It’s close to spring. The weather is still cool. The bugs are minimal. Now is a great time to get some backyard projects completed. If you’re looking to make your outdoor space stand out, consider getting creative with stone. Here are some of our favorite ideas.
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A gabion is a box or cylinder made from welded wire mesh that is filled with rocks, concrete, shells, or sand. Gabions can be used as retaining walls, fences, or planters. Honestly, they’re not very pretty but can be made beautiful with the addition of some greenery. Moss, grass, and other plants that grow well around stones can be planted between the rocks and on top. They can also be combined with wood or large stones to create seating and tables.
This gabion was featured on Deavita and is a great example of how to make it greener and prettier. The introduction of water makes it a wonderful focal point.
Plant Care Today has some creative examples for how to use gabions. They include mailboxes, barbecues, address signs, waterfalls, and ponds. Here is one of our favorites.
Create an interesting gathering place or talking point in your back yard by creating some stone seating. This charming stone chair located in Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, is one example of what you can do when you get creative with stone elements. You can see it wasn’t made with a few large stones but pieced together with many smaller ones.
Looking for something softer to sit on? This stone sofa has cushions and was designed and built by Grace Design in California. It’s not a beginner project, because it’s fitted sandstone mortared over a concrete footing. However, Margie Grace of Grace Design has said it could also be built with blocks faced with stone.
Stone Fire Pit
Fire pits are great for gathering around on a cool night and roasting smores, or even cooking up a meal if you have the right design. Just be careful that you’re following city and county laws or you could end up with a fine. Also, make sure you follow burn bans. They’re established for everyone’s safety and are usually posted on the county fire department website.
If you’re located within Wilmington city limits, outdoor fire pits for burning wood and other solid fuel are prohibited, even if used for cooking. Fire pits utilizing natural or propane fuel are allowed. In the unincorporated areas of New Hanover County, fire pits are allowed as long as they meet certain requirements. If the fire is no more than 3 feet wide and 2 feet high, the fire pit can be a minimum of 25 feet from a structure. Anything larger must be 50 feet from a structure. When choosing a location, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Place a fire pit as far away from structures as possible. Bob Vila has some good tips on choosing a location, materials, and safety gear for your fire pit.
There are a lot of tutorials on Pinterest for making back yard fire pits. You can even get kits from Lowes and Home Depot. Depending on the design you choose, they can take a day or two to build.
Want something simple and low-cost? Here’s a simple fire pit that only costs $80 to build. The tutorial has great step-by-step photos, and the blogger’s enthusiasm is refreshing.
Looking for a project that creates a whole sitting area? This fire pit project includes a purchased kit from Home Depot and a gravel sitting area. Four Adirondack chairs complete the space.
Of course, if you want to go all out, you could build a paver patio and sitting wall (straight or curved). You can read one of the linked tutorials or check out this step-by-step video.
If you’re located on the coast and affected by hurricanes, like we are in Wilmington, you may want to consider purchasing a grate, tripod, or swivel system for your fire pit. They allow you to cook over fire, which can come in handy when you are without electricity.
One of the most gorgeous stone features you can add to your property is a stone mosaic. It’s basically a pattern of pebbles set within mortar. It can be created as a patio, walkway, or accent border. Larger rocks can even be incorporated, though pebbles are most common. With some planning and a basic understanding of tools and creating forms, they’re easy to make with most of the work on an average walkway completed over a weekend.
If a walkway seems daunting, you may want to start with a steppingstone mosaic. This can be a fun project to complete with kids.
Need more inspiration? Here you can see a professional stone mosaic artist at work.
Stone Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds help keep out pathway weeds, have excellent drainage, and are easier on your back. They can be constructed with cheap materials, like wood. However, stone lasts longer and requires less upkeep. You can easily create long rectangular beds with pavers or do something more interesting like these tiered, curved garden beds.
Even something small like this spiral herb garden will add noteworthy appeal to your landscape. This can be created with pavers, rocks, and bricks. Plant your favorite herbs or use one of the plans at the bottom of the tutorial.
While stone may not be the cheapest material to use in your back yard projects, it gives your home a higher impression of value. It’s also sturdy and comes in a variety of colors and textures, so there are a lot of interesting possibilities. Just make sure you install a proper base for your project (as each tutorial explains) or it could lean and become unstable if there’s any settling.
Do you have your own favorite back yard stone project? Share it in the comments!
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