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Natural Stone and Ground Covers Are a Great Combination

Fine Gardening - Issue 193
Photo: Carol Collins

A hardscape is always in season, and Jerry Fritz has created versions of his signature living patio for many happy clients over the years. The concept is deceptively simple: large flagstones create open space, a natural transition between home and garden. Ground covers and rock garden plants fill the gaps between stones and soften the edges of the patio, tying it into the surrounding beds. Here are some tips for adding one of these comfortable outdoor living spaces to your landscape.

1. Use heavy, flat slabs of stone

The larger the stones, the less likely they will be to shift and become tripping hazards. Include a few stones with shallow indentations to catch rainwater for birds to drink and bathe in.

2. Keep the center low

Ground covers used in the middle of the patio should be low-growing and able to tolerate some foot traffic.

3. Add volume at the edges

Where the patio meets surrounding beds, plants can be taller. Use shrubs and small trees to define the perimeter.

filling gaps with ground covers
Photo: courtesy of Jerry Fritz Garden Design

Pro Tip: Fill gaps with ground covers

Ground covers sold in 6- or 8-inch pots can be broken down into smaller pieces to fill spaces between stones. simply take the plant out of its pot and use a sharp knife to cut off all but the top 2 inches of the root ball. cut this plant material into smaller pieces, and tuck them into the spaces between stones. they will quickly root into the screening material.

Carol Collins is the associate editor.

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