Choosing Permeable Hardscapes to Smooth out the Rough Edges of our Garden

Hardscapes and greenery: the perfect union of beauty and utility

Credit: Carol Pope

Bricks and “bones”

This is a year of bricks and “bones” in our garden. While our raised beds are jammed with veggie seedlings, the rest of our yard clearly needs some bones, so we are adding rock walls, shovelling gravel onto walkways, and we just finished laying what we felt was ecologically the best choice for a driveway: crushed and compressed limestone from a local source.

Hardscape solutions

A series of hardscapes: large stones rimmed with creeping woolly thyme and Corsican mint lead to a half-inch torpedo-gravel walkway and then to our “patio for two,” easily created from cement tiles.

Gravel walkways

A gravel walkway is a quick grassless solution to accessing the yard. The curves give it a softer, interesting effect. Initially we tried to create the edges using thin strips of cedar, however they didn’t cooperate on the curves so instead we purchased Snapedge, a Canadian product. Snipping it every few inches, we managed to bend it as we had hoped; then it was nailed into the ground using eight-inch galvanized spikes. Eventually the exposed soil bordering the pathway will be covered by a container garden hosting edibles and pollinating flowers. Unwelcome weed seedlings will be sprayed with a dash of vinegar to keep them in check.

Torpedo gravel

Torpedo gravel meets stone steps leading into the greenhouse. The objective was to be able to walk from the kitchen to the greenhouse or kitchen garden in pajamas and slippers for pickings for a morning omelette!

Rock walls

The water-permeable limestone driveway butts against a series of walls made from local rock. Much to my delight, slug-devouring lizards and snakes love to hang out between the big boulders.

Patio for two

With just 14 cement tiles, we created a nook on the east side of the house where we could catch some sunshine over morning coffee.

Stone-slab staircase

Torpedo gravel leads to a staircase fashioned from slabs of stone purchased from Northwest Landscape & Stone Supply.

Greening the edges

We’re still planting up new beds that edge the water-permeable driveway made from compressed local limestone. A simple theme of Spanish lavender will predominate in this sunny, deer-trodden strip.

New plant beds

It’s hard to look elegant lugging rocks in the rain! But the good news is that this cool spring season is perfect for heavy outdoor jobs and for planting up new beds.