10 Clever Ways to Use Stone in Your Landscaping Designs

Easily add a little backyard appeal with elements of sculpture stone.

Stone landscaping. Adobe Stock | Photo by Elenathewise

Easily add a little backyard appeal to your Hudson Valley home with stone sculptures, subtle fountains, repurposed planters, and more.

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

Calling to mind Japanese gardens and ancient riverbeds, the artful use of stone brings rich texture and natural beauty to the landscape. Whatever the scope of your project, there’s sure to be a stone element just right for your space. Small touches — a stone rain chain, for example, or a “bubble rock” fountain for the birds — can be just as striking as larger gestures like waterfalls, boulders and retaining walls.

Stone waterfall
MARPA DESIGN STUDIO, original photo on Houzz

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Stone waterfall and bridge. A stone slab bridge over a burbling brook makes a stunning centerpiece for this quintessential Japanese-style garden. If you’re seeking a big idea for a new garden design that incorporates natural stone and water elements, this could be right for you.

Artfully placed boulders. One or more carefully positioned boulders makes an artful statement while keeping thirsty plantings to a minimum. When you’re siting more than one boulder, remember that an asymmetrical arrangement often looks the most natural.

Stone waterfall
Garden Alchemy, original photo on Houzz

Subtle fountain. Some fountains are big on drama; others (like this one) offer a subtler touch. To get the most enjoyment from a softly burbling garden fountain, be sure to position your seating area nearby.

Stone landscape
Singing Gardens, original photo on Houzz

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Stone rain chain. Rain chains are most often seen hanging from the eaves of a roof — but with a rain chain this lovely, why not give it pride of place in your garden? A stone rain chain hanging from a tree branch looks lovely year-round and makes a meditative feature when the rain begins to fall.

Bubble rock. Attract wild birds to your yard by providing them with a source of fresh water for drinking and bathing on a DIY bubble rock. This small, homemade fountain is more appealing to birds than a traditional birdbath because the sound of moving water makes it easier for wild birds to locate. Bonus: Mosquitoes tend not to lay eggs in moving water, making this a better choice than a still birdbath if mosquitoes are prevalent in your area.

Designscape, Inc., original photo on Houzz

Stone bench. The design couldn’t be simpler or more striking, and you don’t need to live in Hawaii to enjoy it, as these homeowners do. Tuck a stone garden bench into any nook where you would like to draw attention or provide space for a quiet chat. Planting lush foliage around the bench will give the person using it a feeling of comfort and privacy.

Stacked stones. Stone cairns — simply stacks of balanced stones — have been used to mark special places and backcountry trails for ages. Build your own artful stack of stones to adorn a special spot in your garden. The process of building them is in itself a meditative activity, so you may find that it’s worth keeping extra stones on hand for this purpose.

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Fountain-turned-planter. If you have an old fountain or birdbath you’re no longer using for its intended purpose — whether that’s due to water restrictions in your area or in an attempt to keep mosquitoes at bay — consider repurposing it as a planter instead. Trailing plants with a lush look mimic the effect of water spilling over the rim.

Exteriors By Chad Robert, original photo on Houzz

Mysterious sculpture. A stone sculpture can become the focal point of a garden, bringing a dynamic, creative touch to even a small space. If the sculpture you have your eye on is small, consider elevating it on a pedestal or a platform to bring it into the spotlight.

Darwin Webb Landscape Architects, original photo on Houzz

Gabion retaining wall. A gabion — a metal cage or box filled with rocks or sometimes other materials — makes an eye-catching and cost-effective wall. Choose your stone carefully, as the type you use will influence the overall look and feel of the wall. For instance, smooth blue-gray river stones will have a much different effect from a random assortment of rough, locally gathered rock.

Related: A 75-Ton Chain Once Stretched Across the Hudson to Stop the British

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