Photo by Michele Lee Willson, courtesy Sunset Books from Patio & Stone, p. 189

I don’t know about you, but I see a photo like the one above, and I just want to get busy! I want to figure out what they used and see how I can somehow incorporate even a smidgeon of the beauty into my garden even if it’s a humble rendition. I do. I mean, look at this! The boxwood. The fountain. The walls! The wall beyond! The doors! Where did they get those doors?? And then to have the brilliant creativity to add the lumber on the top. I mean, it’s orgasmic. Really.

Can you tell I’m into hardscape?

The truth is I haven’t done a whole lot of work with hardscape but it doesn’t diminish my passion. I did one flagstone walkway to the rose arbor; one large brick sidewalk to my guest cabin on my old four acre property; and one mini-sidewalk, that barely counts. But I am fascinated, nevertheless. So this post gave me the perfect excuse to examine hardscape more closely. I headed out for Nickel Creek Nursery, as owner Dawn excels at this sort of thing. Sure enough, look at this.

Tumbled flagstone. It looks so doable, right? It is. It’s heavy, no doubt. But what a great way to build summer muscle! If I can do it, you can, too. It’s actually very fun to fit the pieces together like a puzzle, and then to fill in the spaces in between with tiny rocks or something low to the ground. In the area I built to the rose arbor there is a hodgepodge growing of violets, some teeny succulent and a blue star creeper. I do have to weed out invaders, but it’s not that hard and I enjoy it so much. It’s a precious corner that I dearly cherish.

Poking around Nickel Creek a bit more I found this lovely used brick walkway that runs around one side of the nursery. I look at this and say, “I can do this.” How about you?

One thing I learned living in Arizona was to consider using large rocks in my landscapes. Dawn has these wonderful basilite stones she gets from East Washington state. I think they would add so much to a creative project, don’t you? And I love how she offers up a plate of river rocks for you to consider for your building palette! Yes, thank you. I’ll take a big bunch. (How do you order rocks? By the pound??)

Worse. How do you order big rocks? By the flatbed?

Clearly out of my element, I came home and turned for some good practical advice from Sunset Books’ brand new Patio & Stone: A Sunset Design Guide by Tom Wilhite and the experienced Sunset editors (published March 2009). It is rich with both photos and details to take you from start to finish. And now is the perfect time to be planning this sort of project with our weather patterns finally shifting allowing out of door time in our beloved gardens. Look at this inviting spot featured on the cover. How luxurious. A cup of tea? A nice book in the morning sun, enjoying the chirping of neighborhood birds and the buzzing of bees? How relaxing. This is the way to live.

Patio & Stone is thorough and well organized. It examines many materials you might consider using then turns to the likely projects at hand: patios, paths and steps, walls and raised beds, boulders, water features, and entryways, side yards and driveways. That about covers most of the possibilities, right? There is clearly something for every gardener aspiring to create a destination garden. The 400 beautiful photos alone make this book a valued addition to your library. Patio & Stone is the kind of book you will pour over again and again for years to come, I guarantee you, kindling your inspiration and imagination to create something wonderful and new. Enjoy, dear readers!

Love and gardening blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

14 Responses to “Hardscapes”

  1. How Lovely! Wow! That top pic is, indeed, very inviting!

    Thanks for another Wonderful journey!

    Cannot wait to see what you create next! 🙂

    Love you,

  2. Good morning, Antonia! Thanks! Yes, the top photo is my fav. I’m looking forward to studying each photo in detail. They are such rich resources for good ideas. Love, Mom xoxo

  3. Good morning, Kathryn!
    I love the crazy pavement with irregular flagstones. I have happy memories of creating pathways growing up. When my Dad and I created brick paths in a frame on sand it always would start to rain. Our favorite expression was “We are not made of sugar…what is a little heavy mist? They we would laugh when the mist got heavier!
    Your enthusiasm is winning! It is still cool and shady right now in the garden…the perfect time to create things with rocks! Ok, I am going out now and begin that long delayed patio.
    Have a wonderful day,

  4. Hi, Philip! Oh, I love what you and your dad said in the mist! “We are not made of sugar!” I’m going to remember you and your dad every time I “get caught” in the rain now and will grin when I repeat that! Too cute! Yes, early morning is the perfect time to work on a rock patio! Send me a photo when you’re done and I will post! 🙂 Enjoy! Kathryn xoxo

  5. Oh Kathryn~I let out a loud noise when I saw that gate & the stone wall. Yes orgasmic is the right word!!! I have always dreamt of living on property & of owning a backhoe so that I can move around boulders.
    And in the meantime, if you would ever like help w/ any of your projects, sign me up! I’m always game for an impromptu trip whether it is there to you or to the Farmer’s Markets…..
    Much Love to You~~

  6. Hi, Cyndee! You’re making me giggle. Owning a backhoe is not on my list, but I can see how it would come in very handy! Yes, we will do something wonderful. Soon! Kathryn xoxo

  7. My husband and I took a mid-week break to Mendocino this last week and I thought of your blog as we drove past the botanical gardens (not enough time to visit on this trip).

    I’m planning a garden renovation myself in the next month and am dithering over what stone to use. I’m a fan of Sunset’s books and recently purchased “Backyards, a Sunset Design Guide” as several of my garden design friends contributed. Perhaps I need to take a look at “Patio and Stone” as well and trust that inspiration will strike!

  8. Kathryn, assuming a big project, rock is bought by the ton. There are different types that are typical for different regions of the US and around the world. One the east coast, you see a lot of Blue Stone and granite. Here in Ohio, we use a lot of limestone and sandstone. If you want to go buy the rock at a garden center, it gets shipped in from all over and you are buying it by the pallet, etc. They come and deliver by truck with a small fork lift, usually already shaped into reasonable pieces. If you want to fit into your area, it’s best to go to the local rock quarry and get some of whatever is locally quarried, although not all rock is created equal and so not all rock can be used for walkways, or walls, etc. Rough quarry stone is much more work because you have to split the pieces to fit and you get all shapes and sizes and lots of little stuff that is waste, but it is usually much cheaper and also much more creative to make work. it also looks more like it fits in. I only advise doing this with sedimentary rock that has bedding plains to work with, also need hammers and chisles to split with. Something like granite is too hard for the average person to shape.
    Rock, brick, and pavers are heavy to work with and they should be placed on a bed of sand and/or packed gravel. The advantage of using bricks or pavers is that they are more uniform and are generally smaller, and therefore lighter. We have been building rock walls, rock walks and now gravel walks and large pergolas here on our yard for over 25 years. Some of the limestone walks have been pulled up and replaced with crushed limestone gravel (works better as the tree roots have come up) and so we are recycling bigger rocks around the yard again. I’ll take some photos this weekend and send them on.
    Finally warm, now too warm, in the 80’s. In between the raindrops.
    Julie and family

  9. Hi, Susan, so kind of you to think of this blog. 🙂 Thank you for sharing. Kathryn xoxo

  10. Hi, Julie! What a great comment! I wish I could recall your credentials precisely, but let’s just say it’s a PhD in Rocks for the moment. (I’m serious, readers!) Wow. I wish I’d been a first hand witness to your work. I have so much to learn in this dept. I’m largely suspecting my dreams are a little beyond my physical skills,and would definitely need some good muscle to help. Wonderful information. Thanks! Kathryn xoxo

  11. … and you make every choice so doable, I want them all 🙂 Hugs dear Kathryn. Keep us motivated … loving this good earth.

  12. Hi, Joey! I bet you have constructed many a path on your beautiful property! Thank you for the lovely greeting and the visit! Big hug! Kathryn xoxo

  13. I have a path that could use some stonework. 🙂

  14. Hi, Donna! I bet we all do! Thanks for the visit! Kathryn xoxo

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