Choosing Stone and Hard Materials: Landscape Design Advisories / Chapter 8

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Chapter 8
Choosing Stone and Hard Materials

stone materials

      Choose a Family of Stone and Hard Materials from the Beginning.

It will save alot of problems if you considerately select the set of stone and hard materials you will be using together for your ‘palette’ before you begin to design your projects in any detail.
You are after a sort of family of materials, a set that looks well together.
Your early choices may strongly influence the overall appearance of your landscape because the initial selections will often establish the kinds that you will be using in subsequent work for the sake of continuity within your place. In terms of the quality of finished appearance, the difference  between your hard materials options may be priceless, so you will want to look around and have an opportunity to choose.
The materials you select will affect the cost, the ground preparation needed, the sequence of the work and the maintenance  afterwards.

Each particular kind of hard material has a typical shape, color and texture range, and other inherent characteristics which make it suitable for some building applications and not others.
For this reason, for the different uses you will need to choose multiple kinds of stone and hard materials. Some will be best thin, others thick. Some will be large forms, but the small forms of the same kind of stone can be used in other applications for a overall natural appearance.

Once you have thought about your necessary uses, you can choose your ‘family’ of specific building materials from those that are well suited to their jobs.
The enduring materials
such as wood, stone, concrete, metal, asphalt and even plastics that you choose are fundamental in establishing an esthetic connectedness for your property.

“Devi Guardare Tutto”
=  You need to look at (absolutely) everything.

From the advice of Italian Master Mason, Carmelo Messina.

Get the best materials you can afford.

Durability is an issue. Materials that seem a bit more expensive may actually be a far better buy because their  lifetime in the landscape is a lot longer.
Time goes by quickly in a garden setting, and you won’t want to replace things just when the plant materials are maturing nicely. Or ever, preferably. If you do things right the first time, and quality stone is your medium, the work will last. Sometimes the handsomest and best overall materials may even cost less than alternatives if the source is nearby.

“Oh thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy works of art.”
Longfellow,  Gaspar Becerra

You may want to choose the very best and most long lived kinds where the floor is busiest and most visible.

Consider the character of  the various stone and other materials already in the view.

Whatever you choose to bring in should be harmonious with existing elements that you like and are keeping.
If the family of materials you build with originally came out of  the same area as you reside in, or from similar geological earth areas, when you build them in they can seem as if they had always been there.The chosen set of  materials may be more pleasing if it seems an appropriate part of the local landscape in general. If you are choosing between alternative materials, consider how their color and character will work in relation to whatever else is already on your property, in the views or in scenes nearby your home.
There are so very many kinds of stone, each with their own character. Their appearance depends on which place they come from,  the geological history of that location and how long they have been out of the earth and in the weather.

Be Consistent

If you use the same or related kinds of materials for all similar applications throughout your property, such as all the steps (or all the paths or all the stone walls) being a particular kind of material, that consistency will help create a unified feeling and esthetic within the place.

“Constancy (is) generated
by the repetition of underlying patterns.”
F. L.Wright

     Horizontal Contexts
The type of
Stone or other particular material chosen for horizontal building contexts
can be consistently the same kind or set of kinds
throughout the property.

You can use particular kinds from your set of materials in the same way in your various locations. Materials with durable flat surfaces will be good choices for the horizontal work created, such as treads of steps, paths or terraces. These can be just a couple of inches thick.

     Vertical Contexts
You can be equally consistent for vertical applications, but you probably need a different kind of material.….
When the goal is some height, as in stone wall work or construction of step risers, raised beds, rock gardens or fire pits,
Three dimensional kinds of hard materials are probably needed.
You often need small, medium and  large versions of the dimensional kinds of stone you choose. If they come from the same bedrock, they will usually look well together. Size classes roughly like Corn kernels, Marbles, Golf balls, baseballs, and soccer balls each have different jobs.

Stone that Drains away Water

You may need a small kind allowing good drainage in some areas. If this small material is taken out of the same geological location as the larger stone you are using, the color set can provide consistency. Your gravel or crushed stone may be visible in walkways, drives, surface drainage areas, or stone garden mulches. Gravel is a natural stone product, which is screened from the sand or earth matrix to obtain the desired sizes. Here the 1/2″, 3/8ths ” and 1/4 ” types are called peastone.
You will need to be careful of what you buy as peastone. It is best to check the actual source pile since the color of the natural run of peastone may vary over time. The stoneyard may change their source, so bring a sample of your own original material. In addition, some distributors of  peastone blend in crushed stone of the same size with the gravel, making the overall product have a sharp texture, which is less desirable for garden uses.

Propriety is a universal test.
F.A.Waugh, Landscape Gardening

Look around at nearby built work to find out what materials may suit your local esthetic and be available to you.

A particular vernacular visual character is established by the kinds and colors of materials that have been commonly used in your area over a long span of time. Often this is because they have been available close by. Their character is part of your biogeographical destiny, an intrinsic part of the eco-esthetic nature of your place. There are choices that are a natural part of the local palette.

“Do experiments with the materials at hand
to find out what you can do
with what is locally available…
so that people can do gardens beautifully in that area.”

Mien Ruys / Dedemsvaart, Netherlands

What is beautiful in your eyes and locally available can help you determine the range of good choices for your projects. Go see nearby stone and hard materials suppliers, quarries and maybe even excavation and blasting projects that might be sources for you.
To find suitable matching material, it will be important to travel with a few photos and physical samples of stone and materials in your car. These will speak volumes to knowledgeable masons, or the masonry and stone suppliers. Color and character are hard to describe in words.
Truly local materials may or may not be available, so if what will be used must be brought in from other areas, your job may be to locate the best match for that typical local material. This will be especially important if you want to blend with some already in your home surroundings.

Keep Track of Your Sources.

Try to get kinds of stone and other hard materials that you will be able to get again, as this will be important for your future projects. Many of the most beautiful landscapes are made over some years. If you have found a source for any wonderful material, this may be treasure for your place down the lines of time.

Keep track of where each of your chosen kinds came from, and find out how to request those particular types again. When you are engaged in making a landscape, you will be needing matching materials later, more likely than not.

Keep Track of Your Recipes.

For stone constructs with visible cement or mortar joints, or if you mix stucco, the components of the mix matter for the outcome color. There are different mixes and various proportions used by different masons and this can affect the color.
You will want to use the same recipes as are established on your property, so ask your builder or your sources how to specify them in future.If you make notes for your files at the time of the work, it saves a lot of time and trouble later, just as it does in your home when it is time for touchups and you kept track of the specific paint colors you used.
Asphalt can have different textures and colors depending on the size, color and the proportions of sand and stone embedded in the matrix. The color of the bedrock that the small stone came from will determine the overall hue.
Nearby here, we see driveways with a decidedly purple caste due to the color of the bedrock in Saugus, Massachusetts. Elsewhere we see the range of tans and greys typical of the Cape Ann gravels embedded.
Thus even when sourced locally, driveways made from materials from different quarries can have very different appearances, so where your contractor buys his asphalt, crushed stone or peastone matters. If later you need to add or patch with something resembling what you already have, it will be infinitely easier to succeed if you noted down the original source.

Keep track of your Artisans.

The hand of the particular mason or builder can be very important to the character of each built project, and to the appearance of the property overall. Consistency is most easily accomplished if you begin with an artisan whose work you love, and can who can probably come back over time for subsequent similar projects.
If this is not possible, for continuity in your place, choose someone who can build in the established style. There are many kinds of masons. The ones you need will depend upon what type of masonry work you will be doing. Best to visit their work.

LyricalA connected composition
with some repeating portions
wherein a person is led on a journey
by repeating or related parts….

781 856 5600 msg.
A Reasoned
Landscape Composition.
Stonework and Garden Design.

Unusual Plant Materials, Troughs
Tools and Antique Garden Ornaments

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  129. Posted May 23, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Very good post.

  130. Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:29 am | Permalink

    Very great post, thank you very much for making the time to write this blog.

  131. Posted May 23, 2011 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    These tips are so true

  132. Posted May 22, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the advice. Will put it to work. Tom

  133. Posted May 22, 2011 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    ¡Gran poste! Gracias por tardar la época de escribir algo que está realmente digno de la lectura. Encuentro demasiado a menudo el Info inútil y no algo que es realmente relevante. Gracias por su trabajo duro.

  134. Posted May 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    I will use your advice from now on. Jaap

  135. Posted May 21, 2011 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Not typically what I like to read about, but it was absolutely worth my time. Thanks.

  136. Posted May 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    This blog gives a nice unique spin on things. I guess having something real or substantial to say is the most important thing.

  137. Posted May 12, 2011 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    This is some thing which i dont normally do, but i loved your post so i need to say thank you. You’ve got gotten a loyal reader.

  138. Posted May 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    The contents are a masterpiece. you have performed a wonderful process on this topic!

  139. Posted May 6, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Ive recently started a blog, the information you offer on this web site has helped me tremendously. Thanks for all of your time and work.

  140. Posted January 27, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Gosh, I’ve been looking about this specific topic for about an hour, glad i found it in your website!

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