Shut Up And Dig

What do we think about stone?

Laura ~ Raise Your Garden8 comments1056 views
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Well, duh. We love stone, right? Stone is the highest and best type of garden hardscaping, right? Better than brick, better than wood, way, way better than plastic. And resin? Really?

This summer, I made the decision that stone would be better than wood and brick. We had two sets of wooden steps, both with wide, dangerous gaps between the steps. Unbelievably, we allowed these inherited steps (above) to remain for over 16 years. Finally, this year it was time. I hadn’t killed myself yet, though I did trip once and landed upright—with a glass of wine.

Then, there were the brick enclosures (above). You had to admire the engineering: the bricks are the type that have holes in them, so they were connected with rebar and then topped with two layers of two-by-fours. But this made them incapable of holding soil—it would leak out through the gaps. These also lasted 16 years. So, yeah, I have to admire the durability.

This bed will be reworked in the fall–it got to be a jungle when it had the high wall.

Nonetheless, the high brick enclosure made a perennial bed into an unwieldy corral and the wooden stairs were just two drinks away from the emergency room. So we are doing … stone. Low stacked stone for the beds (above) and stone steps with custom wrought iron railings. At first it was exciting, but now, as with all jobs, we are praying for it to be done. And beautiful. Which we think will happen.

But here’s my issue. Stone needs softening. I’ve placed containers with flowers along the  steps that are done. And containers with flowers along the new stone raised bed enclosure, which is much lower than what was there. I have a patio garden, not a meadow, so I’m used to artificial means. I think of the beautiful daisy steps I saw at Hestercombe, in Somerset (above). That’s the way to deal with stone.

How do you deal with it?

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on July 19, 2016 at 8:06 am, in the category Designs, Tricks, and Schemes.


  1. The stone is gorgeous, and probably safer than ancient gappy wooden stairs. But if you have any elders in your life, keep an eye out for cracks and uneven surfaces, and if you have icy conditions, be prepared to put some grit or salt down.

  2. I think the difference in harmony between your (beautiful) stone planters with your old plantings vs the English steps (with Erigeron?) is that you have very strong plants sort of battling it out with stone, which is also very strong. I think the wood and brick you’ve had (as long as the brick isn’t really uniform) are all soft looking. The tiny pale flowers of Erigeron soften the stone, and you might need something of harmonizing color, likely with soft/small flowers or fine foliage to make the transition as well.

  3. Fill those little gaps with soil and plant sedum in the sunny areas and mosses in the shady ones. They are well suited to growing in spots like this. When we had our similar stone steps put in they looked a bit stark but after a couple of seasons they “dirtied” up a bit and blended into their surroundings a bit better. I wonder if you were to rub soil into the steps some of the pigment would adhere to the cracks and tone them down? Or are you happy with the light color in contrast to the surroundings?

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