Softening the Houston Landscape with Natural Stone Patios
Natural stone patios and walkways can make a Houston landscape look pristine without abandoning the controlled principles of design. It also conveys a sense of design that is casual and relaxed. Stones are made to look as though they were made and placed by forces of Nature, but this is a skillful illusion on the part of the Houston landscape designer.
When we say natural stone, it is the natural appearance of the stone we are referring to. Stones that have not been cut, honed, or finished greatly resemble the stones we find in remote places. A natural stone patio has irregular edges as a result.
Stones are actually carefully pieced together by hand to mimic natural patterns. This process is very much like fitting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Workers must search for stones that fit with one another, so the project is not going to be finished overnight.
Still other times may require breaking up large stones to make two pieces fit together with one another. Further imitation of Nature can be achieved by chipping off part of the edge or hand chiseling the stone.
Proper installation of natural stone requires a concrete sub slab that is typically 4” thick. Stones are then laid on a mortar bed of 1” that is spread over the concrete. Grout is then added between the stones. In the final outcome, the concrete is not visible,
The majority of natural stone patios are created away from the home to provide functional space and a sweeping view of the surrounding Houston landscape, nighttime sky, lighted trees, and distant city skylines.
Because of the shape of the stones used to construct them, the patios themselves have irregular boundaries. This helps the hardscape better blend into the softscape elements of the yard.
The actual stones used are the same types of stones utilized in other Houston landscape designs. Bluestone, limestone, and flagstones measuring from 6″ up to 48” in diameter are purchased from quarries in a rough-cut shape ideal for natural stone work of this kind.
As design goes, natural stone patios and walkways enable the designer to connect architecture in a way with the Houston landscape that resolves conflict with nature. It can support any type of architecture and garden design. Tropical gardens, traditional gardens, and English gardens all look good with natural stone patios. Any water element can be enhanced by it as well, especially natural swimming pools.
Natural stone work can even support contemporary landscaping as juxtaposition to modern form.
In Houston landscape renovations where preexisting structures are not in axial alignment with one another, a natural stone walkway can prove vital to making structures that are not parallel appear as though they are. A curved linear walkway, for example, can create the perception of linearity between say an entry garden or courtyard as you move toward an outdoor room or swimming pool in the back.
Many wonder why we put so much labor into making something look labor free. The answer is because the alternative is to do what cheaper Houston landscape and garden companies do.
They put all the stones on the ground together regardless of how they fit. This makes for too much of a gap, which is then grouted or filled in with trash pieces of stone. The result consists of big pieces and a lot of little pieces that do not at all look good.
When a more deliberate approach is taken, and when landscape professionals do whatever must be done to make a Houston landscape look authentically natural, the quality of the work speaks for itself.