It is time to create a beautiful landscape at your home or business.  Where do you start? What do you look for? This article assists consumers like you in understanding the interlock industry in the GTA.

When searching for a contractor for your interlock dream, whether it be a walkway, front entrance, driveway, patio, pool deck, or a combination, it boils down to a few key aspects:

 

  • Selecting the Right Interlock Contractor
  • Pricing and Warranty
  • Advice
  • Colour
  • Design
  • Products
  • Upgrade
  • Construction

 

 

Selecting the Right Interlock Contractor

Choosing the right interlock installer or contractor is very important in ensuring a quality installation.  I’ve noticed in the industry that the best way to decide is by referral; family, friends, neighbours, co-workers and the internet are the best guide.  Ask if they have had work done in the past with a particular company.  Once you’ve been introduced to the recommended company, ask to see some of the projects they have worked on to ensure they are the quality you want.  I do not recommend trying a new company and negotiating a price for multiple homes combined and expecting identical pricing.  The reason for this is that each project is specific to your home.  I have yet to see two properties that are the same, even when the builders (e.g. Mattamy) home is identical, the landscape varies.  With this variation the project requires different installation techniques.  A good relationship between the customer and the business should be felt out. You need to choose someone you’re comfortable with because this is a big investment and with the right contractor you will get positive return on investment; with the wrong contractor things get interesting (as I discuss this below).

Pricing and Warranty

The price of the jobs will vary, I recommend getting 3 quotes to ensure your comfort level and a fair price.  I get called out to homes and the customer explains they have gotten quotes for less money and this is very important to them – I agree we live in an economy where the price is important, but to what extent is the lowest price that important?… Let me explain what happens time and time again:  The client tells me that they would rather go with me because they see the professional aspects, but they are conflicted because they will save, for example, $1000 with a competitor.  If they make the decision to go with me, based on my professional standards, the project is installed properly, it looks amazing and the client is happy.  Frequently, one month later I get the call… “please come and help us, they’ve screwed up the project”, or “we are in an argument”, or “now they are asking for more money for the same project”, or worse “it’s finished, but not installed properly or professionally”.  At this point the client has likely paid for the job in full, and it actually lowers the property value because of the inferior installation quality.  At this point I explain that we have to pick up the work that is complete and redo it – this cost is far greater than the $1000 they initially tried to save. Additionally, in the contracting business there some companies that we call “fly by night” who offer cheaper pricing and longer warranty periods.  The issue with these “fly by nights” is that by undercutting the budget, they do not have the ability to honor the warranty. Moreover, in some cases they do not have the required insurance to protect you, the homeowner, from a work place injury. A typical warranty from a legitimate landscape/interlock company is 1 year.  The reason for this is that if something is going to go wrong it will happen within the first year.  Companies that offer a warranty for 2 or more years are using this as a selling tactic. I would advise researching them prior to signing a contract and advise a degree of caution.  Undercutting the budget to get a contract is not a long term plan for a business and those businesses that do this usually have the phone number change season by season.  Stick to a legitimate company and you will be able to contact them the following season. Furthermore, you will have a project that is built well, so that when you are ready for your next project they will be one phone call away.

 

Advice

This all being said I would advise going with the middle price range. These contractors tend to offer a better client experience (Paradise Contracting Ltd., Platoon Landscaping & General Contracting). Do your research and find a great fit for you.  There are many great companies out there and when it’s done right the result is astonishingly beautiful and profitable.  I love driving by and seeing projects built properly, with a great design, and that lasts for years to come.

 

Colour

Landscaping is a fun and beautiful way to upgrade your home.  Interlock is great for design!  It offers so many colours, shapes and textures that the options are endless.  When choosing a colour scheme for your home or building, be sure to choose colours that offer a bit of a contrast to the vertical face of the house.  This helps the brain and eyes to distinguish between the walkway and the house.

Design

The shape you choose is a personal decision. For example, some of my clients must have straight lines and others prefer  curvilinear (curving) lines.  Either way, with the right designer your project will come to life.  In design I advise using clusters of 3 or 5, odd numbers are visually more appealing to the human eye.

Linear (straight) lines go back to Roman and Greek times, this style has been around for thousands of years, needless to say it is a classic look. =Curvilinear (curving) lines are organic, free flowing, and wonderful to work with. They have been around since the beginning of time. With both of these options it is safe to say you will make the right decision either way.

Occasionally I get clients that like both, so we incorporate a combination of curved and straight lines.  Be certain the proportions are appropriate and the space is usable. To help with clarifying these decisions your landscape designer or sales person will be able to spray paint the outline on your property before the work is installed. This way you know what proportions you are getting and that the space is useable for all of your friends and family.

In recent years the design has been pushing for a different colour border or inset border.  This adds to your project, frames it nicely, and gives the eyes something more to look at.  It does cost a bit more money, but money will be wisely spent. You will be using the space for years to come, or using it to stage your home for resale. In fact, real estate agents come to us all the time, asking us to design and install a front entrance, side walk way, and rear patio, essentially staging the home for resale.  These items add profits for the clients and the agents.  In addition, patios open up the usable space for the home, essentially adding 600 square feet at a fraction of the price you would pay for an extension on the home.  When thinking about using your new space, you could have guests over, let them enjoy some fresh air, and it saves on the clean up later on.   Outdoor living is enjoyable for all, it adds an element to your entertaining.

When I design a front entrance I encourage clean site lines to the front door. This enhances the front entrance so that the doors are prominent.  This feature makes the home appear much more inviting.

The larger scale projects (front yard, driveway, side and full rear yard) are the most enjoyable for me to work on.  With these large projects, the design process allows us to offer features such as outdoor kitchens, fire pits, built-in BBQ’s, entrances, and custom driveways with different textures. Think of creating your outdoor living space to be the same as your interior – Kitchen, bar area, living room for seating – these features will allow you to break up the space and make it more usable while working with the outdoor elements.  In this case I would advise having an architectural scaled drawing put together so that you can plan out your project within budget and then you will know what you are getting in advance.  Typical drawing pricing ranges from $250-$2500 depending on the complexity and size of the project drawing.

Products

They offer different shapes, colours and textures to suit your home. There are many options for selecting a paver and this is sometimes a daunting task for my clients.  In order to simplify this task it is important to understand that everyone offers a similar product and one manufacturer may have a colour the other does not or a texture you desire (Uni-Lock, Techno-Bloc). I highly recommend going to your local garden centre (Peel Landscape Depot) or manufacturer to see the interlock (pavers) in person prior to placing an order.  Take a look at the colours and compare them to the catalog. Take note of the differences. Be sure to feel the texture of the interlock (pavers) choose something that is both comfortable on bare feet for the children and still offers grip, especially for the winter months like we have in Milton, Mississauga, Burlington, Hamilton, Brampton, and Oakville.

Upgrade

If you are looking for a stately style, the combination of flagstone (Banas Stones) and interlock is incredible. This will leave your front or rear yard landscape as stunning. You see this in areas like Lorne Park, Mississauga Rd, Lakeshore (Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga), and all over Etobicoke. Natural stone (The Pebble Man) is the most beautiful product, wears well and ties in nicely with interlock.  Utilizing local products is a nice idea because transporting the product produces less pollution than transporting foreign products. What makes or breaks the flagstone, in my opinion, is the bullnose on the steps (risers) or walls, make sure to specify so that it is thick, 2-1/2”-3” looks fantastic – it comes in rounded or rock face formats.  This definitely makes the job look 5 star.

Construction

Interlock (Uni-lock) is a long lasting product that offers flexibility during frost and stays in place when installed correctly.  The correct construction method is required for the best long lasting results.  The foundation is typically on a residential project 3/4” crush gravel base ranging from a 6”-20” depth depending on the area.  For example, the walkway and patio, which are spaces used for people to walk on, 6-8” is fine and will last for 20+ years if maintained properly.  A driveway, on the other hand, is used to support cars, which are much heavier objects than humans, and therefore I would advise a minimum of 10” depth of crush gravel base (for a compact car, Civic, Corolla etc.).  If you drive a large SUV or van, it is going to cost more for the dirt to come out and the extra gravel to go in. In these cases I advise going deeper, closer to 20”.  A great contractor will address this with you during the sale.  The next crucial step in construction that needs to happen is compaction.  You need to ensure 98% Standard Procter Density (S.P.D.).  Upon installation the plate tamper must go over the area while adding water several times, 5 times minimum, if possible do more.  The next step is to add 1-2” of limestone screening to level the area that the interlocking pavers will rest on.  Limestone screening is not structural, it simply provides a layer so the interlock (pavers) can be graded and leveled.  Finally, polymeric sand is put in between the stones and then water is added to turn into a concrete-like material that does not allow seeds, soil, and dust to build between the stones. This needs to be topped approximately every year or two. Performing this process properly will result in virtually no maintenance for an extended period.

Strapping/Edging

A common product that clients inquire about is strapping, also called edging.  The product claims to reinforce the outer edge of the interlock, and stop the pavers from pushing out over time. Unfortunately the product does perform as claimed.  The issue with the strapping/edging is that the frost will push the metal spikes out of the ground over the winter, and must be reinstalled in the spring.  The additional cost is not worth actual performance.  Instead, the pavers (interlock) will stay in place for many years on their own.  If you want some sort of edging system, I recommend mixing up some concrete and putting a small amount around the edge to hold the pavers in place.   This is stronger, lasts longer, is more visually appealing and is safer for bare feet..

Conclusion

Landscaping and interlock is an investment in your property.  It is beautiful and lasts for a long time.  Design it so that you have the nicest interlock landscaping on your street!  Find the right contractor for you, pay fairly, and get the superior quality you want so that you will have great return on investment.  Clients work with me over many years on different projects because of the success we share together. They strongly recommend me to their friends, family and businesses.  I hope you find the right company for your project!  Feel free to send me pictures of your potential project.

I hope this information is of help to you and if you have any questions feel free to contact us through our website or you can e-mail me directly.

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– Matthew Rosenbloom, Monet Landscape Director