4 Tips for Landscaping With Stone by Landscape Designer Julie Moir Messervy

Shari Altman

Home Outside

Julie Moir Messervy, award-winning landscape designer and author of numerous books, shared a few tips with us recently on how to use stone to create a beautiful outdoor landscape. You'll find these tips and more inside her latest title, Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love published in 2009 by The Taunton Press.

Here are Julie Moir Messervy's four tips for using stone to enhance your landscape:

stone to enhance landscape

1. Look to nature first before placing stones. Study landscapes and landforms such as ledge outcroppings, waterfalls, and rocky coastlines to use as guides. Note the natural patterns of local stones as they sit in the ground.

stone to enhance landscape

how to set stones into the earth

2. Set stones firmly into the earth. Stones should be set at least one-third (to the knees) or one-half (to the waist) of the way up from the bottom of the rock. If the underside of a rock is exposed, it will look as though someone simply plopped it down.

setting stones
3. Establish a relationship among stones. When setting multiple stones, it helps to have an image firmly in mind before beginning. With two stones, make the larger rock the dominant stone and the smaller one the subordinate stone. For three or more stones, create a triangular relationship among them, such as with a tall “standing” stone, a medium-size flat-topped stone, and a low “lying” stone.

stone to enhance landscape

stones in the landscape

4. Use stones of different sizes to line streams or planting beds. In the natural world, processes such as deposition and erosion lead to varying depths and sizes of rocks in a formation. Re-create this aesthetic by combining rocks that are various sizes, shapes, and colors. Lines of stones that are the same size and shape will look stiff and contrived.

Enter to win a copy of Julie's book today: Giveaway: Outside the Not So Big House

Images via (top to bottom): Randy O'Rourke; Genevieve Russell; Julie Moir Messervy; Julie Moir Messervy; Ashley Ford

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