Landscape Design—Using Stone in Hardscaping

A large expanse of lawn is beautiful to look at, but this type of landscaping can become boring. A great landscape should invite you in, making you want to experience it firsthand. And what better way to upgrade your landscape design than using stone and hardscaping?

Landscaping, Hardscaping and Softscaping

The term “landscaping” can refer to the art of designing an outdoor area or the space itself. A balanced outdoor design needs both softscaping and hardscaping.

Softscaping refers to the living elements of the landscape:

  • Flowers
  • Plants
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
Large stepping stones leading to a circular patio with firepit

Hardscaping includes the manmade elements of the landscape, such as:

  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Retaining walls

A mix of hardscaping and softscaping transforms property into a functional and aesthetic landscape. Here are some hardscaping ideas for inspiration.

And read why hardscaping is perfect for your outdoor living space.

Materials Used in Hardscaping

Materials commonly used in hardscaping include:

  • Stone
  • Manmade pavers
  • Brick
  • Natural wood and wood composites
  • Tile
  • Steel

The Benefits of Stone

An expansive stone patio with outdoor furniture

Today stone is popular for hardscaping because it’s versatile and functional—and fits within many budgets.

Stone Comes in Many Varieties

Stone comes in a large variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. It can be cut  into rectangles, squares, or custom shapes, or be left in its natural form.

Different stone colors include:

  • Reds
  • Blues
  • Greys
  • Greens
  • Yellows
  • Pinks
  • Orange
  • And black and white

Stone Is Attractive and Functional

A stone entryway to a beautiful colonial style home

Stone is a natural material that adds detail, character, and a sense of importance to your landscape and home. Its strength and durability make it an excellent choice for patios, retaining walls, walkways.

Stone Makes a Statement

A wooden deck is pleasant but think of the visual appeal a stone patio adds to a yard.

Stone Requires Little or No Maintenance

Natural stone is durable—it can easily weather the elements and keep its timeless beauty and strength.

Wood can be attractive, but outdoor wood elements require considerably more care and maintenance.

Stone Can Be Used as a Strong Focal Point

An aesthetically pleasing natural stone boulder will add to the beauty of your landscape; it will add a feeling of serenity and permanence while showing off nature’s natural beauty.

Specific Ways to Incorporate Stone into Your Landscape

Garden Paths and Walkways

Stone walkways or garden paths made of geometric or organically shaped stones make it easy to walk safely around your property. They will last for years and won’t crack or show other damage.

As a Focal Point

Every landscape needs a focal point as a resting place for the observing eye. Without a focal point, the viewer feels the landscape has no definition or purpose.

Rock Garden

Use a combination of boulders, rocks, stones, gravel to create an eye-catching but serene rock garden for relaxing and meditation.

Add a garden bench and visitors will definitely want to experience your new space.


Landscapers can build a patio made of a single type of stone or incorporate different varieties. Given the versatility of stones, the design options are limitless.

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are both attractive and functional. A well-constructed stone wall will be sturdy and long-lasting.

A natural stone retaining wall looks right at home in your backyard and keeps soil and garden debris from washing away.


Stone is the natural material for firepits. Add stone seats around the firepit to encourage fireside stories and marshmallow toasting.

Included in Water Features

If you have a water feature, place small stones in the water for decoration and to reduce sounds from too noisy fountains or waterfalls. Use stones to create a path around a pond, or in a pond to provide shelter for fish.

An outdoor kitchen and pizza oven with patio and stonework

Enjoy the stonework in these innovative outdoor living spaces.

Types of Stones Used in Hardscaping


It has a rich texture and comes in many shades, with tones that appear more neutral and earthy. Its more subtle colors allow it to blend easily with different home designs.


Bluestone is a type of flagstone. It comes in shades of blue and gray. It is naturally dense, has an extremely sturdy surface, and does well as a weather-resistant finish. Bluestone lasts about 50 years even when exposed to freezing temperatures and heavy rainfall.

Bluestone has a rough, slip-resistant surface and works well around pool areas.


Limestone is less durable than bluestone, but certainly more affordable. It comes in colors of yellow, gray, beige, and black.

Gravel and Crushed Stone

A Bridgehampton home’s yard with stone pathway and graveled area

Gravel is a naturally occurring stone that comes in different shapes and colors.

It is attractive and used for:

  • Walkways
  • As filler for paver areas
  • As ground cover

Machines create crushed stone, and the results aren’t always as attractive as natural gravel.

Crushed limestone is popular for its lighter shades. Landscapers commonly use it as a base for other materials or to facilitate drainage.

Pea gravel is small, pea-sized stones. They are round and more comfortable to walk on.


Boulders are great focal points and natural statement pieces in your yard. Your landscaper will help you find boulders in a shape and color that works best in your landscape.

You never want to transport or install a boulder yourself—a three-foot boulder weighs up to 1,800 pounds! Experienced landscapers must safely install the boulder in your yard, so it won’t shift from rain or erosion.

Here are some exciting ideas for using boulders in landscaping.

River Rock

River rocks are attractive, round, smooth rocks that have been naturally smoothed by erosion in water. They come in many colors.

River rock is commonly used to aid drainage and prevent erosion.

They are commonly used:

  • In attractive dry creeks
  • As decoration around plants and flowers
  • With mortar, to create decorative outside walls


Paver is a general term for a landscaping material for outdoor use. Manufacturers usually cut pavers from natural stone or use concrete or brick. Pavers are easier for installers to work with because they are uniform in size and color.

Natural stones used for pavers include:

  • Flagstone
  • Bluestone
  • Limestone

Pavers are useful for:

  • Patios
  • Garden borders
  • Walkways

Read about more hardscaping materials.

Contact Sponzilli Landscape Group to design and install outstanding softscaping and hardscaping for your landscape.

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