Landscaping with Rock & Stones

Written by Jane at Designer Dirt Landscape Supplies
 
Rocks and stones can be used in many ways when landscaping, from large stand alone features to more practical purposes, such as drainage and inorganic mulch.
WHERE TO START
Thinking about your existing home and garden is a good place to start. How does the current situation limit your options?  Are there already a lot of different colours, textures and patterns in the building, garden and surrounds?  What about the existing environment?  Do you already have stones in your yard?   What colours and textures work?  If the garden already has a wide variety, would it be better to use stones, as a common thread, to draw everything together?  It is usually best to keep things simple and use the same type of stone throughout the area.  Variations can be made, if needed, by using different stones from a complimentary range, such as Cobbles, Riverstones, glacial chip and stone fines.  It is a good idea to think about how you want the area to look in a few years time.
PHYSICAL CHANGES
Stones are very useful for making physical changes to external areas, including the garden.  Using large individual stones or building stone walls can provide instant height and help to make a garden look more established.  Stones can also provide a physical answer to a problem, like terracing a block or helping to hide or soften a change in level.  A stacked stone wall can provide the structure needed, as well as create an excellent area for a new, well drained garden bed.  A wall like this is fantastic for trailing flowers and vines.
A pathway made of stone, with a free flowing design, can fit beautifully in a garden, but careful preparation is needed to ensure the path is safe and secure.
DRAINAGE
pavers with pebblesSmaller stones and pebbles can be used where drainage is required.  Excellent for problem run off areas, they can also be used around pavers, stairs and raised garden beds.  The variety of size and colour available is endless.
INDIVIDUAL FEATURES
Large feature stones can act as a permanent base for a garden, providing an enduring starting point.  Stone can have a strong influence over your space all year round, so picturing what you want the area to look like in a couple of years time is very important.  Stones can be used in this situation as either a strong contrast or to create a feature that is at one with nature.
MULCH
There are a number of inorganic mulch options, such as river stone and a variety of gravel and limestone.  Again the choice of colour is wide ranging.  The most important thing to consider here is whether the choice of mulch is right for the existing garden, for example limestone is great around succulents, but due to it’s alkalinity would not suit azaleas or camellias.  Think about your existing area and what will work with it.  For example, river gravel works well with some of the exposed aggregates available now.
LIGHTING
The different surfaces of rocks can create very different results.  Smooth river stones can give a warm glow while the variations in granite and limestone can produce very interesting shadows.  You can use large individual stones to reflect light or try heaps of smaller stones with a small spotlight underneath for a more subtle glow.
two rocks.
MINIMALIST GARDENS
Rocks and stones make great features in minimalist gardens and can be a stunning focal point.  Most are long lasting and will often age beautifully over time.
SMALL GARDENS
If you want to use stones, but have a small garden, there are still many options available.  Try using them in containers and garden beds or when building stone walls.  Planters containing stones and succulents are always stunning and are very low maintenance.  Flag stones can be used for pathways, but good preparation is important.
WATER FEATURES
Stones are great for water features, creating a natural back drop and increasing the effect of the water.  Different stones will work in different situations.  Large, craggy rocks can work well in waterfalls, particularly in native gardens, while smaller, smoother stones are perfect for recreating river beds and creeks.  The colour of many stones will strengthen when wet.
Weathered stone, with crevices and irregular edges, is better than smooth surfaces if you want to encourage the growth of moss and lichen.  Placing these stones in a damp situation, such as a water feature or fern garden, will also help encourage moss growth.
BUTTERFLIES                                              
Monarch butterfly angledMonarch butterflies can be seen in Albany over the summer months.  Encouraging them to your yard can really add to the enjoyment you get from your garden.  Stones soak up the sun’s warmth and make great basking spots for butterflies.  Place flat stones in areas that are protected without a lot of overhanging branches, preferably with nectar and caterpillar food plants, like buddleia and happy wanderer.  Butterflies prefer shallow, muddy water.
LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION ...
- Gabion Baskets – mesh baskets filled with stones, for a more industrial look.  These can be used as dividers, walls,  benches, bars ... the options are endless.
snails made of steel and stone. great shadows- Water features – the options are endless ...  Fountains, bubblers, waterfalls and river beds are popular.
- Inorganic mulch in garden beds and pots.
- Lighting features – Rocks are great for reflecting light and creating shadows.
- Stacked stone walls.
- Garden bed borders.- Stone furniture – benches, fire pits …
- Pebble pavers and mosaics – don’t limit yourself to the ground.  Pebbled walls are fantastic for vertical water features.
- Looking for a smaller project? Paper weights, pet rocks!!
Rocks and stones provide an endless list of options when you are creating your garden.  They can be a very practical and beautiful addition to any landscape.
 
Written by Jane at Designer Dirt Landscape Supplies
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