Stone in the garden

When I saw that this month's Garden Design Workshop topic was about using stone in the garden, I knew that I would have to post because there is a lot of stone in our garden. In fact, I often wonder if I've overdone it. I think the hardscape aspects of the garden are just as important as the plant material and stone has to be one of the most popular features.

When we first moved in, the only visible stone on the property was a slate walkway that leads to the front door. However, once we started digging, we discovered that there was some beautiful rock on the property. It was located inside the circular hedge inside our driveway (here is how it looked then). Apparently the walkways inside the circle were made with stones which had long been buried by the time we arrived on the scene. We dug them up and first used them to make a stone wall along our property line but later Michael came up with the idea to create a half-moon circle with them and this is where they have stayed.

Here it is in 1994 - as you can see, the garden looked quite different then!

And, here it is in a recent photo (the best one I could find)

All other rock has been bought and brought in. I started using stone to edge borders back in 2002 -

And since then, I've gone a little haywire. One day when I was visiting the city mulch pile, I discovered a huge mound of busted up concrete and a lightbulb went off in my head. I decided to bring it home and use it to cover a difficult spot that I was tired of mowing. Almost a year later and an aching back, this was the result. Recycling put to use!



A small waterfall is located next to the steps. This was the first water feature I created.

Our property is on a hill and the major portion of the garden is on a slope. If I could go back and start over again (and if I had the money), I would have designed grand terraces and graded the land properly. Since that wasn't done, I've embellished over the years. This is an area of three large terraces that I hired a friend to do. This was completed two years ago, right before we were on the garden tour. I can't get the proper angle to capture the whole area. This photo gives you an idea -


A set of steps leading up to the patio area. I've never been good at constructing steps. These are not porportioned properly and are a little difficult to climb.


Our small patio was constructed by a professional landscaping business. My dream is have a door leading out from the bedroom to the patio.


I did the pathway that runs alongside the patio. I wrote about this project in a previous post.


I've also used stone for smaller projects, such as this urn fountain.


Not sure if brick counts but I use a lot of that too.

And finally, I want to include The Wall, which is probably the biggest project I've ever tackled. It is made of concrete blocks which were then stuccoed and painted. I wanted it to look like ruins (it ended up looking like a Spanish Mission) and be the colors of Monet's Waterlilies paintings (close enough).

So, do you think there is enough stone in the garden?


  1. I think stone works very well in the garden. And I've used broken concrete in a path also. put pea gravel in between. Very cheap, and I think quite effective.
    And no, I don't think you have too much! :-)

  2. Phillip,

    Can I move into your garden? I love it and there is no way that you have too much stone...You have the best eye for garden design...generally, I am not envious but I wish I had your ability to visualize the whole plan as you have done!

    Well done Phillip...this may be one of my favorite gardens....when is the next tour?


  3. In my humble and newbie opinion you can neeeeeeeeeeever have too much stone. You have done a fantastic job! I would love to have all the stone you have there and even more. The walls are exquisite and I would have never in a million years thought of using broken concrete as a patio. I say this with all sincerity, you guys absolutely amaze me and Jamie, you really do. How many trips did it take and what did you use to haul all that concrete? Great goodness that had to be some work! You two are artist, no doubt about it and we both admire you and your accomplishments.

  4. You're going to be the object of envy with this post, Phillip. No, you do not have too much stone. It looks absolutely fabulous, and your photos make me want to drive to Alabama right now to explore the whole garden.

    About the concrete---did you have to break it up further, or was it already in those flagstone-sized chunks? Was there anything different about laying it than with stone?

  5. Phillip, gorgeous work, really. When we're up in North Alabama this July I'm going to come steal your garden. Yes, the whole thing. :)

  6. I think everything looks wonderful. You can never have too much stone. It gives your garden such good "bones". You have done a great job planning your garden.

    Always Growing

  7. Thanks for all your comments.

    Randy, I don't know how many trips it took but it was a lot. I spent about 7 or 8 months doing it. It wasn't a continuous project. I would get tired of it and go a few weeks without touching it.

    Pam, some of the slabs were quite large and I did indeed have to break them up with a sledgehammer before I could load them. I tried though to keep them as large as I could. When I laid them, I filled the cracks with smaller rocks and other filler and then used the sand topping that you can buy at Lowe's or Home Depot.

    Gail, we are only 3 hours apart. Whenever you feel like taking a trip, give me a call!

    You too Stacey!

  8. You have lots of stone in your garden, Phillip, but not too much - it looks so established and so right on your sloped land.

    I'm also thinking 'road trip' and a tour, but the wicked part of me is also thinking about stuffing you in the back of our car and driving like heck back to Texas so you can help me Rock My Garden!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  9. Count me as another vote for the "not at all too much stone" side. I love what you two have done with the real stone, but oh, that recycled-concrete project is absolutely breath-taking! It was neat to see an old picture of your garden, too: It certainly has changed since then.

  10. Not too much stone. Looks like paradise to me. What a beautiful place.

  11. Wow Phillip! You have moved as much if not more stone than me. I particularly like the recycled concrete terraces and your Monet wall. One day when I have a house to go with my cabin, I plan for them to be connected by terraced patio levels. Recycled concrete would be a good surface choice for that future project.

  12. Your garden is utterly utterly gorgeous. No, you can never have too much stone. And in my humble opinion, it works better that you designed it in bits and pieces. I don't like places that look as if they were designed on a large scale by a landscaper. It's much more fun to walk around a place where you discover different types of gardens at every turn.

    Unfortunately, I can't really use much stone. We live on a sandbank, so stone looks fairly weird unless it's treated quite formally.

  13. what a huge amount of work you have put into your should be so very proud, it's just beautiful. This is what I hope to accomplish on my property..after years and years..LOL Hey, if your free I've got lots of projects...LOL

  14. If you had 'terraced properly' way back when you might have more of a landscape than the beautiful garden you now have created. Great use of broken concrete and while your steps may be difficult to climb, they are very inviting. Not too much stone!

  15. Phillip,

    I just saw the article you wrote in the Alabama magazine...and of course I had to dash over here and tell was a wonderful1 article.


  16. You are an artist with recycled concrete. I find lots of it buried on my property, but I never thought to do anything as nice as you have. Fantastic!

  17. Wow Philip! Your garden goes on forever! Great effects, and a wonderful use of stone.

  18. Really Phillip, I don't know if one can get enough stone in the garden. I do think your garden is much enhanced with all this stone. I love what you did with every pebble. Your garden is delightful in every aspect. I would love to stroll along all of your paths. I would even like to take the stairs that you don't think work so well. In Japanese gardens they purposely make steps a little difficult so that you take your time to enjoy going through the garden. A great use for recycled concrete too.

  19. That's awesome. I am looking for stuff like this to guide me as I am slowly hoarding stones (which you can check out at if you are interested).

    I envy your long growing season! Great photos too.

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  21. From just up the road in Tennessee, i am a new admirer of your work! you've inspired me as to how to solve an unused section of gravel driveway.

  22. Love this. I have always wanted to have land with an old stone building in ruins. great job.
    jo at sunnyside

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