Stones are one of our favorite hardscapes to landscape with. Not only can they serve a functional purpose in your landscape design, but they also bring interesting colors and textures that help to balance out your plants and the other, softer elements of your yard. Plus, there are so many different kinds of rocks and stones to choose from, so there’s bound to be something that fits your specific taste and style. Here are some of the things we can do with landscaping stones, and what types of beautiful rock materials you can choose from:
Landscaping with Stones
There are so many creative ways to incorporate stones into your landscape design. They’re one of the most natural hardscaping elements you can work with, making your yard look immaculate, yet in a simple, natural way. Here are a few ideas from our designers:
- Driveways: Rocks can easily turn your muddy, messy driveway into an elegant entrance. There are many different types of paving patterns and designs to choose from, with materials like gravel, crushed rock, concrete pavers, and cobblestone pavers. While the latter may be the more expensive option, it’s unmatched in durability and appearance—great for resale value.
- Walkways: Pathways from your driveway to your front or back door, or to other outdoor living areas are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. While gravel is a common choice, larger stepping stones add an especially charming sense of adventure.
- Specimen Boulders: Larger rock accents can serve as stunning focal points in your garden in the place of shrubs or trees. The best part? Eye-catching boulders can spruce up shady areas where plants refuse to thrive, AND they require no maintenance!
- Rock Gardens: Flower beds don’t have to be solely for flowers! Rocks can also be integrated into garden beds to compliment your softscapes with varying colors and textures.
- Edging: Not only can they be featured inside your flower beds, but they can also be used to edge and outline garden beds, garden ponds and other areas of your landscape, making it look neat and tidy.
- Retaining Walls: If your landscape is riddled with natural slopes, consider installing a retaining wall to prevent soil erosion and add definition to your yard. Retaining walls can be used to build more functional garden planting areas and can even include built-in seating areas for you to sit back, relax and enjoy your garden.
- Rock Mulch: Replace regular mulch with river rock for a more elegant and polished look. These smooth, gently-rounded rocks can draw attention to your favorite plantings and brighten shadier areas of your landscape. Just be careful with some of your more tender plants—while rock mulch shades the soil from the sun, it also weighs a lot more and heats up quicker, which can increase moisture loss.
Different Types of Landscaping Stones
Now that you’ve got a few ideas stirring, the next step is to think about what materials you’d like to work with! Here are some of the most popular kinds of landscaping rocks and what they’re best suited for:
- Decomposed Granite: This granite has been weathered down to small, sand-like particles, making it ideal for creating pathways or foundations for building larger hardscapes on. It can also be used as a sort of mulch or topdressing in the garden. It has a red-tan color that offers a desert-like vibe, and it’s also pretty inexpensive.
- Pea Gravel: This gravel is made of very small, rounded, mixed rocks that are available in a wide range of color mixes, including tan, brown, and white. Although it’s called pea gravel for it’s pea-sized particles, the rocks are actually a mix of three sizes (¼ inch, ½ inch, and ⅝ inch). Pea gravel is another great, inexpensive option for pathways, driveways, and filling areas of your landscape.
- Crushed Granite Gravel: Also derived from granite, this crushed gravel is basically a much larger version of decomposed granite. It comes in a wider range of sizes, so it can be the same size, or much larger than pea gravel. It also has sharper edges, adding more texture to your landscape than pea gravel.
- River Rock: These smooth pebbles add a much softer appearance to your landscape than other, sharper gravel varieties. River rocks are larger than pea gravel, usually measuring about an inch or more in diameter. Both the color and the cost of this material varies, so there are lots to choose from, depending on what kind of project you’re doing.
- Flagstone: These much larger, flat rocks can be used for a variety of landscaping projects. They can be cut to whatever diameter you need, making them one of the most versatile stones available. You can fit their irregular shapes together to create beautiful flagstone steps, pathways, or patios, or stack them to build retaining walls. Choose from limestone; which can be made from corals, shells, and other sedimentary rocks, and has a smooth appearance, or sandstone; which has a grainier texture and comes in a wide range of natural colors.
- Natural Rocks and Boulders: Use rocks of any size and shape to accent or edge your garden beds, adding unique colors and textures to your landscape. Larger boulders can function as a focal point all on their own.
If you’re in the Quad Cities Metro area and you’re eager to add some stones to your landscape, but still aren’t sure what you want to do, we’d be happy to consult with you! Our experienced landscape designers know all the best tricks for installing stone features that emphasize the rest of your garden.