What are the Different Options for Landscaping with Stone?

Susan Grindstaff

There are many options for landscaping with stone, including creating pathways, walls, and decorative items. The type of stone chosen would generally have a significant impact on how it is used. Paving stones can be purchased pre-cut and pre-finished, and are ideal for creating a pathway or patio. With a bit of imagination, even large or irregularly shaped stones can make beautiful additions to landscaped areas.

Zen gardens are mostly made or rock, with only a scattering of water or plant life.
Zen gardens are mostly made or rock, with only a scattering of water or plant life.

Landscaping with stone probably goes back to ancient times. Civilizations from all over the world have used everything from pebbles to boulders to create beautiful and tranquil outdoor settings. In the eastern part of the world, such as Japan, entire gardens are often made of rock, with only a scattering of water or plant life. Emphasis is placed on arranging the stones so that the color and size are complementary. These gardens are sometimes called Zen gardens.

Stone walls often surround gardens and patios.
Stone walls often surround gardens and patios.

Stone can be used to create borders around plant groupings, or stacked up to create raised flowerbeds. As a border, they can also be used on the edges of paths or walkways. Tiny stones are sometimes used to cover the dirt directly surrounding plants. This is not only attractive but generally discourages the growth of weeds. In marshy areas, these small pebbles can also help promote soil drainage, which improves plant health.

Another idea for landscaping with stone is using them in fencing and walls. In Europe, beautiful stone walls often surround gardens and patios. Not only is it decorative, but stone is also generally more durable than common wood fencing.

Stone can be used to build useful and decorative items inside the garden. Birdbaths, benches, and waterfalls made of stone are sometimes used for accent and practicality. A stone bench will generally withstand outdoor elements much better than wood. In addition, garden arches made of stone are also more durable than ones made of lattice.

Very large rocks such as boulders make interesting additions on their own. In a sparse or new garden, where growth is minimal, a large boulder can make the garden look more “polished” and complete. Depending on their shape, they may also be used as tables or sitting stones.

Landscaping with stone offers virtually unlimited options. Almost anything made of wood could probably be made with stone. Many landscaping artists prefer to use stone because it adds a unique texture and is a nice contrast to the profusion of color often found in gardens. Costs involved with landscaping with stone may vary, depending on your region.

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