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Landscape Rocks, Landscape Stones, Landscape Bricks

Your landscape can be divided into two categories — the softscape and the hardscape. The hardscape may indeed be the most important. It is the base, the foundation of your landscape. Hardscaping inludes walls, fences and virtually anything else that can't be moved for a very long time. Hence, rock, stone and brick are a vital component of your hardscape. These will fom walls, walkways, steps, patios and pool areas.

Building Stone Walls
Remember to check your local codes before you begin digging to build a stone wall as you may need a permit. If you keep your retaining wall less than feet high, you probably won't be bothered with getting a permit. To build a retaining wall, you should choose stones that have two flat sides — these will become the top and bottom in your retaining wall. Choosing heavier stones will give your wall more stability. When laying your retaining wall, you'll have to lay the wall in 'courses' — in other words, lay one horizontal row at a time. For your first course of stones, choose the widest, longest, largest and flattest stones. Remember to save some of these stones for your final course, where they will work as 'capstones'. Also remember that as you lay each couse, you should take the time to fit the stones together as closely as possible.

As you're laying your stones, make sure that the stones don't wobble very much. Using small, flat rocks as 'shims' will counteract any wobbling you may have. To make a better fit, you can use a mason's hammer to fragment stones. Once you've reached your desired height, you should make a final course of capstones that will give your retaining wall a finished look.

Building A Brick Patio
To start building a brick patio, measure out your desired area. A rectangular design will be easier than a curved design. Dig out your area to a depth of 8 inches. With a carpenter's level, check that the excavation floor slopes away from the house for better drainage; the slope should be about 1/4 inch per running foot. Now tamp down your stone. Pour about 2 inches of sand over the landscape fabric; any excess sand will redistribute to the low areas so that you'll end up with a level surface.

Begin in a corner of the excavation, pressing your bricks down into the sand. Make sure that they fit closely together; use a rubber mallet to help them settle into the sand. You can choose the basket weave pattern when laying down bricks — it's a simple yet elegant design that requires no cuttng of the bricks. After you've laid the bricks, spread sand over them. Using a broom, work the sand into the cracks between bricks and then spray it down. Voila! Now you've finished your brick patio!

A Rock Garden
You can use rocks to give your landscape a tranquil, natural feeling. To make the effect appear natural, ground each stone so that it looks like the 'tip of the iceberg'. This will make each stone appear as if it were merely the exposed part of a massive underground stone formation. Remember also that the stones in your rock garden should 'relate' to each other.

Stone Walkways
Stone walkways are another wonderful way to incorporate the element of stones into your landscape. It's very simple, too. Just find or purchase large, flat stones (large enough to fit a foot). Place the stones in your garden so that they fit a casual gait. Then use a knife to trace around the edges. Pull up the grass within this pattern and lay the stone down.

Hammer For more tips on stone landscaping, visit our Landscaping forum and bounce your ideas off other DIYers!