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More than ever, stone and brick create yard and garden wonder

Apr. 19, 2013
 
One way to use stone in the yard and garden is to create pathways and trails that lead to quiet places of contemplation and beauty.
One way to use stone in the yard and garden is to create pathways and trails that lead to quiet places of contemplation and beauty. / Gannett Wisconsin Media

A birdbath gardenWho says a bird bath has to hold water?
An old concrete bird bath is the perfect place to grow a miniature, or fairy, garden. These types of gardens are hot, with a number of specialty garden stores carrying entire lines of accessories and plants for miniature gardens. Use succulents, miniature hostas, mosses and other terrarium plants to create a world of wonder inside your old bird bath.
Add decorative glass, pebbles and other accessories to create a magical garden in miniature.

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Stone and brick are common staples in yard and garden landscaping, both for practical, utilitarian purposes as well as for the ornamental beauty and hardscape value they add. Stone and brick are sturdy, long-lasting, often permanent fixtures in the landscape, and the ways we use them are as varied as our individual taste and imagination.

With families creating their own paradise close to home in their back yard, creative, new ways to landscape with garden and stone continue to emerge. Even the most commonplace stone and brick options can be used to create awe and inspiration.

Here are some easy, interesting ways you can incorporate this new age of stone into your outdoor world.

Pathways to serenity

One way to use stone in the yard and garden is to create pathways and trails that lead to quiet places of contemplation and beauty.

Stone pathways can be as simple as flagstone or limestone slabs placed in a simple row as stepping stones or an elaborate, ever-changing flow of stone and pebbles that washes through your garden paradise.

Whether opting for the natural look of moss-coated limestone, the formal look of neatly placed stepping stones or the complex, creative wonder of stone and paver tapestries, it’s simple for you to install your own pathway of stone this season.

Trends in stone pathways include combining stone, brick and pavers of various colors, styles and sizes together to create repetitive patterns that lead visitors along the way.

Another trend is the use of low-maintenance ground covers such as thyme, mosses and other plants between spaced pavers to create natural looking, even scented pathways. An herbal pathway, including lavender, mints and other scented herbs, can be created by lining a simple stone path with these plants and allowing the foliage to flow over the trail, where the scent will waft into the air with each passing footfall.

Pebble rivers

Who says you can’t have a river flowing through your yard and garden?

Pebble rivers are hot and easy to create all on your own. A simple, narrow stream of rock, winding carelessly down a slight slope or through the center of a garden is a wonderful way to create an atmosphere of peace and serenity in your garden space.

Using stone or gravel of your choice along with river banks made of larger, irregular shaped rocks and boulders, you can create a natural looking streambed quickly and transform you entire garden with this easy, instant makeover project.

For the water, use colored gravel or natural, black river rock and pebbles. Or use sheets of blue-gray shale interwoven to create the look of flowing ripples down a stream. If you’re really into it, spray paint a load of plain gravel any shade of blue to create the appearance of running water.

Zen in the garden

The art and style of Japanese, or zen, gardens has been around for decades, yet the features and elements of this garden style still gain popularity each year.

The core of the zen garden is the gentle, flowing pattern created in the landscape by fields of subtly colored stone. In spirals, ribbons and naturally flowing shapes and patterns, different sizes and shapes and sizes of stone, pebbles and gravel can be used together to create a soothing, calming oasis.

Combined with the unusual, one-of-a-kind beauty of sculpted trees, miniature and dwarf conifers, sunken ponds and pools, and stately, oriental lilies with intoxicating scents, the zen garden is complete.

Painted treasures

Now, more than ever, the urge to create our own, personalized garden art and creative landscaping is a top priority. We long for personalized, intimate art and elements that we can create and do to save money or to showcase the creative minds of our children as well as our own.

Stone and brick offer an endless number of options to do just that. Here are a few ideas to help spur your imagination.

» Creating your own painted rock plant markers is a breeze — and free — when you use rocks and stone found on your own property or gathered from a friend or neighbor. Make friends with a farmer, for they are always eager to part with rocks and stones from their plowed fields.

Painted plant markers offer a great way for you or your children to show off your creative side, including painting the desired plants on the rocks, or simply the name of the plant in colorful lettering. Plant names can be punched into the rock using metal letter punches.

» For a simple garden decoration, paint rounded, oval rocks into colorful, natural-looking bird’s eggs and place in a “nest” made of straw, mosses and clay.

» Lace painting on rocks is a hot trend right now and quite simple. Use flat, black river rocks and white paint to create wonderful laced effects on the rocks and scatter through the garden or in baskets.

» Transform ordinary concrete stepping stones into works of art by painting butterflies, birds, flowers and plants using regular acrylic paint and waterproof sealer.

» Another fun way to use painted rocks and stones is to use different shapes and sizes of concrete pavers and edges to form animals, plants or other designs, such as spirals and swirls in the yard and garden. Using concrete edgers and paving bricks, you can create the shapes of wildflowers, fish, butterflies and so much more.

Garden walls

Vertical gardening is all the rage, finding great new ways to maximize garden space or to create new gardening space where none existed before.

A simple, inexpensive way to get started in vertical gardening is to create a garden wall using everyday cinder blocks.

Simply stack the bricks into a wall or arching border, turning some sideways to open up one or two of the spaces in the block for planting. Alternate blocks to form plenty of planting holes along the wall at varying heights and you now have potentially dozens of new places to plant. Use these spaces to grow herbs, annuals, succulents and more.

— Robert Zimmer: 920-993-1000, ext. 7154, rzimmer@postcrescent.com

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