If you're planning to add paving to your back yard, you may be surprised by the range of different paving materials available. Which one is right for you depends on exactly what the paved area will be used for, the visual effect you're trying to achieve and your budget.
Robust, versatile and affordable, concrete is a common material for pavers. It's available in a range of colours and textures. Over time, concrete pavers can crack as they wear, so you may need to replace them from time to time. If water management is a concern, look into permeable concrete pavers, which let rainwater pass through them into the soil.
Granite is an extremely durable material for paving, with a texture and appearance that make it very popular. The characteristic flecked, patchy colour will vary slightly from one paver to the next, breaking up the appearance of uniformity. It's available in a range of different shades, from the common dark grey to more unusual hues. However, granite is also typically one of the more expensive paving materials, which could make it impractical for paving a large area.
Easier to cut, and therefore less expensive than granite, sandstone is a light-coloured stone with a marked internal pattern that can make each paver look pleasingly different. Irregular sandstone paving can have uneven edges, so make sure these are well-covered. If you're interested in eco-friendly, look for reclaimed sandstone pavers salvaged from old buildings; not only do these reuse an important resource but they add charm and character to a paved area. Under heavy pressure, these pavers can crack, so they may not be suitable for driveways or other high-traffic areas.
Rugged and affordable, brick doesn't require much maintenance when properly laid down. Individual bricks can be arranged in different patterns to give different visual effects. For an added rustic touch, you can use reclaimed brick, which gives the space a weathered appearance.
Hard-wearing and varied in colour, flagstone is a popular paving material made from natural stone such as slate. One advantage of this type of paving is that its slightly rough surface makes it a good non-slip option in wet weather.
Whichever paving material you choose, it will be safest and most effective if properly installed with the correct layer of bedding beneath it. If laid and bonded safely, the paved area of your yard will last for years.