Tips to seamlessly mesh your hardscape and water feature project together

June 15, 2022 -  By
Stone Centers located across the U.S. and Canada help SiteOne Landscape Supply customers avoid long hauling trips for hardscape materials. (Photo: SiteOne Landscape Supply)

Stone Centers located across the U.S. and Canada help SiteOne Landscape Supply customers avoid long hauling trips for hardscape materials. (Photo: SiteOne Landscape Supply)

The wrong stone installed on a water feature can doom a project. Experts who shared thoughts with LM all agree that knowing your land and climate before installation is key.

“You want to consider the end result first and work your way backwards from there,” says Chris Noone, SiteOne Landscape Supply, senior director of category management for hardscapes. “These projects tend to really mimic time. You have to think about multilayering the stone. Is your site in freeze-thaw conditions where the water freezes and can be a punisher for thawing, expanding and retracting? That’s very hard on the stone. You have to have the right pieces for the project.”

Noone says that hardscape installations at SiteOne split about 80/20 across residential and commercial customers. Those different demographics spell varied needs met by SiteOne’s Stone Centers.

“As far as sourcing stone and making sure it’s going into the right climates, we have our Stone Centers across the United States and Canada,” Noone says. “They specialize in servicing, education and sourcing materials for the contractors. They also work in conjunction with our customers’ customers. They connect them with experts, the craftsmen, who can do the jobs they’re not capable of doing.”

Marcus Ralston, vice president of New Hampshire-based ClifRock, says his company’s stone panels are another good solution in solving project hurdles related to climate or stone location.

“We have a system in place of mixing these proprietary masonry compounds,” he says. “That is mixed and cast in pre-formed panel molds, creating the look and feel of natural stone hardscape designs. It looks very authentic and blends right in. The panels aren’t as sensitive to temperature changes as the natural stone is.”

Working together

Jason Hestekin, director of dimensional stone for Wisconsin-based Kafka Granite, sees his company’s materials used in luxury home projects.

Working with what he characterizes as “pallet-sized sheets” of stone allows clients to form irregular shapes around ponds and other water features. Regardless of shape, Hestekin says contractors should make sure materials will withstand contact with water.

“A big thing to think about, whether you’re working with a granite or a limestone, is the chemicals in those ponds to keep the water (pH) in balance,” he says. “Chemicals and a natural product (like stone) don’t do well together. The stone can be damaged on the inside. They need to get their rubber liner up and, a lot of times, keep that natural stone a few inches above the water so it’s not coming in direct contact with those chemicals.”

Hestekin advises contractors to seek out stone with a low absorption rate such as a granite product.

“You see monuments in cemeteries made out of granite,” he says. “It’s made of granite for a reason.”

Soft stone can be tempting

Choosing softer stone for a project where conditions like rainfall or extreme temperatures may present problems is an easy mistake to make. That’s due to those materials being aesthetically pleasing, says Roger Ramsey, national category manager for outdoor living products at Arizona-based Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply.

Daryl Irsik, Ewing’s national product manager for hardscapes, agrees.

“One of my larger pond builders put it very well; you want stone that looks like you could have found them hiking in the mountains or the woods,” he says. “They try to incorporate as much variety as you’d find in the natural landscape and, for the most part, I’d agree about seeking the indigenous stone.”

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