Custom Stone Work in Austin Texas
Looking for some custom stone work or a new patio, fire pit or outdoor kitchen? There are many beautiful options to choose from but before you go with the “best deal” for your hardscape installation, remember that sometimes it is no deal at all. Stone work is an art form that requires proper construction to serve you well. There are also design aspects that can really ruin an otherwise great landscape. One of my least favorite stone additions is a tree ring that is too tall for the tree. I have replaced, repaired and hauled away many an expensive mistake made by not so qualified stone workers who knew how to mix mortar and not much more.
Tree wells are popular though I am unsure why some people stack the stone 3 stones high building a shrine instead of a tree well. Many trees such as Oaks do not like that kind of weight on the foot of its trunk. Notice how the high the soil is as well? This means that the tree is grossly over mulched leaving the tree vulnerable to infestation and fungal problems.
Here is an example of an appropriate sized ring with a concrete footer.
Some really important key elements when building a stone wall, patio or raised beds are to be sure to make the wall level, leave weep holes for drainage so your bed does not become a swimming pool with dirt in it. Weep holes should be made from spacing the bricks 1/2 ” apart throughout the base of the bed in small rings, to adding a minimum of 3/4″ PVC in larger beds and french drains with 4″ corrugated pipe in retainer walls and terracing. You also want to be sure to add a sleeve for irrigation or electrical wiring for later use so all your good work does not have to be undone.
Stone breaks from the heaving of tree roots which is a result of building in an inappropriate proximity to trees, of course when it is built improperly due to the lack of materials like re-bar when it is needed, the result can be disastrous.
In this terracing job we built “level” concrete footers that are steel reinforced to support the weight of the walls and stone.
Pavers need a tamped down surface of road base beneath them to remain level over time. The proper installation will assure the home owner of years and years of enjoyment.
Stone selection for patios and fire pits range wildly and the look of the stone can create a really fabulous space to entertain. This stone is still wet so it does not reflect the amount of variation in color, but remember that just like fabric, stone comes in various shades which vary from pallet to pallet. If you are installing a large project with several tons of stone, buy all the stone at the same time. Newly cut stone may not be in the same colors later on. Oklahoma stone (shown above) range from buff, to peach, to chocolate or blues and greys and most stone yards may call it something different so be sure to bring samples when shopping. There are many types of stones to choose from but some will require maintenance and some will not. The harder the stone the less “chipping” you will have, raw (bumpy) limestone can flake and change colors over time, but cut limestone can turn green from mildew if it is not sealed properly when installed. No matter your choice there is a certain level of expectation that must be managed during your installation to insure your over all happiness. You do not want someone selling you an expensive stone that requires a level of care you are not prepared to perform. The interior of a fire pit must be fireproof stone or brick to avoid breakage.
From a design standpoint combining types of stone and pavers can be beautiful and inviting, but be careful not to go too overboard on your choices. I say more than 3 finishes or color is too many. If the stone on your house is white limestone then obviously you can use that same stone with two additional accents rather it be stone or painted accents, however, white stone borders in a red brick house…not so much. If you are using white stone against such a conflicting color, be sure to add in some the brick in the way of a cap or detail. conflicting color, be sure to add in some of the red brick in the way of a cap or detail. For example you could use the white stone on raised beds and the red brick in a sidewalk or combination patio. However you choose, create continuity throughout the space so the over all plan looks thought out.
Here are some more examples of our work;
Raised beds must have concrete footers to be level and last for the long haul with central Texas weather extremes.
Pergola’s provide shade and style and much like well-built stone work, they also increase the value of your home.
Water features add beautiful sound and encourage wildlife. Much like a lush landscape, they can be very therapeutic.
Fire pits should be placed away from the house so you invite your family and guests to spend time in a different location from the typical seating area which makes the space feel larger and obviously more functional.
Be sure to use a quality soil in your raised beds. NEVER use sandy loam. You can use chocolate loam but my favorite is a planters mix that includes a small amount of loam, compost and top soil. It is very pricey though so for really large projects, stick with the chocolate loam and amend the top with compost every spring and mulch every fall.
Hardscapes are a beautiful enhancement to your property or to your Xeriscape garden when designed and installed properly. For more information on a patio, raised beds, fireplace, fire pit or outdoor kitchen of your dreams, contact us at 512-733-7777 for a free estimate. We will customize the right look with the features and functionality that make your outdoors a place to entertain and create memories for many years to come.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (“like” me on facebook)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”
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