It is ubiquitous, but it is timeless, not cliché. That is a difficult combination and almost oxymoronic in scope.
And yet, Pennsylvania bluestone has managed to increase its popularity in landscape design while not burning out the public, architects or designers who still specify it as a premium option to modular and cast pavers. Bluestone is still one of a handful of materials that exemplifies a quality hardscape presentation in the garden regardless of setting.
Perhaps that is because in one material there is still an assortment of appearances available that continue to whet our design appetites.
As to pattern, it can be dimensional or irregular. In color it can be full range, lilac (plum) or hand selected blue-blue. It can have heavy natural cleft or almost none. It can be thermal or tumbled. Treads can be split faced, rock faced or bull-nosed. Joints can be tight or open as in a permeable installation.
In addition to paving material it can also be found as masonry wall or drywall applications for retaining and seat walls. It can be used as coping with the face finished to match stair treads. It is equally impressive with mortared joints or dry set with sand or gravel. Bluestone makes a great stepping stone option through garden beds or as pathways.
And so, regardless of its popularity it is much like a luxury car in that it provides so many options that it never becomes mundane or trite. Landscape designs are featuring more and more bluestone as both a sign of status and practicality.
Frequently referenced as slate, bluestone is actually sandstone quarried only in Pennsylvania and a small area of New York. While not difficult to install, it requires more time and an experienced crew due to nominal differences in thickness. It is normally purchased as one inch or two inch material. Under almost any circumstance it is preferable to install the thicker material for stability as the thinner material sometimes generates echoes from foot traffic.
Bluestone enhances the most traditional Tudor, post-modern contemporary or neo-classical residence with equal dignity and style. There is no fading or aggregate exposure after time and if it needs to be re-set in fifty or one hundred years all of the material will be as good as the day it was laid. The freeze-thaw cycle will not affect the material beyond an occasional separation or flaking of loose cleft.
Bluestone can be “at home” in contemporary or traditional landscape because of its variable features.
If you want to make a timeless, upscale statement with your patio and landscape design, then bluestone becomes one of the obvious options.