Should I Use Natural Stones or Pavers for my Patio and Walkway?

We get this question a lot. What we really hear is, “is it okay if I use pavers instead of natural stones?”

And we get it. Northern New Jersey is a beautiful place, so our clients often worry if they’re doing a disservice to the beauty of their landscape by installing anything but natural stone.

But the answer, right away, is yes. A million times, yes.

Natural stones are wonderful. We love them, and we’ll talk your ear off about them. Flagstone, slate, limestone, bluestone — you name it. But natural stones aren’t right for every budget and, more importantly, they’re not right for every yard. Northern New Jersey folks, we guarantee that some of the most stunning homes you drive by in Bergen County (you know the ones) use concrete pavers. We should know: we’ve installed more than a few of them.

At Auburn Sky Landscaping, we caution our clients against thinking of landscaping in terms of natural = good, unnatural = bad. Because, let’s be honest, beautiful stone walkways and patios don’t spring out of the ground. All patios and walkways are, in some sense, unnatural. You know that, and your neighbors know that. And that’s okay! The important thing is that your yard doesn’t look artificial.

A well-designed landscape perfectly marries the natural beauty of a property with a) the homeowner’s personal style and b) functional elements that emphasize how they want to use the space. That means that some properties are just begging for an intricate herringbone patterned paver stone walkway. And that means that some people have such big, bold personalities that we encourage them to use big, bold paver slabs for their patio.

Still, it’s a tricky decision, and it helps to know the nuances of each option. So we’re here to help.

Why Choose Natural Stones?

Mother (Nature) knows best. Natural stones exude a sense of history, and work particularly well in landscapes with plenty of natural beauty built right in. If you want your property’s natural beauty to be the main focus, and if you have the money to spend, natural stones are an excellent option.

But natural stones don’t have to break the bank. Case in point: this backyard sitting area we installed a few years ago.

Remember when we said that Northern New Jersey is beautiful? Yeah. This is what we’re talking about. A beautiful natural rise leading up to an old-growth forest. With this space, we wanted the border between the natural space and the designed space to feel seamless. An elaborate walkway wouldn’t have felt right here. So we installed a simple, natural stone gravel walkway, and let Mother Nature do most of the talking.

Two lawn chairs at sit at the end of a natural stone walkway. They are next to a waterfall.

Why Choose Pavers?

It’s true: pavers are generally cheaper than natural stone. If you’re particularly budget-conscious for your patio or walkway, or just want to spend that money somewhere else in your landscape, pavers are an excellent option.

That doesn’t mean that pavers come across as cheap, though. Much the opposite, really. At Auburn Sky Landscaping, we trust Techo-Bloc and Cambridge Pavers for all our paver slab and stone needs. Their products are universally beautiful, are an excellent value, and will stand the test of time.

Which is to say that the real reason why we recommend pavers in so many of our clients yards isn’t because they’re cheaper. It’s because of the design flexibility they offer.

Pavers fall into two broad categories: paver slabs and paver stones.

If you want to make a bold, purposeful statement with your patio, paver slabs are just the thing. We often install paver slabs when we want a client’s patio to be a dramatic centerpiece of their new landscape.

Paver stones are smaller, and so are perfect when installing beautiful herringbone or 3-piece random patterns in patios or walkways. It’s often hard to tell the difference between properly installed paver stones and natural stones.

A view of a paver stone walkway from the front steps of a home. The walkway has a circular pattern in the center, and has a low wall on one side.

Why Not Both?

The good news is that you don’t have to choose. In many of the landscapes we install, we use a combination of natural stone and pavers to achieve that perfect balance between beauty and budget.

And, yes, that balance can be hard to find. Every yard is different, and there are no cut-and-dry answers. But that’s why you hire a landscape contractor in the first place! At Auburn Sky we’re experts in designing and installing both natural stones and pavers, but we take enough pride in our work that we won’t try to upsell you on a natural stone patio or walkway if your yard doesn’t need it. You want a landscape that encourages you to be outside — a landscape you can be you in. We want to help you get there.