Softening with Stone

An important part of the landscaping at the 2009 HGTV Dream Home is the hardscaping and how it defines the outdoor living spaces. On the front walk, the back patio and the driveway, architectural pavers create both traditional and functional spaces.

Hayley Kaslar is owner and designer of Legacy Paver Group in Santa Rosa, Calif., a full-service paver installation firm that works with homeowners and architects from design through excavation and installation. Plans call for the paver surfaces to complement the details of the 2009 HGTV Dream Home itself, Kaslar says.

“I think to pour straight concrete in front of this house would have been too stark,” Kaslar explains. “We wanted to find a paver that was tumbled and rustic-looking to match the house, so you maintain that overall Old-World charm. We really wanted to find a paver that would achieve that and would soften the hardscape, and allow the house to sort of pop out and not have this modern, flat concrete in front of it.”

Pavers will give the house a softer look, and the paver design – using a combination of small and large pavers – will create an Old-World charm with plenty of character similar to the house, Kaslar says. The same pavers will be used throughout the landscape to keep a consistent look, but the pattern will change to mix things up. ]

“In the front of the house, we've got the driveway with two paver strips leading up to a turnaround – a parking area in front of the garage. The paver strips will have a strip of grass between them – we're all about softening the hardscape in front of the house. So the grass between the two parking strips will soften the front. We'll have a nice, welcoming grand pathway taking us up to the entrance to the house. The pathway will mirror the design layout of the driveway,” Kaslar explains.

“In the back, we'll probably get a little bit more creative and maybe mix in some of the larger paver sizes into the patio instead of just using them in the border. And again, that will give us a nice, rustic look with a bit of a modern twist, because we're going to have a nice, built-in barbecue back there. You'll see a lot more of the back from the inside of the house which will also have a lot of modern features,” she says.

What Lies Beneath

Kaslar says any great product is only as good as its installation, which is why she emphasizes that what is underneath the pavers is as important as the pavers themselves. “What’s underneath the pavers is what's going to keep this project and installation lasting for a generation, and that is the installation of the base rock,” Kaslar says.

“So, the first thing we do is we cut out the existing surface to the shape that we want about 12-in. down from the surface. And then we'll roll out a geotechnical fabric which will start the migration of the soil into the base rock. Then we start bringing in the base rock in 2- to 3-in. levels. We'll compact them, and we'll repeat that until we get the depth of the base rock that we require – 9 to 12 inches for a driveway and 4 to 6 inches for pedestrian use,” she notes.

Straight lines are ensured by stringing lines along the edge of any paver area. Once the pattern is laid out, concentration is focused on these edges. “We're doing several different types of borders here, but the standard is to have a border going around the edge. It gives it a cleaner finish,” Kaslar says. “If you finish the driveway with cut pavers, you never really have a nice, perfectly smooth curve or a nice, perfectly straight edge. So we're using rather large 14 by 14-in. pavers on the border, but you can use any style of paver, any shape or size, so long as it's consistent all the way around the perimeter.”

Once a border type is chosen, a trench is dug along the base rock, which is filled with concrete, she explains. “We will wet-set those perimeter pavers in that, and that is what's going to stop the pavers from migrating away, which will cause gaps in the center of the installation. So we really need to make sure that we have those border pavers set in concrete. And a lot of times, we'll reinforce it with some rebar, and that will stop the pavers from migrating away and it keeps everything nice and intact.”

Functional benefits of pavers compared to concrete include a resistance to cracking, Kaslar says. “As individual pieces, pavers can withstand more pressure than concrete, which is a solid slab that can buckle and crack. Good installers actually offer a warranty on the installation which you can't get with concrete. And asphalt really has no value from a cosmetic standpoint, and it crumbles. Once pavers are in, provided they're installed correctly, they're not going anywhere.”