Pavers are an undeniably beautiful and popular aspect of landscape design. Unfortunately, they are also quite time-consuming to install and can get pricey. In your native landscape with lots of tall, dense plantings, they may seem like an unnecessary expense since your plants create their own border. However, if you have the time and money, I would highly recommend getting some pavers, even (and especially!) if your landscape has a high density. This is because pavers have practical value along with their aesthetic appeal, and using pavers could increase the overall ecological quality of your landscape.
The main practical benefit of pavers is that they create a hard border between your path/lawn and your plant bed. Having a hard, consistent border is essential to maintaining the quality of everything inside and outside the bed. To understand why, let’s consider what happens when you mow or weed-whack the edge of your bed.
As you mow many times over the course of the year, the movements of your mower are rarely the exact same every time. This is no problem in the middle of your lawn, but at the edges of your plantings, every variation means either cutting back productive plants or not cutting enough of the lawn. Both of these situations result in the creation of a disturbed area, which invasive weeds like Queen Anne’s Lace or Reed Canary Grass happily exploit. When these weeds get a foothold, they can completely take over and ruin an area.
Take a look at this planting. Where is the edge? Where did it used to be? Would you want to try to weed this?
In contrast, pavers communicate exactly where one space ends and another begins, so you don’t have any inconsistencies when you mow the edge. They also provide a physical barrier to prevent lawn grass and shallow-rooted weeds from establishing outside of a bed and then creeping in. In this way, the health of your bed is improved and you don’t have to worry as much about creating disturbances.
Overall, pavers can be an ecologically productive addition to your landscape as well as an aesthetic one. Even if you haven’t installed them before, it is a fun experience to try, and nothing is as rewarding as creating that perfect curve. A clean edge isn’t just nice for your eyes— it’s nice for your plants too!