Stone has long been used as a building material due to its durability and wide availability. Another application for stone is in landscape design. Using it as part of a landscaping project allows you to take advantage of stone’s durability and the natural beauty contained in a stone structure. There are a number of ways to use stone in a landscaping project.
Stone has long been used in patio construction. The durability of stone allows patios constructed of it to last for decades. In previous times, stone masons would cut stones for patio construction, and these stones would often be mortared together. Now, stones are often cut into specific shapes by machines instead of by hand for patio construction. Another option often used is casting concrete into blocks that resemble stone. These paver stones are then assembled to complete the patio, often in intricate, eye-catching designs.
Walls and Borders
One of the most common uses of stones in landscaping construction has been in walls. From huge projects like the Great Wall of China or Hadrian’s Wall to smaller walls used to divide property, many walls have stood for hundreds of years. While most homeowners no longer use stone walls to mark their property lines, they are still used in other landscape projects. Stone is often used in retaining walls constructed along a hill to prevent soil in the hill from eroding, which can lead to landslides or destroy structures placed on top of the hill. Stone can also be used as a border around a garden or flower bed or as the wall in a raised garden bed.
Stone can also be used when constructing walkways. This can be as simple as digging holes in the ground large enough to contain large, flat stones to be used as stepping stones or can involve building a more advanced walkway consisting of large, flat stepping stones set inside a trench that has been excavated and filled with gravel or other small stones. You can also use stone to construct natural-looking steps by digging into a hillside and placing large, flat stones at different heights to create the staircase.
Fire Pits and Waterfalls
Fire pits are another way to use stone in a landscaping project. The durability of stone shows again in its resistance to heat. When constructing a fire pit, you can use stones that have been cut or precast specifically for this use or build a fire pit of natural fieldstone held together by mortar. If fire isn’t your thing, you could use stone to construct a small waterfall in your yard. You can make this part of a small pond, such as a fish pond, but some people go as far as to build small streams in their yards with waterfalls built into the stream.
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Landscaping Stone Colors
If you want the change the look of your home’s exterior, incorporating stones into your landscape design scheme provides a natural yet sophisticated element. The colors of the stones can complement other landscape decor items, or bring attention to other elements of nature.
The smaller the stones, the brighter they can be in color. For instance, if you’re using stones to adorn the area around the driveway or front door, and the outside of your home is red brick or brown wood, burnt orange stones are complementary. If you want to include larger stones around your fountain or pond, painting them a tan or greenish color will give a look of calm and relaxation.
If the stones are a decorative addition to your garden, colors that match or contrast with the flowers are visually appealing. For example, in a garden with mostly red flowers, stones surrounding the blooms in coral or dusty pink shades makes the area pleasing to the eye.
If you want the stone decorations in your garden to have special family significance, you can create a fountain near your pond of ‘rainbow’ rocks. Let each family paint a large stone in their favorite color, then purchase a pump to place over the rocks to create a waterfall using the pond water. Or, use brightly colored rocks in front of your home to spell out your family’s last name, or display your initial.
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How to Landscape With Crushed Stone
Lay out an outline of your pathway loosely with two hoses or two long ropes. Use an edger or sod cutter to cut the sod inside the path outline, into strips 2 feet long and 1 foot wide. Loosen each sod strip by sliding the shovel underneath it and lifting it. Roll the grass into sections to use in other parts of your garden.
Dig the path 5 inches deep for the crushed stone. Dig grooves on each side of the pathway 6 inches deep for the bricks that will be edging the pathway. Lay the bricks sideways, into the 6-inch-deep grooves. Try for a loose fit and you won’t have to cut your bricks. Use your level to make sure the bricks are aligned.
Place the crushed stone into your wheelbarrow and use your shovel to help lay it into the pathway. Level the crushed stone with the back of a rack, to about 1 inch below the top of the bricks edging the pathway.
Tamp down the crushed stone with your power plate compactor or tamping tool. Continue tamping down the crushed stone until it is 1 1/2 inches below the tops of the bricks. As your family continues to walk on the pathway it will compact 1 inch more.
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