The Art of Stone

The construction site in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The construction site (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

One of the first things I did when my family moved into our home over twenty years ago was to focus on the exterior.  Even then I had a great desire to integrate our home into the surrounding landscape by adding beautiful trees and shrubs.  I wanted a close connection with nature; to embrace the local fauna by providing an inviting habitat for them to thrive in. The outside environment was far more important (than the inside) to me then, and as we rebuild the focus once again remains on making the property welcoming to our furry and feathered neighbors.  It’s not an easy feat on a construction site! However, with some ingenuity and flexibility you can get the job done . . .

The front porch in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

An inviting front porch (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

A key part of tying a New England home to its natural surroundings is by incorporating stone.  We had stone walkways and raised stone beds installed years before the fire, and it was very important to retain as much of the feel of the old landscape as possible during the rebuild.  Once the original foundation was removed we did our best to salvage what material we could, knowing that a lot would need to be replaced to recreate the hardscape we once had.  This demolition offered an opportunity to rethink the overall garden design and how I could once again use the stone to enhance our home, gardens and property.  I could create formal and informal elements simply by choosing formal and informal stones, and I ended up blended both forms into our re-design.

Front stone wall with plantings in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Front stone wall with plantings (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Using local stone is advantageous for both aesthetics and cost, and I was able to do this throughout all the projects. From the bluestone for the patio and steps to the granite for the walkway and dry stone walls, all materials were sourced locally.  The granite stones came from a local quarry in Roxbury, Connecticut, with the furthest products coming from New York and Vermont. The added materials blended wonderfully with the salvaged stones, and all this was accomplished by keeping products as local as possible.

Rear patio with mix of stone types in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Rear patio with mix of local stone (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Our home originally had a deck made with Brazilian ipe wood, which was very beautiful and durable, but required yearly cleaning and oiling. In an effort to reduce maintenance (and remove flammable structures), we replaced our wooden deck with a patio faced in New York wall stone and used New York bluestone on the surface and steps.  Our raised stone beds at the front of the house were rebuilt using local Roxbury granite, which was mixed with some of the original wall stones.

Front walkway in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Front walkway has formal and informal elements (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Since the front door was relocated, I redesigned the walkway to come up from the driveway and wind through the remaining (and newly planted) gardens to the front door.  I chose cut granite to define each step’s elevation, then toned down the formality by using rough stone for the actual walkway.  To tie in the blue stone used in the rear patio and steps, I used blue stone for the initial steps from the driveway, on the front porch steps and landing.

Front of house in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Front of house (Photo by: Kathy Diemer )

With each project’s completion, I installed plants and shrubs that will eventually fill their spaces and trail over the walkways creating the feeling that the garden was always this way . . .  that this tragedy never happened.  And in the meantime, I’m learning and exploring and sharing ideas that will help you, my dear readers, as you look to design a new space or revamp an old one using stone elements ♥


  1. Patty Wahlers says:

    Beautiful stone for a beautiful new house- a new Beginning!

  2. Hey hon, The pictures are gorgeous. What a beautiful and courageous posting of your home and exterior. Everything is just beautiful! Love,

  3. It all looks beautiful! It’s nice that you can use local stone. It looks like you use a variety of evergreen shrubs near your house. Are these dwarf shrubs or will you keep them pruned to about their current size? I would be very interested in what specific shrubs are in the front stone wall area. They look great!

    • Hi Karen, To answer your question: The shrubs in the front stone bed are (Left to right) Hinoki Cypress, Japanese Cedar ‘Little Champion’, Rhododendron ‘Purpureum Elegans’ and Fernspray Cypess. Most are dwarf or slow growers that I will keep pruned down once they fill in. Along the walkway are a series of dwarf conifers: Norway Spruce ‘Lanham Beehive’, Juniper ‘Mother Lode’, and Common Juniper ‘Corielagen’. I love using evergreens as they provide habitat for critters, are easy to care for and look good all year long. Thank you for writing!

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