Front Yard Stone Beds

Projects

From the moment we moved into our home, we knew the front yard was going to be a hard battle to win. Some of the great things about our neighborhood – neighbors regularly walking their dogs, snow plows actually plowing our street, trees surrounding our property on three sides – would quickly become a challenge to keep up with. The edge of our lawn started to deteriorate from dogs doing their business, pine needles dropping and plow blades wreaking havoc. Within a year the lawn was a bit of an eye sore so in the summer of 2019 we decided to do something about it.

On our walks with Piper we had seen some houses with stone beds lining the front of their property. I had always wondered whether it was functional or just an aesthetic landscaping decision. The more I thought about it, the more I realized our neighbors were probably struggling from the same factors as us.

The idea was to tear up what was left of the front edge of the lawn and install an ~18” deep bed of stones that would prevent dogs from killing the grass when they went #1, could take more of a beating from the snow salt and would not be suffocated by falling pine needles and leaves.

To start, we measured and marked where we wanted the edge of the bed with a string. From the string to the curb we cleared a 4” trench to make room for the landscape fabricplastic landscape edgingmetal stakes and 3/4″ crushed stone. There’s probably more of a science to this but we sort of eye balled the depth and used a tamper to press down the loose dirt before we installed the plastic edging.

The plastic edging came in a large roll and was pretty easy to cut and install. It was definitely much easier with two people – one holding the edging flat against the back edge of the trench (it liked to roll back on itself) and one pounding stakes through the plastic into the ground to secure it.

Next up was the laying the landscape fabric. The purpose of this material is to prevent weeds from growing up through the stones. This stuff looks like a mesh fabric and comes in a roll. You can purchase this in different widths and barrier levels depending on the size of your bed and what kind of ground cover you’re working with. I think you’re actually supposed to install the liner with stakes, but we just laid it down and let the weight of the rocks hold it in place.

Having seen the neighbors stone beds, I knew we needed to incorporate a little something more to tie the beds into our front landscape more seamlessly. Stones alone are just, well, boring! We decided on planting Hostas, which you’ll find out were not actually the best choice. To do this I measured every ~6 feet and sliced an X in the liner large enough to dig a small hole for the plant root to sit in. We then dug holes for each of the plants and covered them back up with the loose dirt. Now, hindsight is 20/20. After going through ha full season, we realize we should not have planted a shade-friendly plant along a bed that was in full sun ~50% of the day. Those poor plants have had a hard time thriving during the hot, sunny summer days.

Once we had the plants in the ground, all we had left to do was spread the stone. We had a load of crushed stone delivered from a local landscaping company. They dumped it in the driveway on tarps we had laid out and from there we were able to shovel small quantities into the wheel barrow. The wheel barrow was a last minute purchase to help us cart the stone around and it was probably the best purchase of the project. It saved our backs big time. Aside from the stones being heavy, this part was pretty easy. Matt poured loads of stones into the bed and I spread it by hand around the plants to ensure even coverage.

Maintenance has been pretty easy – just watering plants and blowing leaves and bits of nature out of the stones. We’re happy with this solution, but here are a few things we might change if we did it again:

  • Slightly wider beds. This is a personal preference, but I think wider beds would look a little more substantial.
  • Different plants. The Hostas just don’t hold up well in the sun, so a more sun-friendly plant would have been a better choice given the location.
  • Plants in planters. We might still do this, but having the plants off the ground would help them thrive against dogs and snow salt.
  • More stone. This was just something we didn’t fully know how to measure for, but another layer of stone would hide the plastic edging a little better so it would have more of an invisible barrier.

Hope this was helpful and gives you some inspiration to tackle a small landscaping project in your own yard!

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