For many homeowners, the thought of creating a natural stone landscape design might be a bit intimidating. After all, they’re not stone masons! Well, the fact is with today’s advanced materials, any homeowner with a minimum of DIY experience can use natural stone products to create stunning additions to their outdoor space like walkways, patios fire pits and more!
With videos available on many of the home sites and prepackaged kits from outdoor supply company’s and manufacturers, building a stone fire pit or stacked stone wall is not very difficult, in fact it’s fun and gives you a great sense of accomplishment when complete!
Here are some tips for tackling that outdoor stone project this summer!
When working with natural stone the most crucial step in the process is preparation. Depending on your project, you need to take several factors into consideration before laying your first stone. The first step is clearly marking the area you’ll be working in. Drive in some stakes and using a line mark where your wall, patio or feature item will be built.
Once you’ve set your line you’ll need to prepare your site. Before you dig remember to call DIGSAFE and dig an area about six to eight inches deep and fill it with dense graded. Make sure to compact it well with a vibrating-plate compactor (available from a tool rental shop) or jumping jack, depending on the area of your project. Use one inch thick washed sand for bedding the natural stones, that will make it easier to level them in case they have different thickness. You want to create a base that is about 6-8″ deep and solidly compact.
You have the option of using special type of polymeric sand for natural stone that can be installed between the joints to help prevent weeds, ants and washouts.
Proper preparation will prevent future problems so don’t rush through this step!
Working with Natural Stone
No matter what species of stone you’re working with, the foundation is the key. Once you’ve properly prepared your surface it’s time to begin working with your stone. Here’s are some tips:
- Learn a little about the type of stone you’re working with. Each stone will have distinctive characteristics, for example, if you’re planning on creating a limestone patio, make sure you use limestone with an ASTM International rating of Type III. This is durable material graded for outdoor use.
- Understand the properties of the stone you are working with to prevent problems during and after installation. For example, granite doesn’t scratch as easily as marble, brick won’t react to acid, but limestone will, so don’t use an acid based cleaner on limestone.
- Always start by cleaning your material with simple soap and water. Don’t use a pressure sprayer, it can damage the stone.
- Using a high-quality sealer can go far in protecting some stones and can also enhance their natural color.
- If working with an absorbent stone like limestone, for example as a countertop in your outdoor kitchen area, it might be good to use a sealer that goes into the stone and doesn’t allow moisture to absorb into it.
If You’re Not Sure, Ask!
Here at Old Station Outdoor & Landscape Supply, we’re always here to answer any questions you might have and offer you tips on working with our stone products. Whether you’re laying a patio or building a fire pit, if you’re not sure, just ask! We’re happy to offer you information and direction to help you with your project, from choosing the best materials for a task, to helping you understand the best way to work with materials!