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Frequently Used Terms in the Hardscape and Landscape Industry

Whether you’re undertaking a DIY outdoor project or working with a professional contractor to build the outdoor space of your dreams, you might hear terms that make you ask, “What does that mean?” Well, think of this as your hardscaping glossary!


An aggregate is a whole that is formed with a number of different elements. In construction, an aggregate mixture typically consists of sand, gravel and/or pea gravel that is added to cement to create concrete. The consistency, look and feel of the final product varies depending on the aggregate formula. For example, a coarse aggregate will be made largely of gravel, and a fine aggregate will consist of finely crushed stone and sand.

ASTM Standards

Formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM is an international standards organization that develops and publishes standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems and services. ASTM standards are used all over the world in the development of consumer products such as concrete pavers to improve product quality, strength and reliability.

Base Material

Arguably one of the most important terms in the hardscaping industry, base material is what lies beneath the pavers. It consists of a gravel base, and a bedding layer of sand or tiny stone chips. The right base material and the correct amount of base is crucial for your project’s longevity and success.


A border refers to the accent pavers that are installed at the outer edge of your installation. Many people choose to use an accent color, shape or texture to give their driveway or patio project more character.


A term that is unique to Unilock, ColorFusion refers to the technology that randomly disperses particles of color and granite to achieve a mottled surface resembling natural granite. You can see the results in our popular Umbriano paver.


DriveGrid is an engineered geo-grid platform that is placed below your gravel base to help strengthen your driveway installation. It is also used as a separator between base and subsoil for patio areas. Watch how DriveGrid works.


EasyClean is a proprietary technology that protects pavers from staining, making it an important consideration for outdoor dining areas, high traffic walkways and driveways. EasyClean is added to the paver product during manufacturing to deliver enhanced surface color and protection from stains.

Edge Restraint

Edge restraint is a system installed at the outer edge of the project perimeter to keep your pavers in place. For paver patios and walkways, an edge restraint is secured with long metal spikes to keep pavers from drifting out. For walls, glue may be used as an edge restraint to secure rows of blocks. For larger retaining walls, a geogrid may be used every few layers to secure the wall into the soil being retained.


A whitish haze that appears on the surface of pavers, efflorescence is caused by naturally occurring salts in both the base materials and/or aggregates used to manufacture the stone. Efflorescence can be unsightly, but it does go away with time.


A term that is unique to Unilock, Enduracolor is a two-step manufacturing process known as FaceMix that combines coarser aggregates on the bottom to give the paver structural strength, and a surface layer of finer aggregates on the top to provide an exceptional durable finish that protects the surface from developing a faded look over time.


This two-step manufacturing process combines coarser aggregates on the bottom to give the paver structural strength, and a surface layer of finer aggregates on the top to provide an exceptional durable finish that protects the surface from developing a faded look over time.

Garden Walls

Garden walls are considered “non-structural walls” meaning they don’t serve a structural purpose such as holding up an embankment. Garden walls are generally under two feet high and used for aesthetic purposes to help define an outdoor area such as a patio or a garden.


A geo-grid is geosynthetic material placed below a gravel base and used to reinforce soils and similar materials. Geo-grids are also commonly used to reinforce retaining walls and as sub-bases for patio areas and pool decks.


In the world of hardscaping and landscaping, grading means to level the land. Proper grading is important because it can correct existing problems such as drainage issues from a slope that leads rainwater to your home’s foundation. Proper grading of the ground will also impact aesthetics and help to strengthen the base for your deck, patio or retaining walls.


Hardscape refers to non-living materials or elements such as driveways, retaining walls, pavers and water features that complement the landscaping (which, in contrast, is sometimes referred to as softscaping).


An inlay is a paver design or pattern that is inlaid into a larger paver area such as a patio or entrance way.

Jointing Material

Jointing material is a sand product that is placed between pavers to help lock the stones together and keep them from shifting. A joint filler such as polymeric sand, which is activated by water and hardens when dry, also helps to reduce weed growth in between the pavers.

Open-Graded Base

An open-graded base is a system beneath a paver driveway that allows water to permeate through it and return to the ground rather than stressing storm sewers. An open-graded base also helps to prevent heaving in freeze/thaw conditions.

Outdoor Idea Center

A Unilock Outdoor Idea Center is a place where you can discover a wide range of Unilock products, compare colors and textures and imagine the possibilities for your project.


A paver is a concrete paving stone, tile, brick or brick-like piece of concrete used in outdoor paving projects. Concrete pavers are made of an aggregate mixture of sand, gravel and/or pea gravel and cement plus color pigment.


A permeable product allows liquid to flow through it. In the case of permeable pavers, thepavers are made with wider joints and have a permeable base to encourage water to flow through and back into the ground – rather than into stressed sewer systems.

Polymeric Sand

Polymeric sand is a blend of sand and polymer that is used to fill the joints between concrete pavers. After adding it to the paver joints, the polymer is activated with water to harden the sand.Polymeric jointing sand helps to reduce weed growth, resists rain washout, and helps prevent insect penetration.


Reala technology makes pavers that are natural-looking to avoid the appearance of repeating patterns. Reala uses casts made from natural flagstone, cobblestones and clay brick to ensure a variety of realistic surface textures so the finished product—a patio, pool deck, driveway, or walkway—will look completely authentic.

Retaining Walls

A retaining wall is a structure that retains mass behind it. Retaining walls are used when extra support is needed to prevent the earth from moving through erosion. Many types of materials (including concrete pavers, wood or rocks) and a variety of building techniques are used to create retaining walls.

Seat Wall

Low seat walls are under two feet tall, and can be used to provide additional seating around a fire pit, water feature, small-space patio, flower bed or a raised garden bed to make tending the garden easier and more comfortable. You can build your own seat wall with a versatile system like the U-Cara Multi-Face Wall System.


Thru-Mix is the oldest production methodology for pavers. Thru-Mix is a combination of stone chips, sand, pigment and cement mixed together. The pavers are pressed from this concrete mix.


Ultima technology makes pavers that are four times stronger than conventional poured concrete. Unilock pavers made with Ultima technology include Copthorne, Courtstone, Richcliff and Town Hall.

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A Unilock Authorized Contractor is part of an elite group whose workmanship and business practices have met our exacting standards. You can trust them to do the job right and enjoy peace-of-mind knowing that we stand behind their work. Find a contractor.


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Explore endless design possibilities through our Design Idea Catalog. Browse our extensive portfolio of paver and wall products, and get inspired by our outstanding design projects that will fuel your creative expression.


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