How to Add Curb Appeal with Landscape Stones, Boulders, and Retaining Walls
Using Landscape Stones
One of the best ways to add curb appeal and individual style to your home is through the use of hardscape elements. They can include stone walls, retaining walls, patios and pathways, landscape boulders, and ponds, and they are an integral part of any landscape plan. Landscape architects often use hardscape elements to complement the plants, trees, flowers and other design elements in the yard. You don't have to be a landscape architect, however, to use landscaping boulders and stones around your yard. These items are sold at most nurseries and big-box garden centers, making them easily accessible and useable by just about anyone.
When and how to use landscape stones depends on the amount of space available, the cost of materials to be used, personal preferences of the homeowner, and which hardscape elements will best complement the overall landscape design.
Landscape stones such as pavers are most often used in building patios and pathways. The stones themselves are available in huge variety of sizes, shapes, colors and materials to match perfectly with the existing structures, landscaping and patios. There are many different ways to use them, from bricks set in a straight pattern to bricks in a fancier herringbone pattern to multiple-sized pavers set in a custom pattern. Flagstone patios and paths, for example, are used to lend a classic atmosphere to a yard, and are often found in conjunction with and incorporated into an English-type garden design. Patios tie the indoors to the outdoors in a seamless, useful fashion to give the homeowner added living space especially when the weather is conducive to outdoor living.
For the intrepid homeowner or one who has a some home repair experience, creating a patio out of landscape stones can be an easy and fun weekend project. There are many designs and instructions available online.
Another common hardscape feature in use today is the landscape boulder. These range in size from small – a couple of feet in diameter – to quite large, often big enough to sit on or plant flowers in the nooks and crannies of the boulder. Many people use a landscape boulder by the driveway with their name or address painted or etched on it. Though this is one use for a boulder, they can also be used as features, focal points or frames in flower beds. Boulders are used in rock beds, among a sea of bromeliads, or in a tropical-style design among palm trees. Small boulders are used as retainer stones around flower beds.
Besides boulders, a variety of pavers found at the garden center can be used as edging for flower beds. Edging separates flower beds or trees from the surrounding lawn and sets these features apart. From rectangular bricks to curved concrete edging and interlocking ones in unusual shapes, the variety is endless to suit any design need. Landscape stones frame flower beds and trees, providing functionality by keeping soil in place and providing beauty with a finished edge around beds.
Pavers and landscape stones are also commonly used in the creation of retaining walls. Though some retaining walls offer an aesthetically-pleasing feature in the landscape design, many of them serve a very important purpose. Retaining walls are traditionally used to support soil on the side of a hill or on a steep lot. They prevent soil from moving downhill. They also provide a lovely backdrop for landscaping and superb focal point at the back of a large paver patio. Retaining walls and edging around flower beds are essentially the same thing but in different sizes, both providing functional use and beauty.
A less common usage for landscape stones, especially in urban and suburban settings, is a stone wall. Many designs incorporate an existing stone wall but building a new stone wall is a wonderful way to add texture and color to a landscape plan. Low stone walls can mark the front of a property, incorporate columns at a driveway or divide parts of a garden. Walls are most commonly found on larger properties or in country settings.
Landscape stones are as integral a part of landscape design as the plants used. They provide functionality and beauty, tying together different parts of the landscape plan as well as bringing together the outdoor and indoor living areas. Choosing the right materials and use for landscape stones marries hardscape with softscape for an overall finished and aesthetically-pleasing design.
Flagstone and Retaining Walls
© 2010 Cristina Vanthul