Masonry is an integral part of converting your Orange County, CA, home’s backyard into an outdoor living space. In contrast to carpentry, masonry is far more durable, and well constructed features can last the lifetime of your home. Moreover, some masonry structures provide support to make them a necessary part of any sustainable landscape design.
Walkways, Driveway and Patio
While seemingly simple structures, designing and installing walkways, driveways, and patios is a combination of art and science. Walkways and patios have to deal with foot traffic, high variation in temperatures, and shifting subsoil without warping or cracking. Driveways face the additional challenge of supporting heavy cars sometimes for long periods of time.
A strong base is a necessary part of the durability of these structures, where the correct depth of soil and gravel layers can make a marked difference in their performance over time. Adding a geogrid is also an easy way to enhance their rigidity with shifting subsoils. Lastly, making the right choice of paving materials is important as high quality materials can keep masonry elements looking fresh even after many years by maintaining their fit and finish. Natural stone is a stylish choice albeit with a higher initial investment. Concrete pavers, on the other hand, are readily available, easy to install, and give your landscape designer a wide variety of color and texture options for flooring as well as accents and patterns.
Retaining walls are highly functional support structures that can enhance the durability of your landscape design. They can be used for terracing and supporting sloping soil which will otherwise erode with water and wind over time. The design and construction of retaining walls is highly important as their durability coincides with the longevity of your landscape design. The correct use of mortar and materials is of obvious importance, as is the height of the wall and the depth of its foundation. Creating adequate drainage within the walls is also important as it relieves water pressure from the soil body being supported, which can greatly enhance the longevity of your structure.
Fire Pits, Fireplaces and Fixed Seating
Masonry fire pits and outdoor fireplaces can be great focal points for any yard while also providing light and warmth for the occupants. Stone fire pits and fireplaces have the added advantage of being more durable, standing up well to high winds and variations in heat. Their durability can also be an important factor for fire safety, providing a more reliable separation between people and the fire, as well as reducing the probability of fires getting out of control due to stone’s flame retardant nature. Fireplaces can also add a touch of lavishness to a yard, especially when coupled with a large chimney. A strong base is necessary to sustain such a structure, as is the right mix of materials and mortar.
Fixed stonework seating is a natural complement to fireplaces and fire pits. A stone bench or seat not only conforms to the design language by complementing these structures, but also proves to be a more durable seating solution than traditional patio furniture. It stands up well to the elements and can be just as comfortable with the addition of cushions.