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Landscaping with natural stone.

FOR PATHS AND patios, natural stone is one of the most widely used paving materials. And it's now more versatile than ever: this relatively smooth stone comes in a medley of colors, textures, and forms to fit a variety of landscape styles from formal to rustic.

The selection pictured below right gives you an idea of the range of colors and textures available at masonry and building supply yards; we show the ones most frequently used, some with exceptional looks. Prices vary depending on where you live and where the stone originates; for 1-inch-thick stone, averages range from $200 per ton (to cover 100 square feet) for Arizona flagstone to $340 for Lompoc flagstone.

Natural stones make attractive surfaces for driveways, patios, paths, steps--even garden benches.


When selecting stone for outdoor paving, think of how it will be used. Formal entry and entertaining areas should be smooth surfaces, safely accommodating high heels. Patios that serve as sitting and dining areas also need a level surface for chairs and tables; select a stone with a fairly smooth surface such as Idaho quartzite, chocolate Arizona flagstone, or California mariposa slate. Although the lighter pink and tan Arizona flagstones have smooth surfaces, their porous texture (which absorbs oils and stains) should be considered before using them under eating areas or near messy fruit trees.

To create a rustic feel, select stones with a varied surface texture and rounded edges, such as Boquet Canyon or silvery gray water-washed flagstone (pictured at right and on page 92. For steps and entries, choose stones with a gritty texture for traction when surfaces are wet. Quartzite and California mar iposa slate can be very slippery in frosty weather, and require scoring for safety.

A stone's color affects the design as well as the comfort of the space. Choose a color that will best suit your surroundings (expect natural color variations within each type of stone). A sitting area under a thick canopy of trees casting heavy shade could use brightening; in this situation, using a light-color stone such as Lompoc flagstone, Boquet Canyon, or Idaho quartzite will increase light reflectivity and may make the difference between a dark, uninviting place and a cool, refreshing retreat. Conversely, sitting areas in the sun need to have their brightness toned down. Designers Ted Kugelman and Steve Pendergast of Oakland created a pleasant pattern for the sitting area shown below left and reduced glare by combining three types of Arizona flagstones. The chocolate flagstone in the mix lends a vintage look, in keeping with the Tudor-style house.


Paving stones come in various thicknesses; the thinnest (also called veneer) range from 1/4 to 3/4 inch thick, and should be laid on a 4-inch cement base. Stones less than 3/4 inch thick that are laid on sand can flip up when stepped on and crack easily under excessive weight. For areas that may encounter heavy loads (such as driveways) use 1- to 2-inch stones. In earthquake country, a cement base will keep stones from shaking out of place during a temblor.

Whether stone is set on a cement base or laid in sand also depends on style. Stone's rounded and asymmetrical edges naturally lend themselves to creating flowing designs. Laid in sand, stone can create informal effects and look very soft, especially when plants are used between, the joints. For a transition area such as a walkway or a path that leads from a hard surface to a planted area, loose placement combined with ground-hugging plants adds interest.

Both setting techniques were used by landscape designer Patti Posner with Arizona flagstone to form the walkway and patio in the garden pictured at left above and on page 88. The flagstone patio was set on a cement base and the path stones in sand.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Lincowski, Emely
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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