Whether the setting was the New England woods or the Southwestern desert states, early settlers made ample use of the materials at hand to build walls, create pathways and add beauty to their surroundings. Even today, building with field stones offers both aesthetic and practical advantages.
In the book, "Landscaping with Stone," Pat Sagui separates landscape ideas for field stones into three separate categories: ideas that mimic nature, functional projects and sculptural projects. Those categories are a handy framework for coming up with field stone landscaping ideas.
Field Stone Projects that Mimic Nature
Rock gardens are an example of a field stone project that mimics nature, but it's not the only way to use field stones in a landscape. Turn a small group of large boulders into a focal point of an otherwise smooth lawn, perhaps accenting them with a bed of impatiens or other annuals. Wedge long, flat stones into the slope of a hillside to create natural steppes, and plant-trailing ground cover to tumble over the edges. Use field stones to edge and disguise the sides of a man-made pond, blending it into the surrounding environment. Even pebbles can be used to good effect as a natural accent in the landscape. Try digging out a small gully and filling it with pebbles to simulate a dry stream bed, or placing larger rocks in the path of a water feature to create eddies and whirls in the stream.
Functional Field Stone Project Ideas
Field stone walls are among the most enduring landscape features of the Colonial and Pioneer eras. Whether the stones are intricately fitted to stand alone, or set with mortar, walls made of field stone bridge all aesthetics from rustic to contemporary. Stone walls are just a starting point, though. They can be built around raised flower beds, provide an edging--and seating space--for a patio, or create an enclosure to shelter plants or a wood pile. Other functional stone projects that fit into the landscape design include stone fire pits and barbecue pits, walkways made of stepping stones and lawn edgings.
Sculptural and Decorative Field Stone Ideas
Some field stone accents are purely ornamental. A fairly recent trend that combines Eastern and Western rock garden influences is the stone mosaic, often created as a centerpiece for a patio or formal garden. Field stone mosaics may be dry laid (set without using mortar), or laid in cement or mortar. They use stones in varying shapes, colors and sizes to create a mosaic pattern that is often abstract. Field stone mosaics are used as patio floors, but can also be used to create pathways in a formal or informal garden. Other sculptured pieces also serve a functional purpose. A hollowed boulder may hold water for a bird bath. A large flat-topped stone could be set on top of a set of metal legs to be used as a table or bench. It only takes a creative eye to see the potential in an unsual stone or grouping of stones to create a unique, natural landscape.
- Landscaping with Stone; Pat Sagui; 2009
- Sunset Landscaping with Stone: Natural-Looking Paths, Steps, Walls, Water Features, and Rock Gardens; Editors of Sunset Books; 2006
- Photo Credit Jack Hollingsworth/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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