You say that your landscaping is complete? Then show me your stones. That's right, landscaping stones. The artful application of hardscape could enhance the natural elements that you've already employed -- namely, your plants, or softscape. And the aesthetic and functional use of stone can even raise the value of your property.
You tend to your trees and lawn, and you lavish your vegetable plants with attention. Why, your posies even get to rest their pretty little heads on something we dub "flower beds." With all this attention to the animate denizens of the landscape, don't forget their inanimate counterparts, which include soil and stone. For the latter are the canvas and frame, respectively, for the art of landscaping.
Without proper soil, of course, plants will not grow well; no amount of artistry will make up for a flawed canvas. And without the skillful arrangement of stone and other hardscape components, the most artistic of landscapes would lack a frame to set it off tastefully. To address soil concerns, view my Garden Soil Information piece. But the subject of the present article is framing your landscape with hardscape.
For many, a boulder at a driveway entrance, with their name/address painted on it or chiseled into it, will suffice. But the possibilities are limited only by the time you wish to spend on your hardscape -- or by the money you are willing to pay professionals to do it for you.
For some hardscape projects, you will need to combine your landscaping stone with mortar -- or perhaps use concrete, brick, or tile, instead of stone. These and other variations must be considered when taking on one of the most popular hardscape projects -- building a patio. For step-by-step instructions to build a concrete patio, please consult How To Build a Concrete Patio.
Whether composed of concrete, stone, or some other hardscape material, patios are a wonderful way to tie the indoors the outdoors, thereby uniting house and landscape effectively and creating outdoor living spaces. In regions plagued by drought, or for homeowners who want a low-maintenance landscape, an interesting alternative to lawns is the extended patio, which is simply an enlarged patio that takes up space where lawn grass would otherwise be planted.
The use of stone includes, but is not limited to:
- Stone fountains
- Patio floors/walls
- Paths, including garden stepping stone walkways
- Walls for a cold frame
- Columns to support car ports
- Pergola columns
- Foundations for gazebos and other outbuildings (obtain a building permit)
- Stone outbuildings in lieu of wooden outdoor storage sheds
- Foundations for porches and decks
- Accent pieces for water gardens and, of course, rock gardens
- Stone walls...
But the subject of stone walls in itself has a wide-ranging scope. Continue on to Page 2 to explore some of the many possibilities stone walls offer....