If you’re looking for ways to increase the landscaping appeal of your home, consider a beautiful slate walkway. As a natural material that’s mined from the earth, slate provides excellent strength, durability and easy maintenance. It holds up well in any climate and various weather conditions, so you can expect many years of outdoor beauty for your Bergen County home.
What is Slate?
Slate is a fine-grained, metamorphic rock. It gets its unique appearance and character when layers of shale or mudstone shift far beneath the earth’s surface creating thin layers of rock, one on top of another. Slate is composed mainly of clay minerals or micas, silicate minerals that form in distinct layers. Slate often contains high levels of quartz that gives it a unique texture, as well as small amounts of other minerals like calcite, feldspar, pyrite and hematite found deep beneath the earth’s surface.
Because of its durability, slate is suitable for a variety of landscaping design projects including driveways, sidewalks and walkways, patios and terraces, pool and spa decks, stair treads and garden areas. Slate is a material that holds up well outdoors in all climate and weather conditions, even in cold northern New Jersey winters. Because it absorbs minimal moisture, it stands up well to freezing rain, sleet and snow without cracking.
Although slate naturally forms abundantly in shades of gray from light to dark, it can also occur in beautiful shades of green, red, blue, purple, gold, brown and black. The color of slate is often determined by the amount and type of iron and organic materials that are present in the rock. Whether you want a dramatic front yard entrance or a casual backyard garden path, a slate walkway will create unique landscaping appeal.
The Organic Beauty of Slate
Because of the way slate forms underground, it offers unique textures and variations of intense colors that aren’t found in other natural stones. Slate provides organic beauty and natural appeal because no two pieces are ever alike. The earthy, organic appearance of slate creates a unique style that works well with any type of architecture. It blends easily into any type of landscape, whether it’s formal and sophisticated or casual and rustic.
African slate is known for its beautiful color variations in rich shades of blues, oranges, tans and grays. If you’re looking for strong contrast in your landscape, African slate will provide bold pops of color.
Brazilian slate comes in sophisticated shades of black and gray, as well as many unique color variations. In some colors, slate pieces can vary significantly in shade and intensity from piece to piece.
Vermont slate tends to have a smoother texture and less color variation than Brazilian slate. It offers a more uniform design appeal and less contrast when used as a slate walkway in the landscape.
Chinese and Indian Slate
Slates mined in China and India offer exotic color variations, but they tend to be softer and more porous than African, Brazilian and Vermont slates. They should be used in landscape areas that are not prone to heavy use and foot traffic.
Slate mined from quarries in Brazil, Vermont, New York, England, Portugal and Wales are known for their durability and high-quality stones. If you purchase slate produced in these areas, you can expect your slate walkway to last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance.
When installing slate for an outdoor environment, it’s important to choose the right finish. You have an option of three different finishes for slate:
If a slate tile is clefted, the surface is kept the way it was when it was quarried. This means the surface will be rough, bumpy and uneven. Cleft slate provides great traction and is an excellent slip-resistant surface, but can be uncomfortable to walk on without shoes.
A honed finish means that the slate has been slightly sanded, so it has a natural, slightly dull look. Honed slate works well in all types of landscapes and provides good slip resistance for a slate walkway.
Polished slate is fairly rare because slate is not really suited for a glossy finish like marble and granite. A polished finish on any stone makes the stone slippery, so polished stones are best used indoors where this is not a problem.
Slate Landscaping Ideas for Your Home
Slate is a great material for driveways because of its strength, durability, easy cleaning and maintenance. For best protection from potential stains and oil leaks, you’ll want to seal the slate when you install the driveway and once each year thereafter. If you want to add sophisticated style to the front of your home, a slate driveway is sure to turn a few heads from guests and neighbors.
Although slate is dense and durable, it’s softer and easier to cut than granite and marble. If you prefer the appeal of a garden walkway with winding curves instead of straight sections, a slate walkway is easier to cut and install than a walkway built from harder stones. The curves of this garden walkway enhance the casual, comfortable appeal of the Vermont slate and the pristine landscape.
In a more formal landscape setting, this slate walkway laid in a straight path on the side of the house complements the formality of the traditional home and landscape.
In this traditional Boston home, the earthy brown and rust colors in the slate walkway enhance the architectural materials of the house, as well as the fall landscaping colors.
Patio and Terraces
The water-resistant, slip-resistant characteristics of slate make it the perfect material for outdoor patio and terrace areas, especially around pools, spas, waterfalls and ponds. This copper-gray Brazilian slate gives the patio area of a traditional home a casual, comfortable appeal for outdoor activities and entertaining. The waterfall and small pond add tranquil ambiance to the setting.
This patio area with slate in brown tones provides a subdued outdoor setting where the beauty of the landscape takes center stage.
Porches and Verandas
When slate is combined with another stone, the look can be quite dramatic. Although slate has an earthy, organic appearance and texture, it can take on a sophisticated look when combined with a more formal stone like granite, marble or limestone. This combination of honed cream limestone and black Brazilian slate creates an elegant outdoor environment.
Outdoor pavilions are sought-after landscaping features for many homeowners. They provide a great way to expand indoor living spaces for outdoor activities, entertainment and relaxation. This beautiful pavilion has slate tile flooring and connects to the main house with a slate walkway in the same material. The color variations of gray, blue and gold slate on the floors, fire pit and columns blend beautifully with the warm wood tones of the pavilion ceiling.
Whether your home is contemporary or traditional, slate provides a beautiful, slip-resistant material for a pool deck. Since slate is non-porous and won’t absorb water, it’s the perfect outdoor flooring material for any areas that are around water. The light tan color variations in the slate around this pool complement the sleek, contemporary style and materials on the house and enhance the natural landscape view beyond the infinity pool.
In a more traditional setting, the light multi-colored Brazilian slate pool deck combined with gray Vermont slate borders creates the perfect complement to this stately brick home.
Whatever the style of your home, a slate walkway can have a big impact on the appeal of your home’s landscape. Slate is a beautiful, affordable material that provides excellent long-term durability and easy maintenance for a variety of outdoor projects.