One of the beautiful but sometimes forgotten materials used in hardscape installation is brick. It is used extensively in the eastern part of the country, common in home construction due to it’s properties that tolerate wet, cold, snowy winters. Brick is a rectangular block of clay hardened by heat – either drying in the sun (less durable and not for outdoor use), or burned in a kiln. It retains heat, withstands corrosion, and is fire resistant, and has been used as a building material for at least five thousand years. Used less so here in California, where the winters are milder, as natural stone and stamped concrete seem to be more popular choices.img054

Bricks are uniform in size, shape and consistency, and therefore relatively easy to install. At Details Landscape Art, we design and install gorgeous patios and walkways all over the North Bay, including Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Windsor, Sonoma, Cotati, Penngrove, San Rafael, Novato, Terra Linda, Corte Madera and Larkspur. Brick is an excellent choice of materials, especially when the home already features this material in  construction or as an accent.

Cooper Patio

Brick patios and walkways can be either sand-set or mortar-set; at Details Landscape Art we only mortar-set, since the sand-set construction style is less permanent and subject to shifts in the ground. Adobe soil which expands with moisture in the rainy season, and shrinks in the bone dry summer and fall months (as well as the occasional earthquake), causes the ground beneath the sand set bricks to move, both side to side and up and down. The bricks which are set perfectly flat and even will shift with this earth movement. We became frustrated with call backs to repair and reset the bricks. The mortar-set bricks areas solid as the concrete base, and will withstand earth movement, high foot traffic and entertaining furniture for many many years without failing. Yes, it is a more expensive method, since it is a two-step process. First the concrete base is poured in the shape as designed, and then the bricks are laid over the hardened concrete and mortared and grouted. Brick steps are almost always mortar-set.img052

These materials can be arranged in several different patterns, including running bond, herringbone and basket weave, circular or radial, and an unlimited variety of custom designs and patterns within patterns. Curved patios and walkways will require more cuts at the perimeter.

Brick is also useful as an accent or as a border. We love seeing an exposed aggregate step with a brick edge,

Bullnose charcoal brick edging on exposed aggregate steps

or a herringbone  walkway with a straight brick border.


We also build brick mowing strips around lawns, always mortar set on a concrete base. Curved patios and walkways will require more cuts at the perimeter – the border hides the cut pieces around the curves.

Although the photos show a variety of colors, one of our local sources, McNear Brick and Block, has an informative website that shows the dozens of styles and colors that are available. Details Landscape Art builds beautiful patios, walkways, driveways and mowing strips using a variety of colors and patterns of brick.