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How to Use Stone in the Garden

By Tim Birch

Integrating stone into your landscape design can add depth, texture, seating and even a sculptural element to your garden. Stone has other important functional qualities as well, such as, strength and stability. Stones give a sense of permanence to a garden. As a landscape design element, stones are unlike plants in that they possess wonderful sculptural characteristics. When designing your landscape, consider the use of stone for walls, paths or just as aesthetically pleasing accents within the garden.

Stones are the most sturdy of all garden materials. They're ideal for creating paths, terraces, accents and garden walls. They're also useful in the water garden where they can edge a pool or be incorporated into a waterfall design.

Stones found locally in the native landscape will generally work best in your garden. Large stones, which are great for creating focal points in the landscape, should be set in the ground so they're perceived as though they're part of the natural landscape. Simply dig a hole about the width of the stone, set the stone and backfill around its base. This will make them seem as if they belong in the garden as they blend in with the surrounding landscape.

Large boulders placed along paths or adjacent to patios are wonderful way too add provide seating in the garden. Stones used in such a way should be set in the ground to ensure stability. Though everyone is different, as a rule of thumb, a comfortable height at which to sit is 18 inches.

Stones in the garden become more prominent during the winter. After the leaves have fallen from the garden plants, ivy covered stone walls become a focal point and provide a garden with structure.

There are many kinds of stones to choose from. The following is a small list and their descriptions.

Large boulders can be used for marking a driveway or for the entryway to a garden. They can also be used as a focal point in the rock garden or water garden. Stone with interesting color, textures or shape are great for specimen stones.

Fieldstone is ideal for garden walls and stepping stones and garden paths. Fieldstone is effective when used as stepping stones through a perennials garden.

Stone Landscaping in the GardenBluestone is wonderful for formal patios and paths. Bluestone is cut to various size squares and rectangles which can be arranged in any combination. The color and texture can vary from stone to stone.

Cobblestones are perfect for edging gardens or for small, informal patios and paths. They're not, however, suitable for large patios since cobbles have an uneven surface and setting a table level is difficult.

Flagstone is suitable for walks and patios Its irregularly shaped, thin, smooth and available in various colors and sizes.

Look around for stones in the landscape to see which type will work best in your garden. If you can't find one which suits your needs, most garden centers and nurseries sell garden stone. Stone is extremely durable and when incorporated in your garden design stones will provide your garden with a lifetime of year-round interest.

R Birch is the publisher of GardenScope.com a garden resource site.

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