Sustainable style

Customers often ask us for imaginative ideas that are as earth-friendly as they are beautiful. At Stone Center, we fully support the growing trend toward sustainable outdoor living – designing backyards and other areas that protect the environment and work hand-in-hand with Mother Nature. That means choosing materials and surfaces that let water seep into the ground, facilitating filtration and slowing the flow into drains and waterways.

Sustainable landscaping and hardscaping products are eco-approved and cut down on the need for pesticides and watering. In addition to helping the planet, sustainability can be very cost-effective, too, since they require minimal resources, like fertilizer, gasoline and time. And they add a softer, more artistic touch to your overall esthetic.

Here are some beautiful ways to go green with a conscience, courtesy of the Stone Center outdoor living experts:

Permeable pavers – Add some big-time impact without adversely impacting the environment. Today’s permeable pavers are just gorgeous, boasting a full array of shapes and shades for every taste and every venue, from residential to commercial. These hard-working beauties can also control erosion, decrease stormwater runoff and even reduce dangerous ice accumulation. Want more good news? The EPA gave its official nod of approval to permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) as a best management practice.

We’re hopelessly obsessed with EP Henry’s brand-new ECO Bristol Stone pavers, brilliantly manufactured with next-generation Solidia cement which stands up to the elements, practically eliminates efflorescence and reduces concrete’s carbon footprint by up to 70%.

Pea gravel – Small but mighty, pea gravel really pulls its weight when it comes to environmental responsibility by improving drainage and preventing erosion. Natural, weathered and smooth, these small stones are usually found near bodies of water and come in sizes from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch.

Pea gravel is wonderfully versatile, available in a broad range of earthy colors including buff, rust, brown, gray and white. It’s simple to install and economical, fighting off mud and weeds on your garden path, accenting a vegetable garden or abutting mulch. Our customers love the tidy look, carefree maintenance and, most of all, that one-of-a-kind crunchy sound under your footsteps. (Another added plus – rodents and critters can’t dig through pea gravel.)

Plantings and pollinators – In addition to sustainable products, there are lots of other useful ways to keep Mother Earth viable and vibrant right in your own backyard. Consider planting a magnificent wildflower meadow, using native, low-water florals and hardy ground cover. These delightful gems are the ideal complement to traditional plantings and landscaping.

Clear some space and transform your property with low-maintenance, colorful mixtures of native wildflower varieties, like Roanoke bells, coltsfoot, wood poppy, star chickweed, hepatica and walking fern. These darlings work with nature, not against it, eschew harsh pesticides and demand less watering. They beautify your surroundings without a lot of fuss and thrive in local weather conditions. You can also add an edible garden to your life, utilizing heirloom vegetable and culinary herb seeds rather than hybrids. The result? A welcoming habitat for birds, butterflies and bees seeking nectar and a comfy place to land.

Saving resources – After you’ve created your sustainable outdoor retreat, be sure to maintain it without disturbing the planet. Use only organic food and fertilizer for your traditional plants that need it – chemicals and sprays pollute the air and degrade soil quality. Ask your landscaper and exterminator about Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a holistic way to garden that encourages natural pest predators, like ladybugs, spiders and praying mantis. You might also consider composting.

Conserving water also goes a long way to help the world. Collect roof run off in a rain barrel and be sure to water your plants early in the morning, aiming for the roots. Finally, try to use hand tools (think pruning shears instead of electric clippers), invest in hybrid gardening equipment, investigate alternative fuel sources and talk to your landscape maintenance professional about sustainability.