Masonry is an important part of creating beautiful, memorable landscaping. From terraces that tame steep hillsides to entertaining-friendly gathering areas, masonry helps blend hardscapes into the surroundings and offers an opportunity for artistic expression. Aside from paver patios and walkways, which are common uses of masonry these days, here are four different uses of masonry for your Southampton, NY, landscape.
Even brand-new stone walls can be made to look as though they have been there for centuries. Today, homeowners have choices, from how they want the wall designed to the shapes, colors, and textures of the stone blocks that make up their wall.
Masonry has always been an art. In addition to shapes, colors, and materials, you have options when it comes to the construction method: dry stack, mortared, and recessed mortar walls each have their place and offer a unique design aesthetic.
If you have a sloped lot, a retaining wall controls erosion and runoff and gives you more useable outdoor space. Use low walls to frame a garden, higher walls for privacy, or walls with a built-in water feature for a “wow” factor.
Seating walls provide overflow seating without clutter. Built to the right height, just about any wall has the potential to become a seating wall. Perhaps the best seating walls have a back, which allows users to rest comfortably and provide additional sense of space and security, but you can mix it up for a whole other type of seating option. For example, install a seating wall with a high back around a fire pit to create a cozy gathering space, and balance it out with a low backless wall on the patio perimeter. That wall may not necessarily be meant to provide full-time seating but instead give people a chance to sit and smell the flowers or at least admire the beautiful masonry work from across the way.
Masonry steps are weatherproof, durable, and give the appearance of having been in place for many years. Options abound, from rough-hewn boulder steps to stone slab. Boulder steps present a way to enhance use of less-trafficked areas such as steps leading to a meditation alcove. They are not ideal for high-traffic areas because of their inherent unevenness, but they are charming in that they blend perfectly into the landscape, and their substantial look can be softened with plants.
Stone slabs are often used as stair treads. They are more uniform in shape than rough-hewn boulders, making them safer to climb and more suitable for higher-traffic areas. For more interest, use different stone materials for the tread and for the riser, and incorporate built-in low-voltage lighting that illuminates each step and highlights the steps’ textures.
Focal points involving masonry help break up an expanse of green. An artfully placed mini-patio, for example, can create a zen meditation space. A stone bench serves as a natural place to contemplate the beauty of nature. And stacked stones can serve as the backdrop for a waterfall or pond. Masonry fireplaces, fire pits, and water features are universally loved for their ability to draw a crowd and encourage people to linger.
When using masonry as a focal point, think about contrast. What color stones will make a wall or boulder stand out from the surroundings? What colors, sizes, and shapes will make features stand out? Where can you place your focal points for maximum impact? What types of lighting will make it pop at night? The answers, with the help of your landscape contractor, will help you make satisfactory decisions for your next masonry project.