The joy of creating landscape interest with a non-plant but natural material
Stone is a fantastic material to use in your landscape, as it gives such a sense of permanence, elegance and durability. One advantage I've found of living in the Northeast is the abundance of granite that is naturally exists here and is thus very appropriate for our designed landscapes. Different types of stone can work in both formal and informal designs. Cut or manufactured stone (called ashlar) is used for a more modern, formal look as the stone's shape is uniform with straight edges. Irregularly shaped and uncut stones (called rubble), such as fieldstone, gives a more informal look.
Stone is most often used in walls, patios and walkways. It is either dry stacked, set with mortar, or, in the case of manufactured stone, is shaped to support an interlocking system. A flat(ter) stone (or concrete) header is typically placed on top to complete the wall. Walkways and patios can take on very different looks based on the type of stone used. Flagstone is most often made from limestone, sandstone or Pennsylvania bluestone. These rocks are porous so they hold up better in cold climates, and are not as slippery when wet as other materials. Bluestone is a popular patio option that is typically cut into rectangular or square shapes. A formal or clean, modern look is easily obtained using these types of stones in a patio or walkway. Conversely, irregularly shaped flat stones laid in a curvilinear walkway creates a very informal look. You can even go somewhere in between, by using irregular shaped stones, but cutting only those along the sides to create a straight edge along the edges of the path.
Stone mixes well with other materials such as brick and metal. Stone columns with metal fencing looks nice, as does brick edging along a stone walkway. If you need a fairly tall fence, you can use stone for the base height of 18" - 36", then top it with a wood or metal fence.
Unfortunately, natural stone is expensive and will often require hired labor due to its weight. But nothing beats its permanence and natural beauty.
Here are some other ways stone can be incorporated into a home landscape, including several you can do yourself: