What is Landscape Masonry?

Ken Black

Landscape masonry is any hard stone or concrete product meant to enhance the enjoyment of a landscaped scene, or to blend in with the scene. Many different types of materials may be used in landscape masonry including stonework, pavers, bricks, and concrete. In order to truly be considered good landscape masonry, there must be some attempt to have the work match or add distinction to the surrounding landscape. This could make designing and building the project a very difficult process.

Some retaining walls even leave room for the addition of plant life, creating a more attractive landscape feature.
Some retaining walls even leave room for the addition of plant life, creating a more attractive landscape feature.

The design and effects of landscape masonry follow one of two basic philosophies -- either blending in with the landscape, or making a distinction to the landscape. In both cases, the most visually appealing projects will still look as if they naturally belong in the overall picture. Often, to ensure this, even pavers and concrete may be textured, or laid in a free form way that makes it look less planned.

Stonework is often the first thing thought of when considering landscape masonry. Popular stone types include different variations of flagstone, Pennsylvania blue stone, and limestone, but many other stones are also used. Each is popular for different reasons. Flagstone is known for its ability to score and cut, limestone for its cost, and Pennsylvania blue stone for its distinctive look.

Popular landscape masonry applications for stonework include retaining walls, patios, and walkways. Walls often make the most expensive projects, just because of the amount of materials needed. The cost is often a limiting factor in both the length and height of the wall, although material choice may also come into play, depending upon how much weight the wall must support. Also a wall is often the most time consuming to build, even though more site preparation is likely needed for patio floors and walkways.

Masonry work for patio floors and walkways begins with the site preparation work. Initially, the area will need to be graded to a level, or mostly level, surface. This is especially important for patio floors. Sand will then need to be put down as a base before the stone laying can begin. The stones will also need to be cut in order to fit in certain areas, which can add time to the project.

Often those who are looking at doing a landscape masonry project may hire a private contractor. As home improvement and landscaping projects go, masonry work can be particularly heavy and demanding. In addition to the weight of the stone itself, workers must also deal with scoring, cutting, and piecing together. This type of finite work may better be left to those with experience handling such materials.

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