Imagine walking through a garden along a winding gravel path. You settle down on the grass with a book, under the afternoon sun. Relaxing, wouldn’t you agree?
Little else is as effective a stress buster as an aesthetically maintained landscape garden. If you love to unwind in your own patch of greenery, we are here to help you design your version of bliss.
While the greenery is the key element, an essential complement is the hardscaping material you use to decorate. Let’s take a look at some of the more versatile hardscaping options.
As the name suggests, these are small, round, pea-sized stones, commonly found near water bodies. Natural weathering gives them a smooth texture and a variety of colors like rust-brown, white, gray, and translucent.
Pea pebbles are an ideal hardscaping material for patios, playgrounds, and driveways. They also serve as a good mulching material for plants. They help retain moisture and prevent weed growth. Unlike organic mulch, this gravel does not decompose.
Because of their porous, lightweight nature, pea pebbles also help ensure proper water drainage from your garden. Placed around the base of a house, they act as excellent pest barriers because termites, rodents, and other little critters cannot eat through the stones.
But keep in mind, you have to use an edging material along any area of your garden that’s hardscaped using pea gravel. These small pebbles tend to scatter if not contained.
Pea gravel shifts when you put weight on it, making it inconvenient to walk on or drag anything across. You may have noticed what a task it is to push a wheelbarrow or stroller through the stones. For the same reason, you can’t place garden furniture on pea gravel.
It costs about $5 per square foot if you hire a professional to install pea gravel. Doing it yourself is cheaper by nearly 50%.
Sourced from river beds or beach deposits, these stones are a common sight in a rock garden landscape. Moving water, abrasive stones, and colliding particles give river rocks a smooth texture. They are available in a variety of colors and range between 0.5 to 5 inches in size.
A lesser-known variety of river rocks is the Mexican beach pebble. These have a naturally dark color and polished or matte finish. This versatile landscape material adds a touch of class to large potting containers or a back yard Zen garden.
These landscape rocks impart a natural aesthetic to flower beds and water features. They also help with erosion control by draining water away from designated spaces. Larger river rocks are also used to create edgings along lawn borders.
Because they do not erode or decompose, they also make a good substitute for mulch. They optimize water usage in gardens by retaining soil moisture.
Generally sold by the pound, the price of river rocks varies depending on their size. The larger Mexican pebbles are more expensive than the basic versions.
You should consider buying a leaf blower to clean landscape gardens that have river rocks. This is because debris and dirt tend to get trapped in the grooves formed by these landscaping rocks.
One of the most versatile landscaping materials, crushed stones are available in a variety of sizes, ranging from 0.5 to 4 inches. Since larger rocks are crushed to form this landscaping stone, there is no uniformity in size.
Crushed stones also have jagged edges, are rough to touch, and are colored in shades of black, white, or gray. The angular edges make it easier to pack this material in place, because a stone can seamlessly fit in with another one, like a jigsaw puzzle.
Excellent for building sidewalks, crushed stone is also useful in designing driveways. They hold their place better than other landscaping rocks and do not scatter everywhere. They are a better, longer-lasting replacement for organic mulch.
Crushed stones also aid water drainage and prevent the formation of puddles. They are a good choice of barrier material around the foundation of your house to keep water from seeping in. Investing in crushed rocks for your landscape is, thus, a prudent move.
You can also use these landscaping stones as an effective method of natural pest control by:
- Using them to form a barrier around plants and trees.
- Creating a border along the edge of your property, especially in forested areas.
- Utilizing them as drainage aids to reduce moisture retention and prevent fungal growth.
Formed out of the natural weathering or erosion of granite — a solid, hard, igneous rock, decomposed granite is an ideal hardscaping material. The individual particles measure less than half an inch, with a majority being as small as a grain of sand.
Decomposed granite is the most suitable landscaping rock for building pathways, designing rustic patios, or as a soil topper for arid plants that need help with water retention. This landscaping rock is available in several colors.
Decomposed granite is divided into 3 varieties:
- Natural decomposed granite can be spread around plants as mulch. It lasts considerably longer than organic alternatives and will continue to weather and provide the soil with nutrients.
- Stabilized decomposed granite is ideal for paving patios and pathways.
- Decomposed granite with resin is best suited as landscaping stones for driveways. The surface resembles that of asphalt but is more permeable.
These landscaping rocks tend to stick to the bottom of your shoes after you walk on them and can cause scratches on hardwood or tiled floors. It is a good idea to take off your shoes before going indoors if you have a decomposed granite pathway in your garden.
Things to Consider When Selecting Hardscapes
The best hardscape designs are a seamless merger of functionality and aesthetics. Let’s take a look at the factors you need to consider, depending on your requirements, before investing in hardscaping materials.
- Location: Once you have decided on the garden space you want to hardscape, you need to find out details like the slope of the land and the layout of underground pipelines to select the ideal material.
- Functionality: You need to consider the purpose you want the hardscaping material to serve. For example, if you want to pave the sides of a swimming pool, it would be better to use larger gravel than small, smooth pea gravel.
- Maintenance: Think about how much time you will devote to cleaning and maintaining your garden. Hardscape gardens are generally easy to maintain, provided the materials are in line with your lifestyle.
- Aesthetics: It’s easy to go overboard with hardscaping projects because everything is so beautiful. Draw up a plan before getting started. Take care to ensure it blends in a well-balanced manner with the greenery.
Depending on your budget and how elaborate your hardscaping plans are, you can choose to hire a professional or do it yourself. If you decide to be self-sufficient, make sure you read our blog on garden decor ideas before getting started.
Photo from Flickr by Korye Logan
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