The age old debate – Paver Patio vs. Wood Deck

April 13, 2011

I was just quoting a job where we are demolishing an old deck and replacing it with a paver patio.  I am running into that more and more these days, homeowners want low maintenance and are opting for patios over decks.  We are able to install a 3 feet high or under patio with the landing and steps for less than the cost of a same height deck.  Plus the patios just flow a little better for entertaining than a raised deck.  So when you are pricing out your deck, take a second to price out a patio, you just might be surprised!    

 Here is a little list of my thoughts paver patios vs. wood decks.    

Paver Patios Wood Decks
  • A paver patio can be built for about a third less than the price of a deck (DIY or professionals) 
  • A deck can cost a third more than the price of a paver patio (DIY or professionals)
  • Built at ground level with steps and a landing down from the door (see photo)
  •  Built above the ground, typically at door height  
  •  A ground level patio will not require railings
  •  Decks often require railings which can obstruct views
  • Built at ground level which creates an easier transition from the patio to the yard creating a better flow for entertaining
  • Built off the ground with steps that often lead directly out onto the grass, creating an awkward transition for guests   
  • Typically patios do not require city permits because they are not attached to the house (homeowners assoc. approval is a different story)
  • Decks often require city permits because they are attached to the house and considered an addition (may also require homeowners assoc. approval)
  •  On a patio you can build in add-ons that would make your patio a cohesive entertaining area –  a seat wall around the edge, a built-in fire pit and outdoor kitchen
  •  On a deck you would need to buy removable items – seating (possible built-in benches), a mobile fire pit (watch the open flames) and grill
  • Low maintenance – spray clean, occasionally after years a paver can raise up and will need to be leveled
  • High maintenance (wood) – power washing, clear coat, painting or staining nails can pop up, wood can splinter and rot
  •  And most importantly to my wife, you can go barefoot on a patio
  •  As a deck ages you would want to wear footwear because of possible splinters and nails

Below are a few photos of some patios to give you an idea of what you might be able to do in your backyard.  Enjoy!

This is actually a bluestone patio with paver wall. The patio comes directly off their house and transitions to a lower patio with fire pit.


This patio transitions from the door with two long steps down onto the patio.


These are circular steps down to the patio.


This is a raised patio that transitions down to a walkway with nice landscaping.

This is a raised patio that transitions down to a walkway with nice landscaping.


Swimming Pools – Enjoy your own Backyard Resort

May 14, 2009
Paver Pool Deck

Paver Pool Deck

With the really warm weather we had in Virginia last weekend, I thought it would be a great time to drift on a raft in a backyard swimming pool.  There is no better place to getaway from life’s little stresses than your own backyard.  Travel time is minimal and the stay is free! 

With so many new swimming pool products and landscape ideas available, there is no reason you can’t create that special retreat at your own home.  There are an array of new pool decking materials available, new filtration systems (salt water is in), waterfalls cascading into the pool and outdoor living rooms are all the rage!  It is not just a pool anymore; it is your own backyard luxury resort.

Below are some of the new trends we have been seeing in swimming pool design and landscaping.

Swimming Pool Design – The best place to start with any major project is with a comprehensive design.  Whether you plan to do things in stages or all at once, you will want to be certain you receive a complete design to ensure the entire yard blends together.  Start by determining a few key points for the design – the size and shape of the swimming pool, how you intend to use the space (relaxation, exercise, sports) and any special design elements you would like incorporate that suit your lifestyle.  Your imagination is your only limitation (well and possibly your budget).       

Swimming Pool Decks – The new trend in pool decking is to throw out the stark white concrete and use more exciting, natural pool decking products.  You can easily give an old pool new life by changing the decking.  We are seeing homeowners use more natural products – brick pavers, blue stone, and travertine – that blend in with their overall landscaping and add a little bit of color to their pool.  

Total Outdoor Living Spaces – The new rage in landscaping is to create outdoor living rooms, and this includes swimming pools.  Incorporating a gourmet kitchen, outdoor fireplace or cabanas and pool houses into your pool area can provide a perfect place to gather and entertain friends and family. 

Water Features – Whether it is water cascading from a rock waterfall or an intricate grotto located behind the falls, the new trend for pools is to add the relaxing element of falling water.  Customers are incorporating water features into their pools – fountains that shoot bursts of water through the air, elaborate cascades that drop a sheet of water into the pool and intricate waterslides for the kids (and you too).  You can create your own natural wonder of the world.   

Salt Water Pools – The new trend in pool filtration systems is salt!  Benefits of this natural cleaning process include: no chlorine smell, no red eyes, reduced cost (your just buying salt), and no pool “shocking” with chemicals.  How does this system work, I am not an expert in the pool filtration field, so I will direct you to River Pools and Spas for more in depth information on how the system works.  

Swimming Pool Landscaping – Remember to add color and beauty to your swimming pools landscape.  Bring in lush plantings around the pool deck to soften the hardscape and a few evergreens to add some privacy.  Also think about shade elements; will you be using carefully planted trees, umbrellas or awnings. 

Swimming Pool Lighting – Don’t forget the lighting, you may want to enjoy your pool well into the evening.  You can use a mix of landscape lighting for pathways, trees and gardens, use fountain lights in the pool and add a few Tiki torches for the island resort experience.  You can set any mood with the right lighting!

For some great ideas for pool design, decking and landscaping check out our swimming pool ideas at Carville Landscape Co.

Looking to extend your homes square footage?

March 29, 2009

Patio and Fire Pit

A great way to add square footage to your house is to bring it outside!  Add an outdoor room to your home and have a unique fun setting to entertain your friends and family.  Our clients are bringing everything outdoors – fireplaces, gourmet kitchens, living rooms, fountains – even decorating with plush furnishings and lighting! 



When designing your outdoor room, start by defining the function you want your room to serve and the foundation for your room.  Do you just want to add square footage to your current living space?  Do you want a pool as your focal point with separate living spaces around it, a separate kitchen space and living room and fireplace space?  Do you want to create a private covered courtyard space complete with walls and a roof?  Or the ultimate MAN room with built-in grill and kegorator, plush reclining chairs and outdoor big screen television (this is the one I am planning for my yard)!

Once you have decided how you want to use your room, start thinking about the foundation.  Many rooms start with a patio – brick, paver, blue stone, travertine, or concrete.  Once you have your foundation think about if you want walls – paver columns, brick walls, or wood fence – and a roof – trellis with vines, pavilion roof, pergola or just wide open sky. 

Now that you have the structural details in place you can really get creative with all the other features you want to include in your outdoor room.  Below is just a small list of what you can do.  Use your imagination to create the perfect space for you!

Fireplaces – Bring your fireplace outside for those cool fall nights.  You can do something as simple as a small round fire pit or as elaborate as a full blown fireplace with chimney and wood box.  Both options can be run off natural gas (just like the ones inside) or the good old wood burning option. 

Outdoor Kitchens and Grills – Create a grilling station by building your grill into your patio and creating nice paver countertops for preparing food.  Or create an entire outdoor gourmet kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, grill, warming draws, kegorator and side burners – complete with granite counter tops!  Even build in a bar to create outdoor seating for your guests to enjoy their meals or just as a place to sit while you are cooking dinner. 

Outdoor Televisions – Build a great space to watch your favorite football or baseball games.  With the invention of flat screen televisions, it is easy to put your television outside.  Enjoy the sunshine while you enjoy the game.

Fountains and Waterfalls – Create a focal point for your room and add a fountain or a waterfall.  They can be placed on walls, on the patio, in containers or in pools.  You can even create a reflecting pond with a water fountain.  Get creative and add a little running water to your room.

Pools and Hot Tubs – Don’t forget a fun and relaxing feature to your outdoor rooms – pools.  Create an area for a pool or hot tub.  Relax on a raft in the hot summer sun or enjoy the cool nights under the stars in your hot tub. 

Lighting – Outdoor lighting can add dramatic effect to a focal point, provide security or just extend the amount of time you have for enjoyment.  There are so many options for lighting that there is bound to be something that fits the style and décor of your room. 

Seating – Add some permanent seating to your room.  Add seat walls around the edge of your room to provide extra seating for guests.  You can even dress them up with seat cushions and pillows.

Whatever you decide, start with a plan so that your outdoor room serves your needs and fits your style!  For more pictures and information on outdoor rooms, visit Carville Landscape Co.

Outdoor Kitchen and Bar

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