Why natural stone makes your garden look fantastic
Even in the smallest of gardens, there is room for stone. Not paving stones, not poured concrete, not interlock pavers, but real and natural stone. Here’s why: stone provides a natural foil that shows off annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees to their best advantage. Stone also provides a sense of history and time, even if your garden is brand new. By definition, all natural stone is tens of thousands of years old. So, it’s always a great idea to incorporate stone into any garden design. And importantly, stone provides much needed winter interest.
When choosing stone for your garden design, use whatever stone is indigenous to your area. It will look more natural, and you’ll save a buck or two, as shipping will be cheaper. Much of the price of stone is simply getting it to market; shipping heavy stuff is expensive. The best idea is to visit a nursery, such as Agram Garden Centre, Van Beek's (Milton) or Van Dongen’s Garden Centre, in Oakville, Ontario. Not all garden centres carry stone, so always call first. Here are some ways to incorporate stone into your garden:
Big boulders can act as focal points in the garden. Always go with a group of odd-number stones, for example, three or five. Arrange them in visually pleasing groups, not straight lines, so they will look more natural.
Fence posts for a garden gate.
Table-tops and bench seats can be created with cut stone slabs.
Rock gardens, planted with plants that tolerate drought and heat. With rock gardens, it is a good idea to bury at least one-third of the rocks, and then put soil in the crevices before planting. This way, the soil acts as a wick, bringing moisture up to plants.
Cairns are small or large mounds of rocks that have been used for thousands of years as markers. An inuksuk is a special type of cairn. You can make both in your garden.
Paths and stairs, even in a very small garden, three or five fieldstone slabs can act as stepping stones linking one area of the garden to the next, making your garden look great. Stone stairs add much more value to your property than poured concrete steps. Even paths within garden beds look great, and give you footing to do your weeding, trimming, and deadheading. Areas under mature trees where the grass has naturally died back can look great with a few fieldstone slabs scattered about.
Fountains, birdbaths, and small ponds look great when made with natural stone. You can even look for a large boulder with a good-sized indentation at the top, that will pool water for birds and insects—a natural birth bath!
Dry creek beds created with round river stones are a wonderful way to draw the eye along certain sightlines in the garden. Dry creek beds can also hide drainage problems along your property. Best of all, you can create a dry creek bed yourself in one afternoon with some landscape fabric and several bags of round river stones.