Working With Natural Stone In Garden Design | Jo Connolly + Welsh Slate Water Features

Working With Natural Stone In Garden Design

Huge thanks to Jo Connolly Garden Design for providing this insightful piece into Working With Natural Stone In Garden Design from a Designer’s perspective. Jo’s contact details can be found at the end of the post.

As a Garden Designer in Australia since 2006, I have worked in many styles of garden from classical Victorian, Federation & Edwardian properties to contemporary new builds & everything in between. Since returning to live in the UK a few years ago, my work here has also included a wide range of properties including ancient beamy cottages, Victorian terraces & modern renovations.

Continuing to work on both sides of the world, I have found that there are so many similarities between all the gardens I have been involved with even though the climates are vastly different. Whilst it is important to respect & compliment the architecture, setting & overall surroundings, the client’s requirements, desires & tastes are also hugely important. Striking a balance between all of this as well as the functionality & overall practicality of the garden is what makes Garden Design, so rewarding.

In order to achieve this, the materials for hard landscaping areas such as paving & walling materials, patios, entertaining areas, paths, pergolas & features etc set the overall tone of the space. This part of the garden doesn’t change, whilst the seasons & plants, do & so it is important that it works all year round & has longevity. There are so many materials to choose from depending on the ‘feel’ we want to achieve.

I regularly turn to natural stone as a large part of the overall hard landscaping palette for a number of reasons.

• From an aesthetic point of view, it has a natural & beautiful appearance, wether it be in a modern or
more traditional finish.
• The colours & finishes are varied in lovely subtle & natural colours that compliment planting & lawn. As it
comes from the earth, it naturally compliments a garden.
• It is a natural product & often low carbon footprint to produce, especially if sourced locally.
• It can act as a contrast or balance & warmth to an otherwise clinical, soulless area.
• It is long lasting & hardwearing.

Natural stone can be used in many ways.

Paving & steps (in many formats & sizes)
• Walling & facades (solid blocks, veneers & fascias)
• As support structures (pillars & posts etc)
• Seating (which functions & adds a sculptural element to the garden e.g. sitting walls)
• Sculpture & garden features

The colour, finish & format of stone create a certain look & feel.

Paler colours in e.g. Limestone & Sandstone stand out more against a garden backdrop.
• Darker coloured stone creates a more subtle effect, blending with the natural garden surroundings.
• Smooth, flat surfaces & finishes give a more modern feel where rugged, rough surfaces are softer &
more classic.
• Honed, sharp edges have more of a contemporary feel than softer, rough, rounded edges.
• Size & shape vary enormously. Sharp edged rectangles have a modern look where organic natural
shapes and natural edges are again, more classic. A mixed size pattern can often work linking old & new as well as in traditional homes.

Because stone is a natural, beautiful material it can be used to alter & enhance the surroundings, updating the look of garden, whilst still grounding it with a sense of timelessness. I often use a contemporary paver in a modern format in a period garden to create a current feel with timeless elegance. A natural stone wall can soften a very modern area & add more texture & depth.

I try to include some seating in a garden if possible, whether it be a simple stone seat or a sculptural sitting wall. It draws people into the garden to sit & enjoy, rather than just look at. It does not have to be a large area. A simple slab of natural stone has beauty & simplicity & creates a lovely seat. Put simply, a space for some peace, quiet & reflection tucked into a quiet spot in the garden is often all that is needed & is good for the soul. Sculpture & garden features draw the eye & add a focal point to a garden. They are useful to highlight an area & when water is added, enhance the experience with sound.

I love the mix of old & new, contemporary & traditional when working with natural stone in garden design. Sitting a modern piece of sculpture within a planted garden bed adds excitement & interest. An old slab of natural stone works so well in either a modern or traditional space in its simplicity amongst planting texture & colours. A keyhole in a monolith creates a view through to beyond or something of interest, leading you through the garden.

A natural stone plinth contrasts a modern piece of sculpture sitting above it with age & beauty. There are so many ways natural stone enhance a garden. The images within this post are examples of lovely locally sourced stone that I have used in gardens, in a number of finishes which create different looks to the these compliment gardens that their owners can enjoy.

Contact Jo Connolly for Garden Design

Phone 07722 036 395



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