability.

Sealing and Protection

While natural stone is durable, sealing it can protect against stains and weather damage, preserving its beauty for longer.

Regular Cleaning

Simple cleaning routines, such as sweeping and occasional washing with a mild detergent, help maintain the natural stone's appearance.

Considerations Before Choosing Natural Stone


Natural stone pavers are generally more expensive than other materials. It's important to consider your budget in the decision-making process.

Climate Suitability

Some stones are more porous and may not be suitable for very cold climates where freeze-thaw cycles occur.

Design Compatibility

Ensure the stone complements your home’s exterior and existing landscape design for a cohesive look.


Concrete Brick Pavers

Concrete brick pavers are individual units made from concrete, shaped into various sizes and colors to resemble bricks. They are distinct from regular bricks, which are typically clay-based. These pavers are known for their durability and strength, making them suitable for a range of outdoor applications including patios, walkways and driveways. If you are exploring options for patio surfaces, concrete brick pavers present a practical, versatile, and aesthetically pleasing choice.

Unlike traditional plain concrete slabs, concrete pavers offer more in terms of design flexibility, ease of maintenance, and overall aesthetic appeal. While they come with an array of advantages you should also consider the potential higher costs associated with concrete pavers, associated materials needed for install, maintenance to prevent weed growth and the possibility of shifting and fading over time. Below we will delve into the advantages, disadvantages, common issues, installation and maintenance of concrete brick pavers.

Design Flexibility - Concrete pavers come in a multitude of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. This variety allows homeowners to create unique and personalized patio designs, from traditional patterns to modern and abstract layouts.

Durability and Strength - Concrete pavers are manufactured to withstand heavy loads and harsh weather conditions, ensuring a durable patio surface.

Ease of Repair - Unlike a solid concrete slab, if a paver gets damaged or stained, it can be easily replaced without affecting the surrounding area. This modular nature makes repairs achievable. Keep in mind if it has been a few years since your paver installation the replacement pavers will not be faded to match the original paver.

Low Maintenance - Regular sweeping and occasional rinsing are typically all that’s required to keep pavers looking good. They can also be sealed for added protection against stains and weathering.

Better Drainage - Pavers are laid with joints that allow water to percolate through, reducing standing water and improving drainage compared to traditional concrete slabs. There are a variety of different paver joint sands and products with different performance characteristics that can be installed to meet your drainage needs. Whether that be your personal preference or that of the city, town or municipality that you live in.

Initial Cost - The cost of concrete pavers will typically be higher than other options, such as poured concrete, particularly when factoring in professional installation.

Weed Growth - Weeds can grow in the joints between pavers, requiring regular maintenance to keep the patio looking neat.

Settlement and Shifting - Improper installation or inadequate base preparation can lead to pavers settling or shifting over time, potentially creating an uneven surface.

Fading Over Time – As we discussed previously continuous exposure to sunlight WILL cause pavers to fade, altering their original color.

Staining - Pavers can be susceptible to stains from oil, grease, or organic matter. Sealing the pavers can help, but prompt cleaning of spills is advisable.

Efflorescence - This is a white, powdery residue that can appear on pavers due to the natural migration of salts to the surface. While it doesn’t harm the pavers, it can affect their appearance.

Frost Heave - In colder climates, the freeze-thaw cycle can cause the ground to heave, potentially shifting the pavers and leading to an uneven surface.

Ant Infestation - The sand joints between pavers can attract ants, which can be a nuisance and may require pest control measures.

Regular Cleaning - Simple cleaning with a broom and hose can prolong the look and performance of your paver patio. TIP: For tough stains, a mild detergent can be used.

Weed Prevention - Weeds can sprout between pavers. Regular sweeping and the use of polymeric sand in the joints can help minimize weed growth. As your patio ages the use of weed management products will become more necessary.

Sealant Reapplication - Depending on the environment and traffic, resealing periodically can prolong the appearance and durability of your paver patio.


Coping Options

When comparing coping materials for swimming pools, it's essential to consider three popular choices: natural stone, poured concrete, and brick pavers. Each of these materials offers unique benefits and aesthetic qualities, and understanding their differences which we have outlined in the article above is key to making an informed decision. Additionally, while painted aluminum coping has been traditionally used, it is increasingly regarded as a less favorable option in modern pool designs.

Natural stone coping stands out for its unparalleled beauty and durability. Each piece is unique, offering a variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Commonly used stones include travertine, marble, limestone, granite, and slate. Natural stone coping provides a luxurious and elegant look that is highly resistant to weathering, fading and pool chemicals. Natural stones used in a patio are usually treated with a weathered finish to decrease the chances of someone slipping and falling but this depends on how the stone is cut, polished and finished. As we mentioned before Natural stone is generally more expensive and requires sealing and regular upkeep to prevent staining.

Concrete coping is popular for its versatility and ability to be customized. It can be molded into various shapes and styles, making it adaptable to any pool design. Concrete can be poured against a rubberized form to take on several shapes including but not limited to a chiseled edge that imitates hand-chiseled stone for a rustic look, bullnose, featuring a rounded edge for safety and comfort and flat Face, offering a clean, modern appearance. Once again, the advantages of concrete coping are first and foremost it is less expensive than natural stone. It’s design flexibility being it can be shaped and styled to specific needs. And its ease of installation allows it to be poured and shaped on-site. As far as its disadvantages go, it may need resealing and is prone to cracking and doesn't provide the same authentic look as natural stone.

Brick Paver Coping provides a classic and versatile look. It's often chosen for its traditional appeal and the warm, inviting atmosphere it creates. Its advantages include a traditional aesthetic that offers a timeless look along with its customization being that it is available in various colors and can be laid in different patterns. The durability of brick paver coping is preferred by some for being generally long-lasting with proper maintenance. Unfortunately, it can be rougher underfoot compared to natural stone and requires sealing and can be prone to moss or algae growth in damp conditions.

While historically popular, painted aluminum coping is increasingly seen as outdated in contemporary pool designs. Its somewhat durable and thought to be resistant to corrosion with minimal upkeep required. It can be painted to match design schemes but is less attractive than stone or concrete options and can heat up in sunlight. Most see painted aluminum coping as lacking tactile appeal.

In closing, choosing the right coping material for a swimming pool depends on various factors like budget, desired aesthetics, maintenance needs, and safety considerations. Natural stone offers elegance and unique beauty but at a higher cost and maintenance level. Concrete provides versatility and cost-efficiency with customizable options. Brick stone brings a traditional charm, suitable for specific design themes. Painted aluminum, while practical, lacks the modern aesthetic appeal of the other materials. Each option has its place in pool design, and the best choice will align with the overall vision and practical requirements of the pool area.