Back in the 1970's, it was fashionable to spend some time "finding oneself" after graduating from college. So, not long after pocketing my newly minted bachelor's degree in English, I joined a landscaping crew instead of pursuing a more traditional career. While most of our duties seemed to revolve around pushing lawnmowers, we occasionally worked on more interesting projects, including a few that involved the use of stone. At the time, the material seemed to require a lot more labor than my 21-year-old mind thought it was worth, particularly on those very hot days when a truckload or more would show up on our job site, or when the client seemed overly particular about just how the stone should be placed.
Over the years, I've developed a keener appreciation for stone and the various roles that it can play in the landscape. Though carpentry has become my trade, and journalism my profession, stone has come to play a central role in my life. In Vermont, where I live, old stone walls abound, and quarries continue to produce slate, granite, and marble, just as they have for over two hundred years. The lakes my family swims in are notable for their rocky outcroppings and shale and cobble shorelines; a sandy beach is a rarity here. We fish from beautiful, boulder-strewn streams, hike on paths and ski on slopes that often seem to be carved from stone. Even our house pays homage to stone: its foundation is built directly onto bedrock. Walk down into our basement and you'll step onto the smooth ledge outcropping that passes directly beneath our home.
Besides underpinning our dwelling, granite ledges surround it. With them, we've created informal, low stone walls and borders for our gardens. From time to time, I walk out into the woods that surround our home with my pry bar and unearth new candidates, ensuring that our borders continue to slowly grow. We are, quite literally, surrounded by stone.
But we're ready to go a step further too. We have some informal flagstone paths that need attention, a gravel driveway that we'd like to redo, and a spot on our property that needs a proper retaining wall. And wed like to add on a new outdoor room, a place where we can gather and comfortably enjoy those balmy Vermont summer evenings.
Maybe you're like me, looking for practical solutions to particular landscaping problems. Or maybe you've seen a stunning wall or walkway somewhere that you think would look great at your home. Maybe you're putting in a swimming pool, and would like to make it look like a more natural part of your landscape. Or maybe your budget is more limited, but you still love the look and sound of water moving over rocks. The right kind of stone will help you achieve your goals; all you need are some ideas to help you figure out how you'll use it.
That's where this book comes in. Here you'll be presented with a range of practical and inspiring ideas for using stone in your landscape. Along with tried and true designs for inviting walkways and beautiful walls, youll see new ways of using stone in gardens and patio spaces. You'll discover ideas for creating graceful streams, waterfalls, or even simple fountains that will help transform your backyard into a private retreat. And you'll find a wide range of outdoor living spaces that family and friends can enjoy for years to come. As the examples in the book will demonstrate, there is a world of stone to explore; use this book to help get you started on the right path.