Natural stone is prized for its uniqueness, durability and striking appearance, as well as for its use in designing everything from formal to rustic landscapes. Stone adds texture, enhances color, directs the eye as well as traffic, and is versatile enough to become a driveway, walkway, garden path, patio, staircase and even wall.
There are myriad natural stones to choose from, depending on what you want to achieve. These are a few that we love, and ones that can be used to create many effects to suit many styles.
What Type Of Natural Stone Should You Choose?
Before you select a stone, start by deciding where it will be used. Some stones are better suited to different purposes. For example, if you’re designing a patio to surround a pool, you’ll need to consider heat retention as well as its ability to absorb water without cracking or eroding. In addition, there are safety considerations, which means choosing a stone with a non-skid texture for walkways, steps and pool patios.
Stone can be used for many purposes, from directing foot traffic, to defining garden beds, leading people to a focal point such as a pond or fountain, adding texture, creating visual interest through hardscaping, and even improving space usage.
Once you know what you want to achieve, it’s important to understand any challenges, limitations or other considerations that will affect your choice. For example, is it a high-traffic walkway or a private back yard pathway? Does it need to withstand vehicular traffic, rolling garbage cans or garden equipment? What’s your maintenance threshold in terms of having the time, money or patience to manage upkeep?
Careful consideration and a good master plan will help you answer these and other questions you may not even have thought of. Once you know your direction, you can choose the best stone for the job.
Brick is a highly durable natural stone that produces a classic, timeless look. It can withstand high loads, making it an excellent choice for walkways, sidewalks, patios and driveways.
Brick maintains its color over time and won’t fade under the sun, wind or harsh weather conditions. Brick also has the advantage of being able to shift slightly without cracking, which means it is long lasting and requires little maintenance. When bricks do become damaged, they are easily replaced, making them a cost effective option for the long term.
Another plus in the maintenance column is that brick is easy to clean with a simple garden hose. They dry quickly, but do be careful in shady areas – if left damp, brick can become mossy and slick, so take this into consideration when choosing the right stone for your landscape.
In terms of design, brick can be cut into just about any shape and size, making it incredibly versatile and easily customizable.
From a running bond pattern to basket-weave, herringbone, and stacked bond patterns, brick allows for a wide variety of design options.
These perennial favorites make it to the top of the list for good reason. They’re versatile enough to go from naturalistic to formal, are typically one of the more affordable natural stones and are long lasting even in high traffic areas.
They require little maintenance and are both weather- and slip-resistant, which makes them an ideal choice for front walkways and pool patios. Damaged pavers are easily replaced and have the added bonus of being reusable and recyclable.
Pavers are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures, from the more common square and rectangular shapes, to curved and even rustically charming irregular shapes. Tumbled or smooth, weathered or embossed, sand-textured or cobbled, pavers can suit many tastes and personalities.
Pavers can be placed in running, laying, circular or herringbone patterns, and beg one to engage the imagination when it comes to insets, borders and accents. In all, pavers are a creative choice for patio and walkway design.
Another natural stone with a classic appearance is Bluestone. The name can be a bit of a misnomer, however, because Bluestone is not always blue, but also available in a variety of colors, from brown to rust and green tones. This variety can give a walkway a uniquely charmingly appearance that is both elegant and eclectic.
Bluestone is naturally porous and able to hold a large amount of water, so be sure to seal it periodically to maintain its natural colors and beauty. Otherwise it is extremely tough and resistant to freeze-thaw cycles, making it a great choice for pool patios, stairs and walkways right here in New Jersey.
Bluestone comes in a number of shapes and sizes, from rectangular and square to oblong, triangular and even diamond shaped. Since it is obtained from a quarry and produced in block form, you can have Bluestone cut to just about any shape or size. Irregular “broken” Bluestone is a favorite among many homeowners who want to achieve a truly naturalistic effect.
A favorite for pool patios, Limestone has the advantage of light colors that deflect heat to stay cool against bare feet. It is a highly durable and long lasting stone with many textural options, but with one sensitivity: it does not like acidic materials. That means you should avoid using any chemical cleaners that can erode it, and for best preserving its beauty, avoid using it near or beneath berry and fruit trees. When the fruits fall, they can easily stain the Limestone.
Like Bluestone, Limestone is porous and should be sealed to maintain its color and texture. It’s available in smooth, tumbled or sandblasted finishes. The most common shapes are square and rectangular, laid in basket weave, herringbone, and running bond patterns, but Limestone can also be cut irregularly to create meandering and naturalistic garden paths.
Popular for patios, steps and walkways, Pennsylvania Fieldstone is ideal for creating natural and rustic landscapes. From pinkish-browns to grays, blues and lilac hues, this stone contrasts beautifully with mulch and surrounding vegetation.
It is available in an array of sizes, shapes and colors. Its flat varieties are perfect for patios and stairs, while larger boulders serve as charming garden stepping stones and accent pieces. Their unique shapes make them visually appealing, allowing for a completely original landscape design.
Fieldstone is richly textured, water- and weather-resistant and incredibly strong and durable. It’s no wonder this stone is treasured by so many homeowners.
From simple, classic styles to totally custom, unique looks, natural stone is an ally of the creative mind. It is strong, durable and will enhance the value and beauty of your home for many years to come.
So whether you want to create a casual, rustic effect or a streamlined, elegant one, whatever the color, texture or pattern, natural stone can help you achieve your landscaping vision. If you’d like to talk about designing a walkway, garden path, patio, wall or steps to suit your outdoor personality, let us know. We’re available for consultations and master planning to help create the outdoor space of your dreams.