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What's Up Magazine

Rock Your World

Apr 26, 2013 04:36PM ● By Anonymous

From pebbles to boulders, stonework enhances the natural feel of exterior space with touches that endure rather than depreciate.

“A stone is always a stone,” according to Matt Ciminelli, owner of a Lothian-based landscaping company. “It doesn’t lose its color, doesn’t leach; there’s little to no carbon footprint involved in its creation; and it can be repurposed numerous times.”

Boulders bring practical panache to a landscaping palette in a variety of ways. As driveway markers, they make attractive personalized address signs, provide symmetry and balance, plus protect plants from after dark encroachment of wayward tires. Boulders also routinely rescue areas where nothing will grow—like shady spots or beds located close to large tree roots—from becoming barren landscape eyesores.

Boulders seamlessly form the bedrock of an array of outdoor design features, from expansive to simple. Without the work and time involved in planting trees and shrubs, a massive stone beautifully makes its mark as a privacy wall; a miscellaneous slab of rock can be creatively reinvented as a piece of garden sculpture; and a single, simple stone bench can provide the perfect accent for a Zen garden meditation spot.

Doable landscape design that makes the transition from drawing board to backyard is the result of finding the perfect balance between beauty and budget, according to Ana Lockett of the Landscape Design Center of Annapolis and Baltimore. Incorporating natural stone can often provide the answer to design ideas that may initially seem economically out of reach. Moreover, it complements and combines function with artistic fl air, attractively incorporating the elements of fi re and water to offer elements that surprise and delight.

Stone, for instance, is among the safest ways to contain a patio or garden fi re pit. Carved boulders or outcropping hunks offer seating that withstands weather and wear, and reinforces composition continuity. It’s worth keeping in mind that rocks can be easily transformed into lanterns with some simple carving and lighting installation.

Without the work involved in maintaining a pond, stone waterfalls and fountains—whether fl owing, cascading, or bubbling—invoke the charm and drama of an aesthetic oasis, providing serenity and sanctuary. Freshly moving water also attracts butterflies, birds, and other wildlife to your outdoor environment. Again, fountains and waterfalls can be as rustic, frivolous, or formal as your landscape requires. Thinking outside the box can help you imagine that bland boulder becoming your new hot tub!

The looming landscape problems of erosion and erratically sloped areas can be creatively contained with rock retaining walls, which entail not only the longest lasting materials but allow water to fl ow and drain freely behind and through the wall, alleviating pressure while holding the slope in place. The area above a retaining wall can be a raised bed garden or an additional seating area. Miles Barnard, of a Chestertown-based landscape architecture company, likes to build on the organic, natural feel a stone retaining wall imparts by adding plantings to any open pockets of space.

Stone pavers can form a pretty and permanent pathway through your outdoor paradise. They can be arranged to guide guests effortlessly to a garden focal point, patio, or pool, while saving surrounding grass from being trampled, and allowing the grass to be easily maintained. A new walkway is also a relatively simple and cost effective way to freshen and energize a tired-looking, outdated yard. Interesting steps from a variety of stones can be added. And should your style change over time, the stones can simply be dug up, replaced, and reused in a virtually endless variety of ways.

Simply put, if you thought the rules for using natural rock in your exterior landscape were set in stone, think again. The possibilities are endless, and could totally rock your outlook on outdoor design.