Setts – Traditional Paving With A Modern Application

The humble sett is one of the most versatile sizes of settsstone used by landscapers and garden designers in numerous ways. The definition of a 'sett' is a ‘broadly rectangular quarried stone used for paving roads’. Nowadays, setts are mainly used for decorative purposes.

In this blog post we look at ways in which setts can be incorporated into a landscaping design - as an edging, as decorative detail, for paths and for a standalone feature.

Small spaces require small paving

Scale and proportion are two important principles in any field of design. The scale and proportion of an object should relate to its position within a space. In a small space the use of small scale paving will be in proportion to the area whereas large units will make the space look smaller. Equally the use of small sizes on a large terrace may make the area look busy. For example, large paving in a single size laid in a simple brick pattern will stunning on a large patio showing the natural beauty of the surface to best effect. In contract setts laid in a small courtyard make for an intimate space.


Setts provide pattern and detail in design

The transition between a paved area and a lawn or gravel drive, for instance, is defined when the design includes a single or double row of setts. The change in size and texture of paving forms an interesting border. Planning the finished level of the setts for retaining shingle or gravel will be crucial to the practical success of the project. Too high and the setts make a lip rather than a retaining edge; too low and the loose stones spill over into the surrounding areas.

Lawn mowing can be made more efficient if setts are laid just below the lowest level of grass cutting as this negates the need for trimming the grass with edging sheers. The lawn mower glides over the blades of grass and the setts leave a neat edge. The lighter colour of the setts provides a contrast to the green grass. Strong geometric lawn shapes - circles, squares and rectangles - are enhanced by the use of edging.

Setts used for detail

On a large paving project, setts may be used to break up the area by using the small unit to divide sections of large paving slabs with strips. These bands of setts may be laid in line with the larger paving stones to form a grid or at 45 deg which whilst looking stunning requires numerous cuts to the rectangular slabs and wastage.

In an informal or organic garden design, there are frequently curves and the use of paths to divide the flower beds from the lawn. Setts can be staggered effectively when laid and the pointing gaps angled such that the path curves to match the design. The tighter the curve the greater the need for laying out the setts in advance so that the pointing gaps are within acceptable limits.

At the junction of two perpendicular paths, a circular feature of granite setts is visually appealing. The circle may fit within the area where the two paths cross or extend beyond to make a statement. The circle could then be the perfect position for a water feature or plinth for a statue or sculpture. Sett circles may also be used as standalone features within lawns or gravel areas. Once again they can be used for showing off pieces of art or fountains and pools, or even as an additional seating area.

London Stone supplies a range of setts in granite, sandstone, limestone and Yorkstone in a range of colours. They come in two sizes – 100 x 100mm and 100 x 200mm. Our range of granite setts are frequently used for drives in period properties as they are both hard wearing and low maintenance. Although traditionally used in complementary colours, there is no reason why a contrasting tone might suit certain projects - the choice will depend on the design.

Despite being a traditional product, the sett can be used to turn a good landscaping design into a great one.

Published 19th May 2014
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