Decorative landscaping not only adds value to your property immediately through form and function, it also increases in value as the years go by. Your present-day self will bask in the aesthetic appeal of a shapely stone patio and fire pit lined with pebbles, whereby your future self will rejoice in the financial rewards of a 5-15% increase* in your home’s resale value. This is a basic guide that will help you become familiar with the best filler, base materials, and decorative landscaping rocks on the market so you can design your California home’s exterior with confidence.
Design for Function, Then Form
Start with determining the primary function and form of your space prior to selecting the materials. Gather information about the site and who will use it. Prioritize your needs and wants, while keeping maintenance requirements in mind. Factor in if the area will have plants and whether or not it will see a lot of traffic.
Once these specifics are taken into account, look at matching your home’s aesthetics. If your residence is clean and contemporary, you may lean towards chipped rock in black slate or desert gold. If you want to compliment a Spanish Colonial style, use cobblestone or green aqua cove pebbles around a water fountain. There are so many options, so let’s first define and give examples of the best use for fillers, base materials, and decorative landscaping rocks.
Sand, rock and gravel can add just as much appeal to you landscaping as Japanese maples, flowering perennials, and yellow daffodils. Add color, texture and functionality to your hardscape by using filler materials that will last through every season. Filler materials serve a variety of purposes, including acting as a weed barrier, backfilling a drainage run, outlining a walkway, directing natural water flow, and creating a strong foundation. You can achieve a soft and rustic look on your pathway with buff, orange, and pink hues in the Taffy fines. Or you can utilize pea gravel as a ground cover that won’t demolish the soles of your feet if you end up running across the area barefoot. Below are a few categories and examples worth noting.
Fillers & Their Functions:
- For laying bricks or stone – Fine Coarse sands, such as concrete sand, and gray sand are fillers best used for laying stone or brick, creating trenches, burying cable or pipes, etc.
- For pathways and driveways – Smaller gravel, such as ¼ or ⅜ inch pea gravel, are great for pathways and medium sized gravel like crushed drain rock are great for driveways. You can also use a grid stabilizing system like CoreGravel Pathway or CoreGravel Driveway to stabilize your gravel without it sinking.
- For dog runs and patios – Path fines are excellent for use in dog runs and patios. They can also be used between flagstone and pavers in a backyard patio, or as waterway directionals to help mitigate soil erosion. Path fines can be either stabilized (which mean they contain a natural plant based binder) or natural.
- For potholes, French drains, perforated drain pipes, etc. – The ¾ inch crushed drain rock works well for this and provides a sturdy, stable foundation.
Base materials, also called paver bases, are used underneath concrete and asphalt in foundations, pathways, patios, and driveways. Stability is most important and typically they do not drain water. However, some base rocks are water permeable so they can help reestablish a more natural hydrologic balance. Permeable pavements reduce runoff volume by catching precipitation and slowly allowing it to infiltrate into the soil below. Grid stabilizing systems, like CoreGravel Pathway or CoreGravel Driveway, are also great base materials for stabilizing your gravel without it sinking.
Decorative Landscaping Rocks
Whether you want a sharper look with more angular lines or a soft and subtle appeal of rounded pebbles, decorative landscaping rocks have you covered. There are numerous options when it comes to the size, colors, finish, and type so that allow you to create the aesthetic of your choice. For example:
- Great for playgrounds, sand boxes, beaches, volleyball courts, etc. – Finer sand such as Olympia Sand would be ideal.
- Great for gardens, walkways, and decorative landscape accents – Any crushed rock variation, along with decorative, polished, or premium pebbles are perfect for building an outdoor oasis. Choose your desired size and color to make a gorgeous garden or garden walkway. Select the desert gold for a succulent garden, or install black button la paz pebbles to bring a natural Mexican beach vibe to your koi pond.
The key to landscaping in California is to maximize water efficiency, and strategically use decorative rocks and fillers in places where plants can’t grow. Designing your exteriors to be functional, efficient, and aesthetically appealing is a great way to increase your enjoyment and the value of your home.