Stone in landscape design

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Category:  Landscaping Ideas
Description:  Using one of the oldest materials (stone) in landscape design.
Author: Tom Barrett
Sunday, March 26, 2017

It’s the perfect duo -- stone and landscaping. Using stone in landscape design allows us to create many more interesting and useful features. From the indestructible stone bench or colorful walkway to the pleasure of a water fountain or garden sculpture, using stone in the landscape is a “match made in heaven” …or shall we say, Earth.

Selecting stone for garden type

There are many types of gardens: formal, rustic, contemporary, country gardens, etc. Each style lends itself to using a different type of stone.

For example, a formal outdoor kitchen or contemporary garden bench often use stone with a straight-cut and smooth surface. Basalt or granite, cut and glazed, might be used in these landscapes because of their clean appearance. On the other hand, a rustic garden might include slate or jagged flagstone, and we have all seen the typical cobblestone walkway in a country garden. In many cases, stone is not a mere accessory. The type of stone and landscape design are closely connected; so much so that the stone might define the garden.

Using stone in patios and walkways

When designing a garden path, the choices may feel endless. Concrete patios and walkways are common, but they do not allow for water permeability as is the case with stone that has been set in sand. Wood planks require constant upkeep. Grass…well we all know how much work it is to maintain grass. That leaves stone and brick, with their many types of sizes and styles. The benefits of choosing a stone are its durability, easily movable (if set in sand), and requires very little maintenance.

Landscape design ideas for Patios and Walkways

Many homeowners like the look of growing thyme, or other "steppable" ground covers in the crevices between the stone. It hugs the edges of the stone as it grows and offers more stability as well as a desired appearance. Keep in mind, the larger the stone the less weeds. If using gravel, for instance, you many have more weeds and the same is true when using small pavers. Selecting a larger stone slab and planting a ground cover between each slab can help control the growth of weeds and moss. Then again, moss is our “state plant” isn’t it?

Stone for landscaping

Using stone for walls

Is there anything more lovely than a stone wall? One of my favorite types of stone in landscape design, especially for walls, is large river rock. They are smooth, easy to work with, and come in several color variations.

Some gardens beg to have a stone wall to visually separate of areas of the landscape, to create privacy, contain gardens or activities, or add a striking effect. And sometimes a combination of any of these. A small stone wall such as around a pond or garden bed may also serve as a place to sit and watch the fish or enjoy the flowers.

A stone wall may have an even more practical purpose. They are perfect for retaining walls. For those who live on a hillside, we often cut into the hill to give the yard more flat space, then use stone to create a retaining wall against the exposed earth. This helps control erosion. A stone wall of significant mass can hold back a surprising amount of earth. And, in addition to retaining a hill, a stone wall is the perfect place to hide French drains, but that’s a topic for another blog. (Note: It is a good idea to talk to professional when building a retaining wall, and perhaps a soil engineer or hydrologist, to make sure your wall is built correctly and with enough mass.)

Sculptured stone in landscape designs

Stone sculptures are a great way to add interest to a garden. For centuries, statues have been used as artist element, but a simple monolith stone in a landscape design is becoming more and more popular. Both can serve as a center piece and are often used as water fountains. Monoliths are large natural or cut pillars of rock. Some are giant slabs; others are more faceted and are hexagonal, pentagonal or other shapes.

Using sculptured stone in water features is one of the most common uses. Basin rocks are used to collect water in their concave center. These are ideal for waterfalls and areas where water is meant to cascade from one vessel to another.

Using stone for benches

Just when you thought we had exhausted all the uses for stone…there’s still more! Stone is a wonderful choice for a garden bench. They generally do not blow away in the wind, and there is no need to store them away for the winter. Rock can be cut and polished to a smooth surface, if desired, which means it is easier to wipe clean.

Stone is also used for fire pits, outdoor ovens, planters, borders… So many possibilities.

Using stone in landscape design is nothing new, but we hope this blog is a good reminder to stop and think about how stone might be used. Rock and stone of all sizes and shapes have a purpose in landscape design. Sometimes we install stone that is rustic and untouched, and other times we select those which are cut and polished. We use stone for functional purposes and visual appeal.

Environment Construction Inc. would love to talk with you about the various types of stone and available options. Request a consultation. Remember to “think stone” as you dream about your landscape design.

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