How to use Natural Stone in the Garden and Outdoors
Tips and guidance for selection and maintenance
When choosing how to decorate exterior areas of your house or garden, it can be tricky to find the right materials.
With natural stone, if chosen well, the result can be a superior décor that will last a lifetime or more.
To start with, using a natural stone means being environmentally responsible. Taking into consideration the manufacturing process, stone has developed over millions of years through unique conditions in pressure and temperature – you can read more about the formation of each stone here.
Other imitations of stone, or engineered stone surfaces, use chemicals and synthetic materials to recreate the aesthetic of real stone, with differing levels of success and quality. This, in turn, has implications on the suitability and lifetime of the material used.
To demonstrate the longevity of natural stone, one need look no further than monuments like the pyramids. However, in more contemporary terms, stone used in modern buildings can be expected to last a good 80 years or so.
It goes without saying that different types of stone will undergo different levels of wear over the years, indicators can be taken from how they are formed. Granite, for example is formed from volcanic magma, therefore it is a very hardwearing material. Limestone, on the other hand, is a softer material, formed predominantly from calcium. Always go for a type of stone that is suited to the wear and tear that it will be subjected to and you should have very little issue.
Different ‘finishes’ to stone surfaces are done to affect their suitability for a certain purpose, as well as for aesthetic reasons. Whether polished or matte, stone can be a beautiful addition to your garden. You should, however, always consider the purpose and placement of the stone before deciding which finish (surface texture) you order.
If you are using stone for flooring by a pool for example a flamed, rugged finish would be best. Polished and finely honed surfaces should be avoided, in this situation, simply due to risk of slipping.
Stone is rated for this exact reason and you can obtain a ‘slippage’ rating before buying, to find the best suited stone and finish.
Of course, natural stone can be used in many other ways outdoors too. In the garden, natural stone tiles can be a great addition to bring out a certain, key feature. Even in forming a path or patio area natural stone always looks superb.
In order to keep your chosen stone looking at its best, you may use a sealant to prevent any unwanted growth from occurring on the surface, such as algae. Having done this, you will find it to be a very low maintenance. A wash-down of the stone can be done with a simple garden hose.
Some methods of fixing your stone will also help with the maintenance in the long run. When placing stone slabs down, you can raise them up, on ‘paving pedestals’ designed to prevent water from being absorbed too much into the stone itself.
Please do keep in mind that it is always best to ask your mason when considering where it will be and what you are using. They will be able to give you pointers as to the best way to fix your stone. As well as this, you need to be wary of the specific environment that you will be placing the stone in as there may be factors that could affect the look of the stone in the long run.