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How To Use Natural Stone In Your Landscaping

One of the best things about heading out for a hike in the great outdoors is the natural landscape and how a dose of it can calm even the most rumpled of spirits.

Whether you’re looking for a sleek modern look in your yard, or you prefer a slightly more wild design, natural stone is a perfect medium to work with. In addition to the aesthetic side, there are a couple of other advantages to natural stone:

  • It’s tough and durable but it can also be cut and shaped to bring out the best of the stone surface.
  • It’s an environmentally friendly option, relative to man-made materials, and also looks more natural in your outdoor space.

If you want to make a visual impression in your garden or infuse a natural look to your garden walls, steps, stairways or walkways, natural stone is definitely worth considering.

Rocks And Boulders

Provided you have a decently sized yard, rocks and boulders can be the perfect way to add some natural dimension and texture to a design. It is possible to go too far, however, by adding pieces that are too large or don’t fit well within the design of your landscape, so this is an area where you’ll want the discerning eye of a professional landscaper.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before you go shopping for rocks for your landscape design:

  • Size matters — A small yard with several large boulders in a raised garden bed might look distinctly uncoordinated. Choose rocks that are proportionate to the size of your yard.
  • Type matters — Stick to one kind of natural stone, or at least pieces that go well together. One way to ensure that is to stick to stone that is local to your area. In Mississauga and southern Ontario, that includes Blue Mountain rock, Orillia Limestone, or pieces from quarries in Peterborough and Bobcaygeon. Another bonus is that local stone will be cheaper than imported rocks.
  • Placement — Consider whether the natural stone will stand out like a sore thumb in the place you want to put it, or if it will blend in and create a natural division? For example, if you have a terraced lawn, natural stone can create a beautiful cascading dividing wall between the two areas, accompanied by appropriate trees or foliage. Sticking a large boulder in the middle of a postage stamp sized yard? Maybe not.

If you’re building a rock garden, swale or some other way to redirect water on your property, river rocks are a great way to line a flowing riverbed, giving a natural appearance. One note about river rocks: Buy the from reputable retailer like Toemar. Never remove them from the side of your local riverbed. At Toemar, river rocks come in 3 sizes.

Flagstone

Cut and shaped to a specific use or used in its more natural shape, flagstone is a beautiful way to create walkways, pathways, entranceways and so on.

All of the areas of your garden that require a more structured and functional design can still be very elegant by using flagstone. Available in a range of colours, there is a flagstone to complement most any design, including Blue Ice, Slate Grey, Limestone Black and so on.

Preferred by many homeowners over interlocking concrete pavers, flagstone is durable and naturally slip resistant, making it a good option for outdoor use. You can choose irregularly cut stone, for a more random, natural look in your design, or tile flagstones, with uniform cut and design, for a more formal look.

Either way, a properly designed walkway or patio will have the beauty of natural stone, with a lot of other design features:

  • Unlike pavers, each stone will have unique attributes, which are gorgeous and add a richness to a design.
  • Flagstone is a very durable medium to work with that will add value to the space you create with it. By the same token, it requires very little in terms of maintenance.

Natural Stone Projects

In addition to the ideas mentioned above, natural stone is a perfect starting point for a variety of landscaping projects including:

  • Ponds and water features: a pond can only be enhanced by the use of natural stone, giving it the true look of being part of the landscape, not just added to it.
  • Fireplaces also look more integrated into the natural landscape, if they are created with natural stone.
  • Retaining walls and flower beds, while intended to create dividers and specific spaces, look more integrated with the natural environment when built with natural stone.

The visual appeal and elegance of natural stone is without compare and a worthwhile investment to create the garden of your dreams.

If you are looking for something more premium, consider Indiana Limestone to use as a natural stone. It’s been in use for more than 200+ years on various projects such as Royal York Hotel, Empire State Building, more recently the Royal Alberta Museum. With that being said, this product is also used for beautiful homes (inside and outside) or for individuals looking to achieve a very specific look in their landscaping project.

If you’re unsure what your want for your outdoor space, grab a coffee and pop by Toemar’s showroom (really, it’s a show-patio within our show-lot!). Wander the lot and take note of those materials that catch your eye. If you’re not sure where to start, one of our staff will be happy to walk you through the different options.

Come visit us.  We look forward to serving you.

Landscape Design Trends 2013

A well-designed landscape can be inspiring. It can provide a sense of calm, a sense of awe and a sense of balance. A beautiful landscape can also improve the curb appeal of your home.

Landscaping and gardening are also ideal outlets for your creativity. It is important to keep a few design elements in mind when planning your new landscape – unity, balance, simplicity, variety, focus and emphasis.

Here is a list of the landscape design trends of 2013 to help you out:

#1. Focus – Water Features:

Water features are once again very popular this year as it is creates a dramatic focal point, add ambiance and really transform your outdoor space into a tranquil environment. Whether it is a pond or a moving water feature, the sky is the limit! Many water feature kits are available to purchase and simple to install; and with your choice of lighting colours it is no wonder that homeowners are going crazy for waterfall kits in 2013!

landscaping-trend-focus

Landscaping Trend – Focus

#2. Emphasis – Dark and distinct borders:

Borders play a big role when it comes to great interlocking stone projects. The usage of dark distinctive borders helps define and highlight your landscape and is a prominent trend this season. This can be the difference between a mediocre and a fabulous design.

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Landscaping Trend – Emphasis

#3. Simplicity – Clean lines and simple patterns:

Lines are a powerful design element that define rooms and connect people to the landscape. The days of swooping lines and circles are considered out-dated; and a minimalist approach using clean lines and simple patterns are currently hot at the moment. Although not new to landscaping, simple patterns and a ‘less-is-more’ attitude can create a much bigger impact.

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Landscaping Trend – Simplicity

#4. Texture – Mixing it up:

When it comes to interlocking pavers there is an array of textures and designs to choose from. When creating a driveway, walkway or backyard patio consider changing up patterns with different textures as it can highlight key aspects of your area such as borders, accents, trees and flower beds.

landscaping-trend-texture

Landscaping Trend – Texture

#5. Unity and Balance – Creating harmony with concrete products and natural stone:

Breaking up a landscape with natural stone is great way to create the perfect balance in any yard. It is important to not over use any one type of material as this could lead to monotony. A yard that is purely concrete becomes over bearing and dry, and by incorporating natural stone in a variety of shapes and sizes, such as boulders and rock, to the landscape helps creates contrast and interest.

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Landscaping Trend – Unity and Balance

Sell your Home Faster: A Primer on Flagstone

Flagstone and Natural Stone Primer

Flagstone or Natural Stone can add character and charm to your landscaping that can be the envy of your neighbourhood. In fact, I’m 99.9% positive that you have at one time or another have seen or walked across a flagstone patio or walkway in Mississauga or any other place in Toronto.

In fact, some people may install flagstone for more selfish reasons. Re/max Agent Jennifer Lagtapon says that “if you want to sell your home faster, adding flagstone to your landscaping can only add to the curb appeal and make that first impression last”. She also told me that ‘curb appeal’ is something you need to focus in on, because buyers will form their strongest and most influential opinions before they even step out of the car.

Whether you want to sell your home or just make your house look great, here is a little primer on flagstone (aka natural stone).

Background on Flagstone or Natural Stone

Right now, the biggest trend in landscape design is the use of flagstone. It is a key component of nearly if not all luxury and/or upscale homes. In fact, increased competition and international trade has made flagstone an affordable product for all homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area. Flagstone in the GTA typically comes from Northern Ontario, but nowadays it could come as far away as India and China. Aside from new construction, using flagstone is also excellent way to face-lift any pre-existing concrete applications such as verandas, porches, walkways, entranceways, patios and steps.

Types

Although there are many types of flagstone in the marketplace, there typically two types that you will see in the Greater Toronto Area: Square Cut and Random Cut.

  • “Square Cut” flagstone is either composed of limestone, sandstone or granite. Sometimes, you will also find square cut flagstone imported from China and Turkey, but are still suitable to the Canadian climate. The stones are symmetrical in shape and produces a tile effect.
  • “Random Cut” flagstone has attributes that are associated with the area in which it was removed and as a result, the more specific or unique the stone is, the higher the cost of the flagstone. This is why most of “Random Cut” flagstone within the GTA is usually sourced out of Northern Ontario to help keep costs under control. The stones are asymmetrical shape and produces a natural and rustic look.
Square Cut Natural Stone
Random Cut Natural Stone

One other very important consideration is to look for the durability of the flagstone. Not all imported flagstone is meant to withstand the extremes of a Canadian weather and as a result, you may be disappointed by the time next season comes around.

Color

The various colors of flagstone is determined by the binding materials that are part of its natural formation and region. For example, if iron oxide is a dominant binding material, the flagstone will have a reddish tint. Some flagstone colors include black, white, brown, orange, red, gray and gold, and even lighter colors such as lavender and pink. To create a unique look, flagstone also gives you the option or choice to use uniformly colors or mix and match complementary colors.

Installation

Square Cut flagstone is meant to be installed onto an existing concrete structure such as a patio or stairs using mortar. The difficulty of the installation depends on a number of factors such as size of the flagstone, the pattern or design you want to create and even the number of stairs you need to build. It is similar to installing floor or wall tiles in your home. You will need spacers for joints, string lines and levels to create that perfect clean look. Square cut flagstone can also be installed on a gravel or limestone base in the same manner that you would install interlocking pavers. Unlike interlocking pavers, joint sizes can vary (1 cm, 2cm or 1/8 inch, ¼ inch, ½ inch) and will need to be filled in with a grout or mortar cement.
Random Cut flagstone with its ragged edges opens up the possibility of installing on nearly any surface such as pre-existing concrete, limestone or gravel base, and garden areas. Compared to square cut flagstone, installing random cut flagstone is a simpler task because absolute precision is not necessary. If you are installing on a gravel or limestone base, the base will need to be compacted just as if you were installing interlocking pavers. The space between the joints will be uneven and will have varying widths and these imperfections will give your space a rustic character. The joints for random cut flagstone can be not only be filled with mortar cement, but also with wide joint polymeric sand, soil, and decorative plants such as moss.

For even more information on flagstone, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Garden Landscaping Trends for 2012

Garden landscaping trends for 2012 are exciting and unique. We have selected three trends that we think are impactful and timeless. Read on below:

1. Interlocking Paver (Brick) borders and the usage of contrast:

 

Borders are a great way to liven up any Interlocking Paver (Brick) project – driveways, walkways or patios. Ultra Black is a popular colour as a border and can be found in our following lines: Adora, Strada, and Bellagio. The vivid tone of black provides a remarkable contrast against all colours.

 

2. Textured Pavers:

 

In recent years, Textured Pavers have become increasingly popular in providing a reasonable alternative to natural stone and impressed concrete. Moderna is an excellent example of a flagstone alternative due to its chiseled surface and irregular shape.

 

3. Incorporating Natural Stone with Concrete:

 

Natural Stone Tread Copings provide an excellent alternative to traditional concrete copings/caps for steps and retaining walls. Tread Copings come in 6ft lengths, which provides a complete look to most steps and retaining walls.