Picking the Right Stone for your Landscape Project

With the technology we have today it is easy to discover cool and interesting ways to landscape your yard. But just as you have been hearing ‘buy local’ for produce the same is true for stone. Each region of our country has rocks that are unique and plentiful. When starting out your landscaping projects, it is best to keep in mind that a stone that is not natural to the area will cost more and have a higher economical impact to bring to the area. You also want to remember a stone that is unnatural to the area could potentially look unnatural in your yard. If you want to stay within a budget then you want to stick with local stones. 

A quick look into the different regions of the U.S. will help explain why there are different colored stones and why they are more plentiful in certain areas. Certain colored stones come from specific areas due to the mineral deposits in the earth as the stones are forming. 

The Southwest is known for red colored stones due to the iron deposits in the earth. Same with Pennsylvania blue stone, due to the mineral deposits in the earth when the stone is formed it gives the stone a silvery blue color, and just as the name implies the stone comes from Pennsylvania and New York. 

The Midwest is known for limestone and granites. Most of the colors you will find in the area come a variety of gray tones. Granite stone (also known as Wisconsin Granite) can have a little bit more variety with reds, pinks and purple tones. Occasionally a vein of limestone is formed with minerals causing it to be more yellow/tan in color, these are not as common as the gray tones, but can be found in the area.

Flagstone

Flagstone, or steppers, comes in multiple types of stones. They range from 1”-2.5” in depth and are irregularly shaped. The most common flagstone in the area is the Fond Du Lac limestone, which is gray in color and comes from Fond du Lac, WI.

Here is a Fond du Lac flagstone path. There is a slight variation in gray tone between each piece. Paths like this are beautiful but require quite a bit of manual labor to install and need upkeep over the years to keep the weeds out from between the joints. 

Looking for some color, but still on a budget? You can use the limestone for the majority of your path and use a few pieces of a different type of flagstone to create some interest and color variation without breaking the bank. 

Desert flagstone    
Lilac Flagstone
Blue Flagstone
Chilton Flagstone

Outcropping

Outcropping stones are just what the name implies, it is the outermost (outcrop) layer of stone. The quarries break chunks off at a time, creating large and irregular shaped pieces of stone.

Sandy Riverbed Outcropping
Northern Rustic Outcropping
Fond Du Lac Limestone Outcropping

Cut Drywall

Cut drywall are cut pieces of stone, usually ranging in 4”-6” in depth. These stones have a more uniform shape and are great for creating walls.

Fond Du Lac Limestone Cut Drywall
Northern Rustic Cut Drywall

Washed Stone/Riverbed Stone

For drainage in an area it’s best to use a river bed, or washed stone. These stones will not compact and will allow the water to run without washing away. They are mostly gray with some darker blue hues and red/brown tones mixed in.

Cobblestone

Wisconsin granite cobblestones can come in a variety of sizes. They are great for lining gardens. Larger stones can be used as decoration, or to create walls. Keep in mind the larger the stones the heavier it is. Heavier stones are more costly and harder to move. 

Whatever your preference or need, always remember to try and “buy local”!


What is Organic Topsoil?

We get asked this question a lot. The answer is complex.

Topsoil is the upper 2-8 inch layer of soil. It is a mixture of organic material and minerals. This is the layer of soil where most of the nutrients for plants are found.

Organic simply means without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage, genetically modified ingredients or ionized radiation.

Certified Organic means no pesticides, etc. have been applied for 3 years.

So topsoil by nature is organic. But it may or may not be pesticide free, if pesticides have been applied.

If you are looking for pesticide free topsoil you need to find a supplier that knows if pesticides have been applied and has the certificate to proof it. That can be very difficult and expensive. Most topsoil is stripped from farm fields and most likely has had pesticides applied to it.

It is a myth to believe that topsoil has to be very black to be good. The black portion of the soil is the organic material that is decomposing. If it is too black there may be too much organic material and that would be considered compost. The other portion of the soil is the minerals. So it may be good soil and not deep black.

Also a myth is that good topsoil does not contain weed seeds. All topsoil contains weed seeds. There is no way to remove them. If you heat the soil up it will kill the weed seeds but it will also kill all the valuable microorganisms in the soil.

Generally it is a good idea to mix the new topsoil with your existing soil. This will create a natural way for water to drain and moisture to percolate up.

It takes Mother Nature 500 years to produce 1” of topsoil. We believe that makes topsoil worth it’s weight in gold.


Instructions for Your New Sod

Before Sodding

  • Measure length x width of area then divide by 10 (sod rolls are generally 10 square feet, 2’ x 5’). Order extra if there will be some waste from cutting.
  • All old turf and excess debris must be removed.
  • Turn the soil to a depth of about 4 inches. You can use a spade, plow or rototiller.
  • Grade the area, either by power equipment or by hand raking.
  • Fill the low areas with topsoil. It’s best to have gradual contour. Grade should be about 1 inch below sidewalks to allow for thickness of the sod.
  • Apply a starter fertilizer to the soil. A 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 mix.

 

 

Sod Installation

  • Sod must be laid immediately upon arrival.
  • Start at the property line or along the driveway or sidewalk.
  • Roll it out and stagger the joints like rows of bricks. Make sure the joints are butted together not overlapping. You can cut the sod with a serrated knife.
  • You can roll the lawn with a light roller before you water. Never roll after watering.
  • Water the sod immediately after installation with a penetration of about 6 inches. Sod must be kept watered until fully rooted. DO NOT LET IT DRY OUT.

 

Sod Maintenance

  • Watering
    Water once per week after sod has fully rooted. Do not give frequent light sprinkles as this will lead to shallow root growth.
  • Mowing
    Mowing can be done after the roots have taken. For best results, never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. Keep the grass blade height to 2”- 2 ½”. Make sure the mower blades are sharp. During faster growing periods you may need to increase the frequency of your mowing.
  • Feeding
    To insure that the turf stays healthy you must feed with a high quality fertilizer every 6 weeks. Follow manufacturer’s directions.


Edible Gardens

One of the hot new trends in landscaping is edible gardens. Not only will you save money on your grocery bill but your family will have fun gardening together. An added bonus is that you can feed your family pesticide free fruits, vegetables and herbs.

All that’s needed is a small plot of land in a sunny location, just till and plant. You  can also opt for building raised planter boxes, or even easier, plant in containers on the deck or patio. Make sure to add a nutrient enriched compost such as mushroom or leaf compost. This gives your soil an added “boost” without adding chemicals.

 

You can start seeds indoors early in the spring, then   you’ll have a head start when your ready to plant outdoors. Heirloom seeds are becoming more widely available too.

If you have any questions, give us a call and we can offer suggestions and pointers.

We can even deliver Mushroom Compost, Leaf Compost or a Blended Garden Mix.


Benefits of Mulching

Sharing with you the benefits of mulching this season!

  • Holds moisture in the soil
  • Reduces the need to water
  • Adds organic matter to the soil
  • Loosens hard soils
  • Improves drainage of the soil
  • Protects the soil from erosion
  • Speeds the soil warmup in the spring
  • Provides winter root protection
  • Smothers out weeds
  • Makes weeds easier to pull
  • Attractive cover for beds
  • Adds a pleasant aroma to the garden
  • Lightweight and easy to spread