Pavers and Cobblestone
What's out there: Pavers come in a wide range of shapes and patterns, from unusual ones like trefoil and anvil to common designs like bow tie, keyhole and hexagon. Cobblestone, or Belgian block, is more traditional and comes only in a rectangular shape.

Pros: Lots of choices for pavers. Cobblestones easily last 100 years, pavers somewhat less depending on soil preparation and drainage. Stained and broken pavers are easy to replace, as are individual cobblestones.

Although cobblestones tend to trap ice and snow, removing both is easy with pavers if they're properly installed.

Cons: Pavers are relatively expensive, and cobblestone tops the cost spectrum. Installation requires careful excavating and preparation. Pavers and cobblestones can settle unevenly if sand layer over gravel base compacts, while the wide joints between cobblestones invite weeds and grass.

Cost: From 50 cents to $1.50 each for pavers, or $6 to $10 per square foot installed with bed preparation depending on the intricacy of the design. For cobblestone, figure on about $13 per square foot.

Recommendations: Visit a four-year-old job and check for settling before hiring a contractor. Be wary of landscapers installing pavers or cobblestones as a sideline - specialized skills are required. Remember that these surfaces are only as good as the compacted sand and crushed stone they're laid on. Insist on compacted subsoil, a 10-in. layer of 3/4-minus gravel and a 1 1/2-in. layer of coarse bedding sand with compaction between layers. Cobblestones are laid up like brick, but pavers require a plastic retaining edge. The main supplier is Pave Edge ($2 per foot).

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