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I have this terrace in front of my house.

It is paved with very knee-abrasive dales. And I would like to make it a better place for my child which will soon learn how to walk and fall there. Moreover the dales get dark with time, pretty bad looking. I tried using high pressure cleaner, but it is a lot of work for a bad result, because the sand beneath the dales comes out...

South-faced, it gets really hot and uncomfortable. I feel it is too much work for me to remove wild grass that continuously comes growing here.

my uncomfortable terrace

Does anyone has any ideas on how I could make the place better, i.e. avoid weeding (mowing it from time to time would be ok), have less heating radiating from the place, and a less abrasive surface?

  • I thought of a textile to cover a good part of it, but does it last long? Does it come with any inconvenient?

  • I love observing plants growing, so I wouldn't mind covering it completely with fast-spreading, walk-through and drought resistant weeds or plants. Any suggestion ?

Especially, which kind of flat-covering plants would be appropriate for such a difficult place? I leave in East-France, a little high in the hills (650m above see level), this makes maybe something in the 7b-6a hardiness zone.

Here is what comes naturally here:

Savory:

Savory on my terrace

Thyme:

Thyme on my terrace

White Clover:

White clover on my terrace

something else?

And these two others I don't know of: something I know not

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Consider pulling out select tiles and replace them with plants. You can pull out a large section and insert some type of shrub or shade inducing plant to help with the heat. For the rest you could remove the pieces in a checker board fashion and replace it with ground covers such as the Thyme or oregano. That would yield a better softer surface for play. You could also consider different types of horizontal and mounding creeping junipers for interest.

That probably sounds like a lot of work, so hopefully someone can suggest an easier solution to the harshness of the material.

  • I'll consider that, but I'd rather keep the surface as flat as possible and keep the possibility to set a table and chairs outside. Thanks for suggesting! – J. Chomel Jun 14 '17 at 19:06
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cmu patio same elevation as floor in home

The problem I see as the biggest problem mainly because I am a barefoot nut. Ugh, exposed aggregate is horrible. There is no way to change that other than purchasing a different patio tile; Roman Cobble, concrete, smooth finish, 2" thick by 7" X 9". Depending on the condition of your patio bed would be pretty easy to change out and enlarge. Gotta have the correct amount of gravel, compacted and 2" of mason sand, exacting levels and lines and a soft mallet and a 2X4. Edging to keep your CMU's from shifting outwards. Easy Peasy. I'd also consider a low garden/sitting wall for one side and corner, raising the soil behind it for a plant bed. Drainage!!

Some examples, have others but right now they are inaccessible. I would also consider a fire pit! Fire pits got me more clients than anything else. Do one for someone and all their neighbors had to have one. And they do not have to be round!

I've got very thick soles on my feet. I can run in gravel...pine forests. Walk in snow. But babies? Ugh. You'd have to throw a blanket to cover these stupid pavers for your baby to play on. A low 15-18" CMU wall with concrete caps, dove grey (a percentage of dark versus light, ashlar pattern) would make this patio far more usable and increase the value of your home...big time.

Be confident at enlarging this patio by segueing off to add at least a 10X 10 or 12X 12. Make plant beds by double digging. Roman Cobble was the best shape, price for a patio floor. Butted up tight.

Check your bed. Without a proper bed patio tiles end up looking unprofessional. Landscape fabric beneath 4" crushed gravel, compacted, 2" of mason sand, compacted before laying the pavers. Use lots of string, levels. The surface can't be perfectly level. 1-2% slope away from your home. Pressure washing every other year controls those weeds.

And if you want to do the job really well, there should be a patio of tiles at the same level as the floor in your home. That patio should be no less than 12x12. Then stepping down to another section. Plant beds and small patio trees such as 3 or 5 Amelanchier, Service berry, multi trunked trees as part of this 'room'. The rest of your landscape should incorporate the same type of plants and groups of the same type of trees.

When you step out of the door right onto your patio...you should not be able to see your entire yard. Just tantalizing bits. This is a big rule in Landscape Architecture for residential/commercial projects. The money you put into this patio will absolutely raise the value of your home. Far more than a wooden deck or just another concreted surface. There is also

...building code that sets a certain percentage of non permeable surfaces. Need to find out what that is and how much farther you could push that boundary. Gravel makes an incredible, informal patio extension but also contributes to less permeable surface area.

cmu patio instead of a deck

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