Friday, May 9, 2014

Structural Elements in the Landscape: Natural Stone

In the past several years garden planning has turned to even more of an emphasis on outdoor living space, extending the indoor living space outwards in order to serve a specific function.  Throughout history, natural stone has been used around the world for building due to its beauty and durability.  As a designer I have used a combination of natural and man-made materials in creating outdoor spaces and nothing leads to a more natural setting than (well you guessed it) natural stone itself.  Natural stone is elegant, low-maintenance and timeless.  It is known for its selection of various colors, structures and textures that vary slightly in each piece so that no two stones are ever exactly alike.  Natural stone ages well and retains a natural patina which only adds to the beauty nature gave it. 
Pennsylvania Moss Rock Wall
One of my favorite natural stones to use is Pennsylvania Moss Rock.  Pennsylvania Moss Rock is easily accessible in the northeast and adds interest to a variety of landscapes ranging from back garden beds to front foundation plantings, woodland gardens, cottage gardens, perennial borders and more.  The stone adds natural beauty to the landscape and may be purchased with or without the moss growing right on it.  The moss is easy to maintain with regular watering and adds that extra touch.  Moss Rock is available in a large range of sizes depending on your landscaping needs.
Pennsylvania Bluestone Border
A popular stone used for raised walls is Pennsylvania Irregular Bluestone.  It's color ranges from mainly blue to grey with occasional tinges of browns and greens.  It comes in one to three inch slabs which can be neatly stacked to form a decorative stone border as shown in the above photograph...
Pennsylvania Bluestone Wall
or as a stacked retaining wall adding dimension to a foundation planting as seen here. The wall is serving several functions, including improving grade of the property, separating the garden bed from the lawn area and adding a decorative touch to the landscape. 
Irregular Bluestone Patio
Another use of Irregular Bluestone is for the creation of an informal outdoor patio as in the two photographs shown.  This natural look fits well into a woodland or cottage garden setting and the homeowner will be able to enjoy lounging around a fire pit...
Pennsylvania Bluestone Patio
entertaining guests or perhaps enjoy some quiet time reading a book.

NY Bluestone Patio
This New York bluestone patio is constructed on a concrete base with mortared joints for a more formal look along with the beauty of natural stone. The shades of this stone range from a blue base color to a mix of brown, green, grey, and purple accents along with a natural cleft surface. Informal gardens surround this space with a mixture of evergreens and perennials.
Crab Orchard Stone Patio 
This patio is constructed of Crab Orchard Stone, a beautiful natural sandstone which comes from the quarries in Tennessee.  Even though a sandstone, Crab Orchard is exceptionally hard and weather resistant due to its high silica content. The stone's natural colors range from buff to tan, pink, yellow and golden-brown.  The yellow and brown swirls that give the stone its unique appearance are formed from iron stains and natural weathering.

Irregular Bluestone Backyard Path
For an informal backyard path huge slabs of irregular bluestone can be placed into a surrounding lawn as seen here with this path leading from the back gate to the deck and pool patio area or to perhaps leading to a secret backyard garden (below).
Irregular Bluestone Garden Path
 For a more formal look bluestone treads can be used.  This labyrinth design features a combination of both manufactured pavers and natural stone.
 Natural Bluestone  2' x 2' Treads and Bluestone Gravel

 The use of hardscape has increasingly become a more functional aspect of landscape design and is used in a variety of ways from basic walkways, driveways and patios to garden paths, fire-pit areas, retaining walls and garden borders.  Going even further it is used in the construction of veneers, lampposts, benches, outdoor bars, fireplaces, kitchens and outdoor decorations.  Modern technology has allowed manufactures to replicate the natural look of stone in a multitude of beautiful paving materials.  Depending on your taste and budget you may choose to go with either natural or manufactured materials or a combination of each. Either way the timeless elegance of natural looking stone is here to stay.

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved


  1. Oh my gosh! All of this is absolutely gorgeous. I especially LOVE the Pennsylvania moss rock wall! Maybe even I could manage to construct that one! ;-)

    1. The natural stone is so beautiful and I have the moss rock bordering some of my own gardens. I love how it gives the landscape a lovely three dimensional look and the living moss on the rock is an added plus. It is also the easiest to construct...only some of the boulders can weigh up to hundreds of pounds each...good for a workout!

  2. Everything here is so beautiful, Lee!
    I especially like the second one. Really special.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you so much Lisa! I really do enjoy designing using the natural elements. I believe they add character to the garden. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment and enjoy the weekend!

  3. WOW! All such extraordinary examples of how stone can really highlight the garden! You are so very talented at what you do! Bravo! Nicole

    1. Thank you Nicole for your kind words. You made my day! Enjoy the weekend.

  4. Those are some really elegant designs right there. Those are some great landscaping techniques that would be very helpful for people who are looking into designing their gardens by themselves. I particularly love the garden paths. I think those would work for any type of garden. :D

    Richard Zimmer @ Tapestry New Jersey

    1. Thanks so much for visiting and for your comments Richard. I am glad you find the information in this post to be useful. I believe garden paths lend themselves to be very inviting.


Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!


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