Flagstone Patios, Steps, Retaining Walls
Landscaping is broadly categorized into hardscaping and softscaping. Hardscaping, or hard landscaping, involves the use of physical design structure like rocks, pavers, and retaining walls. On the other hand, softscaping refers to the natural part of the landscape such as the soil, vegetable gardens, trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, and other plants.
At M.D.S. Projects Ltd., we do both hardscaping and softscaping. Our hardscaping service includes the making of patios, steps, and retaining walls, among other landscape features. We use both natural stone and interlocking stones for these features.
We use natural stones where clients are looking for low maintenance landscapes since natural stones, which come from nature and which are impervious to the elements, require little maintenance. No two natural stones are the same. For clients after an authentic feel and look, natural stones are the only solution. They are not only authentic but are also aesthetically pleasing. The stones come in different shapes, finishes, colors, and sizes – this uniqueness extends to the landscape. Even the most rugged of natural stone will feel in place wherever it is used.
When you use natural stones on walkways, you get enhanced safety for your family and pets. Using natural stones is safer than walking on grass because the surface is sturdier. Most natural stones are non-slip, making them perfect for pool areas.
For clients looking to increase the resale value of their homes, natural stones are the perfect choice because they carry a connotation of elegance and luxury. Natural stones do not require landscape designers to pay too much attention to matching patterns since they are all naturally different. This gives designers greater flexibility to be creative.
Banas Stones® – our number one natural stone supplier
We get our natural stones from top natural stone manufacturers. One of our main suppliers is Banas Stones®, which supplies us with solid stone steps and natural stone pavers. Banas Stones® has a large collection of stones in different colors and textures. You can choose between sandstone, limestone, and granite. Banas products come in different sizes. These are 300mm x600mm, 450mm x 600mm, 600mm x 600mm, and 600mm x 900mm.
The company gets the stones from its own quarries and processes the stones in its own factories, which gives it control over the quality of the stones, the safety of its employees, and ethical mining practices. Banas Stones® has a 100% safety record in its quarries.
Banas has a total of 20 operating quarries in the Indian subcontinent, each producing premium quality stones. All the quarries feature state-of-the-art mining technologies and machinery and are manned by 750 highly motivated and skills workers ranging from quality control inspectors to mining engineers.
We are proud to be associated with Banas Stones because the mining methods employed are environmentally friendly. The team uses modern productivity-enhancing tools and safety gear. Banas takes care of its employees, including giving competitive salaries, free on-site health care and providing free schooling to employees’ children. The company plants trees on land it has completed mining to reduce the impact on the environment, it fumigates crates and the wood used in packaging before shipping, and it complies with applicable laws and regulations. The company gives back to the community through the provision of amenities and the Banas Stones Welfare Fund India which offers scholarships to needy but talented Indian kids.
To avoid counterfeits, you can authenticate Banas Stones® products by looking for the “BANAS” label and a crate number on the crates and then emailing or calling the distribution centre on email@example.com or (905) 857-9684 respectively.
Natural stones from local quarries
Other than our major suppliers like Banas Stones® who supply natural stones from outside Canada, we also have natural stones from local quarries.
As a company, we want to reduce our carbon footprint and one way of doing this is ensuring that we use natural stone products that are sustainably sourced. We are able to achieve this with companies that have local quarries since we are able to monitor their quarry and factory operations.
An example of this is ensuring there is no excessive equipment idling, which is a careless practice which not only costs mining companies a lot of money, but that also increases the amount of pollutants in the air. We observe to ensure the mining company has an anti-idling policy and that it educates its employees on the cost of idling, that it uses anti-idling signage in cabs, and that it has installed auto shutdown timers on its large diesel equipment.
We are also able to monitor if miners are observing the set standards. This ensures that we only end up with quality natural stone products that comply with building codes. The most important standard is the ANSI/NSC 373 Sustainability Standard (Sustainable Production of Natural Dimension Stone Standard) which regulates the industry with well-defined ecological, environmental, social responsibility and human health metrics. We look at a manufacturer’s sustainable product achievement certification. There are 40 points up for grabs, with the 4 levels of the certification being bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. In more detail, below are what we look at to determine if natural stones are sustainable:
Minimal fresh water should be used in the processing of the stones and good quality water should be released back into the environment.
The operations must be energy efficient and the energy production process must have low carbon impact.
The transportation and handling of the stones must be efficient.
There must be an unbroken chain of certified organizations that are handling the stones from the quarry until they reach the end user. This is set out in the NSC (Natural Stone Council) Chain of Custody standard.
Red list chemicals must not be used anywhere in the process and the chemicals that are in use must be managed safely.
There must be a sustainable and responsible quarry reclamation strategy for quarries that have been ceased. This is important to us because failure to properly reclaim quarries and pits often leads to serious accidents.
Plans must be in place to ensure that workers have a safe and healthy working environment.
The process of stone fabrication must produce low amounts of solid waste and excess processed materials that end up in landfills.
The manufacturing process from quarrying to final stone fabrication must promote continuous transformation and improvement of the natural stone industry.
There must be a site-specific method of measurement to ensure environmental impacts are responsibly managed.
The mining company must demonstrate that it is socially responsible through CSR projects, employee programs, and workplace regulations.
We make regular visits to the quarries that supply us with natural stones. We ensure there are proper tracking measures in place so that you can easily track the source of the stones we are using. Stones from local quarries also cost less and we are able to pass this cost benefit to you, our customer. From the local quarries, we get flagstone, armour stone, riverrock, and boulders. Below is an overview of each of these types of stones.
We use flagstones in patios and walkways. Flagstone is a popular landscaping natural stone. The term comes from the word ‘flagge”, which is a Middle English name that means turf. Flagstone is a flat sedimentary rock that is usually a sandstone made up of quartz and feldspar. The rock, whose grain size is arenaceous (diameter of 0.16 mm to 2 mm), is split into layers that follow bedding planes and different layers are bound by iron oxide, silica, or calcite. The benefits of using flagstone include:
Flagstone comes in different colors, the most common being red, buff, and blue. There are also several exotic colors in existence.
Flagstone is acid resistant, meaning the stones can be laid on top of soil without worrying about an acidic reaction. The fact that you don’t have to use aggregate or concrete means you end up saving money.
Flagstone is a high-density material. It also has a low-absorption. These two characteristics make it ideal for Guelph’s climate that is characterized by warm, humid summers and cold winters. The stone is impervious to freeze-thaw conditions and it will not deteriorate or spall even with heavy usage.
Safety is an important advantage of flagstone. The stones are non-slip, making them ideal for walkways. The natural cleft texture characteristic of flagstone also makes them ideal for pool areas.
Flagstone is a good material for walkways not only because of its slip-resistance, but also its resistance to moisture and heat. Flagstone walkways have an average lifespan of 30 years.
If you do not want to actively maintain your yard, flagstone is a natural choice because it is low maintenance. The stone does not require polishing or any other action in its lifetime.
Flagstone pavers are naturally thin, which makes them user-friendly when working with them. The stones are easy to handle and to install.
The stone has great aesthetic appeal. The stones provide for a unique landscape since they come in different colors, shades, dimensions, thicknesses, and sizes.
If you are a nature lover and you want grass, moss, or a handy ground cover, flagstone allows you to achieve this. Other plants commonly planted between flagstone joints are Mint, various types of thyme, sedum, baby tears, and dichondra.
If you want a permeable surface, flagstone can be laid dry.
The versatility of flagstone means landscape designers are not tied to just one type of landscape. They can use random rectangular patterns for formal, organized looks. Irregular patterns, on the other hand, give a more organic, casual appearance.
Armour stone is rugged, making it ideal for retaining walls and stone features. Armour stones are solid, thick, heavy decorative walls, usually cut into jagged shapes to fit their intended purpose. The size of the stones and their simple locking mechanism (built-in lip at the bottom) make them ideal for retaining walls.
Armour stones have been used for hundreds of years, mostly as barriers against ravaging waters on the boarders of rivers and seas. The stones get their name from their work of offering protection against rising and falling tides. Although the stones are mostly used for their decorative nature, some still use them in functional (not just aesthetic) retaining walls.
The most common materials for armour stones are common granite or limestone. The most common color for the stones is limestone grey, but they also come in other colors. The major reasons for the popularity of these stones are:
The fact that the stones fit together strongly and easily means reduced danger of stones breaking off. This makes them ideal where you have kids and pets playing around. You don’t want to be worried about stones breaking off whenever they are outside playing.
Armour stones are low maintenance. The stones are natural and have been exposed to the elements for thousands of years, meaning they can handle anything Mother Nature throws at them.
No two armour stones are the same, giving your landscape a rich look and complementing the landscape.
The rocks can be placed anywhere in the lawn since they have a natural look. They are popularly used for flower beds, where they look like they are naturally occurring.
Armour stones are popularly used for water fountains for an impressive look. The durability of the stones means they do not degrade quickly even with this exposure to water.
Installing armour stones is easy and it takes little time. Although the process depends on the intended purpose, the general steps are:
- Surveying the area where the stones are to be installed
- Digging a trench that is 2 times the width of the stones
- Laying the landscaping fabric to prevent weed and plant growth under the wall (which could push it out of level)
- Placement of a gravel base that is about 2 inches deep and then leveling out the surface of the gravel with a compacting device
- Careful placement of the stones on top of each other, paying attention to ensure they are not susceptible to dislodgement
A simple formula is used to determine just how much armour stone is required. Multiply the length of the wall you want by the desired length and then multiply this figure by 2.5 and then by 170. Divide the number you get by 2,000 for the quantity you need to order in tons. However, our team will give a FREE on-site consultation, after which our experts will tell you exactly what you need to buy for the project.
Some of our clients prefer boulders as an alternative to armour stone in retaining walls and stone features. Boulders are large rocks that are mostly used as they come from nature. This means the boulders used in retaining walls and stone features are of different sizes. Great skill is required to lay boulders in such a way that they will not dislodge. In some cases, boulders are cut into smaller pieces to serve their intended purpose. The greatest benefits of using boulders are:
Boulders are low maintenance. Boulders actually look better with age when some moss and other greenery starts growing on them. Boulders are meant to be outdoors and you never need to worry about exposure to the elements.
The fact that boulders are used the way they are found in nature with no processing means they are cheaper than processed rocks.
Studies show that rocks are aesthetically pleasing – and boulders are the largest of them. Using boulders allows you to have a haven on your yard without breaking your bank.
Boulder retaining walls are important in defining space in the yard, in creating elevated beds for trees and flowers, in preventing soil erosion, and in increasing the resale value of a home.
The steps we use to create boulder retaining walls are:
- Selecting the location for the retaining wall and then excavating it around 2 inches deep
- Digging footing approximately 2 inches wide and with a depth of at least 8 inches and using a long bar level or a line level to ensure the base of the footing is level
- Compacting any loose soil at the bottom of the footing using a shovel or a plate tamper
- Filling the footing with coarse gravel, spreading the gravel evenly, and then compacting it with a shovel or a plate tamper
- Leveling the top of the gravel with a line level or a long level and them smoothening the surface with a plate tamper or a garden rake
- Placing the first row of boulders in position, ensuring the desired face of the boulders is facing outwards and ensuring that the flatter side if facing the top (to ensure the next layer fits more easily)
- Placing the second row of boulders while ensuring the entire row is moving slightly backwards at an angle of ½ to 1 inch for stability
- Placing the soil-blocking fabric on the dirt side of the wall
- Backfilling soil on the dirt side of the wall with coarse stone at the bottom and then covering the soil with the remaining soil-blocking fabric before backfilling the rest of the soil
The most common boulder materials are limestone, fieldstone, and iron range. Limestone is known for its durability – it can withstand intense forces, including the forces that are related to soil movement. Fieldstone has a natural, rustic look that makes your yard a haven. Iron range is affordable and is ideal for large-scale projects.
At M.D.S. Projects Ltd., we use locally mined boulders. Boulders are heavy and importing them is not only expensive, but it would also increase our carbon footprint.
We use riverrock for gardens, drainage systems, and stone features. Riverrock, as the term suggests, is a rock that comes from the river. These rocks are characterized by smooth texture and round shape which is achieved after years of sculpturing by the forces of water. Using riverrock in your gardens, drainage systems, and stone features has several benefits.
Maintaining riverrock is not easy when you let your weed problem get out of hand. Larger rocks also settle into the soil, which is why we install a landscape fabric underneath the rocks during the landscape construction phase.
Riverrocks have an attractive look. The stones, which are usually black in color, can be bought in a small or large size to fit your desired need. Riverrock is particularly beautiful when wet, making it a great choice for flowerbeds and other areas that get a lot of water.
Given that riverrock is sculpted by water, it follows that the stone is incredibly long-lasting. A lesser material would have been dissolved in water.
Riverrock is better than its main gardening competitor, mulch, in that although mulch retains water and prevents erosion, it will decay with time and you would need to replace it every year or so.
Riverrock is a good choice for areas where you want the water to sip down to the soil because the shape and size of the shapes make them very permeable.
You could create a water feature using riverrock where you group the rocks around the fountain. You can create a dry river bed which is a stone-lined stream bed mimicking a natural stream and which creates an impressive focal point. Other common uses of riverrocks are between stepping stones, which eliminates weeding, in edging flower beds, walkways, and garden beds, and beneath gutter downspouts to prevent damage to nearby plants.
Our team has the training and experience to install all these types of natural stones. The team is also certified by most major manufacturers, which means your manufacturer warranty will not be void in the unlikely case of damage.
You should come to us because we guarantee honesty in all our dealings, respect to your home, family, and neighborhood, quality workmanship, and cleanliness. We are available for any question you may have on our natural stone services on 519-827-7057 or firstname.lastname@example.org.