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Dry Stack Walls are usually defined as walls that are built without mortar. This is a very old technique that has its roots in the simple retention of soil. While it is a basic simple and cost effective method of wall construction, it can also be effective as a landscape design statement. Now that we have said that, let’s revisit what Kelly Roberson and BHG.com suggests for ten ways to cleverly use dry stacked walls in your landscaping and hardscaping plans. Here are the last five.

Deliver a focal point. As per Kelly, “a dry stack border is an excellent way to give a flower bed some presence and make it a focal point”. Take a look below!

via BHG.com

via BHG.com

Create a long lasting hardscape bench that is both a functional and featured element in the space, as indicated below.

via BHG.com

via BHG.com

The versatility of dry stacked gives you the ability to border a garden  in a simple and easy fashion, once again below via BHG.com.

via BHG.com

via BHG.com

In conclusion, two more thoughts are to use these versatile walls to liven up small garden settings and to produce formal walls using very large pieces of stone. As always, thanks for reading!

Dry Stack Walls

Dry Stack Walls are generally defined as walls that are built without mortar. This is an ancient technique that has its roots in the necessity to retain soil. While it is a very simple and cost effective method of wall construction, it can also be effective as a landscape design statement. Now that we have said that, let’s pay attention to what Kelly Roberson and BHG.com suggests for ten ways to cleverly use dry stacked walls in your landscaping and hardscaping plans.

Create or enhance a cottage style by allowing these type of walls to “frame” or hold flowers and plants in place in a casual fashion as shown below.

via BHG.com

via BHG.com

To provide au natural seating on a property, dry stack walls can be a perfect solution, again as shown below via BHG.com.

via BHG.com

via BHG.com

Edge a water feature by using a simple dry stack wall or, as shown below, support a terraced area.

Brauer limestone

Brauer limestone

Lastly, in this first five suggestions, is to make use of the mid sized nature of these type of stone walls to ease the transition from gardens to grasses. Stay timed for five more ideas next week.

How to Build a Stone Wall

How to Build a Stone Wall, Part Two

A freestanding mortared fieldstone wall blends strength with the natural look of a dry stack

By ROGER COOK, THIS OLD HOUSE MAGAZINE

THIS IS PART TWO – TO SEE PART ONE CLICK HERE 

Introduction

Stone walls are a handsome way to define and improve your property. Building them is backbreaking work, but if done correctly, the wall will last a lifetime, if not a lot longer. I like to set stones in mortar because you can’t beat a mortared wall for strength, which is important if a wall serves as seating or holds back earth. To preserve a dry-laid look, I set the stones in a mortar that’s pigmented a dark gray and then rake the joints clean. Freestanding mortared walls, like the fieldstone one I’m building here, need a stable, frost-proof footing to prevent shifting, and that requires a lot of digging in cold climates. Ask a stone yard to help determine how much material you’ll need, and have it delivered as close to the site as possible. Once built, you’ll have a rock-solid wall without all the heavy mortar lines.

parts 1-3 are HERE 

Step 4: Mark The Stones to Cut

Eventually, you’ll have to cut a stone to make it fit. Use a wax pencil to mark the sections of the stone you want to remove. (For this wall, the goal is to keep the joints tight, less than 1 ½ inches wide.) To make cuts, you’ll need a 3-inch carbide chisel, a 3-pound hand sledge, and safety glasses.

04-wall 5

Step 5: Cut the Stone

Place the marked stone on the ground, waste-side down. Set the chisel’s carbide tip on the wax-pencil line, and aim it slightly downward. Strike the chisel once, then reposition it so that the blade is half on the score you just made and half on fresh stone. Strike it again and repeat until the waste pops off.

05-wall 6

Step 6: Tool The Joints

Trowel the joints between the capstones with a brick jointer, making them slightly concave to channel away water. On hot, dry, or windy days, mist the wall with water as you work so that the mortar cures slowly and completely. Finish by applying a wedge of concrete along the base course, front and back, to keep the wall from shifting. Use a brick trowel to make each wedge 6 inches high and 12 inches wide. Hide them with backfill.

06-wall 7 

Thanks again to This Old House and thanks for reading!

charcoal Brauer

The history and continuing evolution of stone walls in landscaping, hardscaping and otherwise is almost as long as the history and evolution of man. One of the best known examples is the construction of the Great Wall of China, which was designed and built as the Northern defensive perimeter of ancient China. After that quick history data point for reference, let’s begin with Stone Walls in Texas Limestone, Part Two.

Stone Walls in Texas Limestone, Part Two

Moving on to more modern applications, the stone walls of today serve a very significant purpose in the areas of landscape and hardscape design. In exploring current design trends in this area, let’s turn to one of the experts.

Jeff Stafford of HGTV.com has a few suggestions about designing a great garden wall. One of his ideas is to add “intrigue and dimension” to your landscape design through the placement of a complementary stone wall, or a screen.

For example, Mr. Stafford suggests forming a stone archway over a garden entrance, calling these types of landscape and garden designs “Abbey Inspired”. He explains that this is a type of “powerful” element that can create a sense of balance between all of the shapes present. The rounded form of the curved archway adds a level of softness when placed next to harder, more angular shapes which are commonly found in house and garden structures.

Another idea suggested by Mr. Stafford, is to create a textured effect on a low retaining wall. Texas limestone is an excellent material for this type of textured stone wall design. More than just pretty to look at, a low retaining wall may serve the purpose of leveling a steep slope or enclosing a selected area.

baruer wall good

In conclusion, here are two elements to think about when designing a stone wall: form and texture. You may decide to complement your garden with an arch form, or perhaps you would enjoy the form and usefulness of a low retaining wall. In either case, don’t forget about texture. Texture adds character to the overall design, such as in the case of keeping a natural, rough appearance with the use of Texas limestone. Combine these two elements in your stone wall construction and successfully create a look which is both visually appealing and is designed to stand the test of time.

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit. Please contact us at info@bstoneandtile.com for more information on Texas limestone walls.

 

summer landscaping trends 2014.

In the wake of the Great Recession, there appears to be an evolving trend in home ownership. Simply put, more folks are staying in their homes. As a consequence, landscaping plans are reflecting the lifestyles of the homeowners more than what might be good from a resale point of view. This is reflected in Summer Landscaping Trends 2014.

Mr. Jeff Stafford does a great job in discussing landscape trends for HGTVgardens.com. He confirms that “homeowners used to adapt their landscaping design to what they thought a future buyer might want. But with more home owners staying put, these days landscape designers say that homeowners are instead adapting their yards and gardens to suit their own needs”. With that said, here are a few ideas.

Low Upkeep Landscaping – Again from Mr. Stafford, “Aiming to spend less money, less time and reduce the use of fertilizers and weed killers, homeowners are choosing lower-maintenance grasses”.

Inside is Extended Outside – More and more people are extending interior functionality outdoors in the form of full kitchens, BBQ pits, fireplaces, flat screen TVs, refrigerators and more.

Real Gardens – Let’s grow it ourselves and eat it ourselves. Why not? Even if it is only just herbs, folks are taking the “grow local, eat local” idea to heart in their own outdoor spaces.

Natural Play Spaces for the Children – Once more from Mr. Stafford, “the temporary swing sets, trampolines and plastic kiddie pools that once defined the kid’s zone section of the yard are being transformed into something far more beautiful and long-lasting. Parents are creating exploratory spaces, mini-forests and woodlands where nature—not a plastic slide—provides the play”. 

As we complete this post, and as always, we appreciate your reading. Our sister company, Materials Marketing, has many showrooms around the US where A.J. Brauer limestone products are available for your review. Bye for now.

Stone wall2

The history and the evolution of stone walls is lengthy and quite complex. One ancient methodology that is interesting for us today is the art of dry stacking stones to create stone walls. In this way, fascinating works of art can be be created without the need for mortar to hold them together. So let’s begin with Stone Walls in Texas Limestone, Part One

When stones are dry stacked, they become stable because of the unique way in which they are “layed up” by the stone mason. This allows dry-stacked stone structures to have  load-bearing qualities due to the careful selection of the interlocking stones. For example, Muchall’s Castle in Scotland , as shown below, dates back to the 17th century and exemplifies strength of character due to the undeniable nature of its permanence and stability.

Stone Walls in Texas Limestone, Part One

There is one common element whether you choose a dry-stacked stone wall or one with mortar or even a stone veneer. This is that the addition of a stone wall adds lasting value to a home. You should also be aware that stone walls are currently a popular design trend. Joanne Greco Rochman of The Home Monthly.com explains. “Stone walls are now quite the rage. The current trend with stone walls is due to aesthetics and value, as well as providing a sense of permanence, rather that serving as a property divider.”

Adding a stone wall to your home will create a lasting natural element.  A touch of old world royalty and stability can be yours with the addition of a stone wall. Designer Benjamin Voght outlines the evolution of American landscape in his work entitled, “The Case for Losing the Traditional Lawn.” He says, “Lawns are literally a noble’s ideal. Since the 1800’s Americans have been trying to emulate expansive aristocratic estates in Europe on quarter-acre lots. What’s the deal with the lawn, and why should we lose some of it?”

Austin-WHite-1024x428

As radical as his statement may seem, Voght expresses a simple and valid concept. Instead of mowing square after square of grass, why not break things up a bit by creating an outdoor setting that is more natural and organic-looking? In conclusion, an element such as a Texas limestone wall may be effectively used both as an interesting terracing feature and as a main point of interest in a non-traditional landscape.

As always, thanks for reading. Please contact us at info@bstoneandtile.com for more information on Texas limestone walls.

 

 

AJ Brauer Stone

The American Society of Landscape Architects, the premier professional organization in the field, recently released the results of its 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. According to their website, “consumer demand remains strong for attractively designed residential landscapes that are perfect for entertaining and relaxing.The survey also shows continuing popularity for both sustainable and low-maintenance design”. At A.J. Brauer, we recognize how important professional landscape thought is to our business. So let’s take a minute to go through a few parts of the survey and how we can help.

Seating and Dining Areas – Clients want to live in the outside spaces more than just walk through them.

Lighting – Again, part of living in the outside is seeing in the outside.

Recreational Areas – The pool. Of course the pool but also water features of all types.

Working Gardens – Growing fruits and vegetable for family consumption is a keen interest.

Lush Landscaping – The density of arrangement and the complexity of plantings are distinguishing modern landscaping. Lush landscaping2

Fire Pits – This is no surprise to us as this has been a consistent client desire for a while now.

Cool Firepit

Outdoor Cooking – Beyond the grills are the glorious almost full outdoor kitchens.

As we complete this post, we would like to thank the American Society of Landscape Architects for the fine work done in the completion of this survey. As always, we appreciate your reading. Our sister company, Materials Marketing, has many showrooms around the US where A.J. Brauer limestone products are available for your perusal. Bye for now!

Spring is Sprung

Spring is about to be sprung for 2014. Although, the legendary Punxsutawney Phil did indeed see his shadow thereby indicating a slightly longer winter, the seasons still march on. As we thaw out, more and more time and attention will be spent on our outdoor spaces. In a real sense your yard area is the natural extension of your home. Whether that means drinks and reading, kids in the pool or some serious barbecue efforts the American persona is exemplified in these activities. In preparation for the coming season here are three outdoor stone design tips. 

A Stone Pool Deck- Add a lot of usability and increase resale value by adding a limestone deck around an existing pool. A simple concrete slab poured around the pool will allow stone pavers to be easily installed. Slightly thicker stone can also be set in sand around the pool as an alternative method.

A Fire Pit- Take the chill out of the air when the sun goes down by adding a fire pit. Face it with a thin veneer of Texas limestone. Then finish the top area with cut to size limestone slabs, not only will you be able to stay cozy and warm but the fire pit can double as a cook fire for marshmallows and small meats.

A Stone Path- Simple as it may seem a nicely done stone path will organize and accent your outdoor space. Two easy methods for making this happen have been described before in the section regarding a stone pool deck. Either pour a concrete slab and put thin limestone pavers on top of that or set thick pavers in a sand bed. Both will work!

So there are three outdoor stone design tips. By the way, if you have resale of your home in mind, none other than Bob Vila said that “good landscape design can add up to 20% of value to your home”. In closing, our sister company Materials Marketing has ten showrooms  across the country. Each staff in every showroom will be happy to help you with Texas limestone from the A.J. Brauer quarry. As always, thanks very much for reading.

AJ Brauer Limestone

Whether you have one acre or ten acres, the outside of your home is just as important as the inside. People spend serious amounts of time, effort, and money on improving their landscaping. Gardens with limestone landscaping are a fine method of improving your property. There are lots of ways to go about using it. Let’s look at a few of them.

A major benefit of using limestone is that it lasts. Even treated or painted wood will eventually begin to decay, but limestone stands up over time. Limestone landscape designs work well with any type of home or property and are sure to impress friends and family.

If you’re still not convinced, here are a few ideas that can help you use limestone in your garden. Whether you’re growing a vegetable garden or planning a backyard retreat filled with natural beauty, limestone could be the answer for you.

  • A center-piece type feature made of limestone is sure to engage anyone walking through your garden. Outdoor limestone fire pits can provide a place for summer or fall gatherings, with friends and family alike enjoying the warmth of the outdoor fire. Waterfalls made from limestone add ambiance and a limestone patio will add something extra to every garden.
  • Walkways are often overlooked when designing a garden. Limestone pathways are easy to maintain, create correct waypoints through your garden, and can help it feel more personal.
  • Design features such as walls and columns can help complete the overall look and feel of a garden. Be they small or large, they will add that little extra something.
  • Backyard gardeners wishing to grow flowers, fruits, or vegetables often rely on raised beds. By using limestone to build and contain these raised beds, they’ll look even more impressive and work just the way that they should.

AJ Brauer Limestone Garden

 

Limestone offers something for everyone. If you are hoping to transform your garden into something truly special, it’s worth considering limestone landscaping. Since each project can be tailored to fit your needs and your budget, it’s easier than you might realize to start making some really impressive changes to your landscaping that will last forever.

Our sister company Materials Marketing, has  ten showrooms across the country. Each staff in every showroom will be happy to help you with Texas limestone from the A.J. Brauer quarry. As always, thanks very much for reading.