When you think about preparing your yard for landscaping, you’re more likely to imagine digging rocks out and discarding them, rather than adding them back in. While rocky soil may not be ideal for planting your favorite blooms, stone has gotten a bad rap for being a nuisance rather than the true beauty it is.
Natural stone can be designed into your landscape in myriad ways, as pathways, retaining walls, fire pits, or just decorative accents to name a few. Not only does it look great and create a more useable, enjoyable space, but stone comes with some perks, too. Here are some great things about stone that make it a beautiful and beneficial addition to your landscape design.
1. Creates Impact
Everyone expects to see greenery in a garden. You’re likely to have some colorful flowerbeds, perhaps a freshly mowed lawn, maybe a garden statue or some decorative accent that reflects your personality.
But you’re less likely to expect bold and dramatic use of stone. We’re not talking about a paver walkway or a couple of bricks lining your garden, either. We’re talking about boulder-sized impact, the kind you get when you plunk something striking, like a Pennsylvania field stone boulder, smack dab in the middle of your yard.
Large stones can be placed in gardens or flower beds to anchor them, and to add more visual interest and depth to what otherwise might seem a bit bland and forlorn. Or they can be placed solo, a dramatic centerpiece that adds curb appeal and gets the attention of anyone who passes by.
Your landscape designer can source and install stones for you, or if you’re lucky, can work around one that already exists. Imagine turning what you thought was an eyesore or a potential challenge into a thing of beauty!
2. Creates Separation
Every good landscape needs some delineation. Otherwise your flower beds, patio, pond and other elements will be a mashup of *stuff*, lacking any real structure. One of the ways you can achieve this delineation is, of course, with stone.
It’s far more attractive than common (and far less natural!) materials like plastic and metal and it does double duty, both creating the separation you need while simultaneously blending harmoniously into the design.
Weathered stone can be used to give shape to garden beds, to outline property boundaries, to enclose vegetable gardens, even to separate your space from the street beyond. Just remember that natural stone should be combined with natural design for a truly harmonious aesthetic. You probably don’t want yards of stone lined up like toy soldiers in perfect symmetry guarding your lovely wildflowers!
3. Low Maintenance
We’re all busy, and our lifestyles are only getting busier and more hectic by the day. Long gone are days when the average homeowner had a full Saturday to spend pushing a lawn mower and pulling weeds. Nowadays, we want low maintenance, simple maintenance, and let’s face it, even if we did have the time, we wouldn’t want to spend it baking behind a lawn mower!
One of the many wonderful things about stone is that it’s incredibly low maintenance. Check that – it’s essentially *no* maintenance. It never has to be treated, sanded or finished like wood. You’ll never need to prune, trim, fertilize, or mow it like a lawn or shrubs. It doesn’t have to be refreshed or replaced like mulch. It will never wilt in the summer sun or need to be watered. And it looks great all year long, bringing interest and beauty to your landscape through even the dullest of seasons.
Using stone, whether it’s gravel, Fieldstone or river rock, to replace at least some greenery or lawn in your yard is a simple way to make your maintenance job a whole lot easier.
4. Facilitates Drainage & Controls Erosion
If every rain storm turns your yard into a puddle, you need a better drainage solution! Excess water can make pathways slippery, drown plants, attract mosquitos and generally turn your landscape into a mess.
Before you think about digging up your yard, consider how stone can help mitigate the problem. Water drains more quickly through small stones and gravel than it does through soil, so a simple layer of stone in wet spots can help you avoid puddling messes. You can plant in stone beds, too, so don’t worry that you’ll be missing out on greenery.
Or, if planting is a larger problem, you always have the option of adding a container garden on top of stone or gravel. Use varying sizes, shapes and heights of pots to create interest and depth, and say goodbye to your water woes.
If you have a runoff problem, stone can be designed to create a natural waterway to redirect runoff away from your home’s foundation or garden, and toward drier spots, or even into existing water features like a lake or stream.
If you live on a slope or have an area that’s especially prone to soil erosion, stone can be used to protect soil and stabilize the area. It’s especially great for sloping locations because not only does it prevent ugly mudslides, but it will also stabilize and protect plants.
5. Protects Plants
While we’re on the subject of protecting plants, stone does more than just prevent them from sliding off a hill. It’s also a great barrier from heat and cold.
During summer, stone absorbs heat and prevents it from reaching the roots of plants. That means plants in direct sun can get the benefits of sun without the added stress of excess heat. And since stone keeps roots and the soil beneath cooler, water evaporates off more slowly. That means less chance of plants drying out and better growing conditions.
During winter, they make great insulators, keeping the cold away from plant roots.
All that protection ties right back to maintenance – less of it, and easier, too.
6. Creates A Focal Point
Is there anything in your yard that catches your eye right now? And no, we don’t mean the ugly drain pipe or the front door in desperate need of painting. We’re looking for something beautiful, striking, unique.
If you said, “No,” then your landscape could be suffering from a case of the blahs.
A focal point is meant to draw the eye, to add a special point of visual interest that serves as the starting point for appreciating the rest of the space. It can also be used to disguise less desirable aspects of your yard. That drain pipe, for instance.
When it comes to focal points, stone is a great contender. Of course you can go bold and dramatic, with a large boulder set in a flower bed or stone garden. If you do, then go even bolder, and add landscape lighting in the form of a spotlight to highlight it during evening hours. Or try back lighting, and illuminate a tree or wall behind the boulder to create a striking and mysterious silhouette.
If you want something different, try an all-stone garden, with smaller boulders combined with gravel or river rock to add texture and dimension. You might be surprised by the variety of color tones available. Combined with varying sizes and shapes, a stone garden can be even more lovely and striking than one with flowers.
You don’t even have to go big to use stone as a focal point. A flower garden without a stone is just a flower garden. But adding a small boulder, even if it’s less than knee-height, can go a long way to making that garden a true focal point.
By now we hope that you’ve fallen in love with stone and are ready to use it in your landscape. If you want to know more about how natural stone can benefit your space, get in touch with us for a consultation. We’ll visit your home to determine the ways that stone can help you solve your unique landscape challenges, make maintenance easier, and just look spectacular all year long.