Stone is a natural, enduring material suitable for walls, steps, patios, paths and even mulch. Decorative landscape stone is available in a wide array of sizes, types, colors and finishes for use in different landscape applications as well as to suit varying landscape and architectural styles. Available selections may depend on local geography; although decorative stone is quarried around the world, shipping specialty varieties from far-flung points may be prohibitively expensive.
Fieldstone is any locally found stone type that is used in its natural, uncut form, according to the University of Minnesota Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series. The type of stone that might be available as fieldstone will therefore vary depending on your location; basalt and granite are typical indigenous fieldstone types in Minnesota, while the fieldstone of other regions might include sandstone or even marble. Freestanding stone walls or retaining walls are typical landscape applications for fieldstone use. Fieldstone is also popularly used for large fireplace hearths and mantels in places with rugged architectural styles such as lodges and camps.
Flagstone is any type of stone that is cut into flat, relatively thin slabs. According to the University of Minnesota, limestone, granite and sandstone are all used as flagstone. Slate is also used as flagstone (as well as for construction, roofing, and flooring and is available from northeastern United States suppliers in shades of red, green, gray and black, according to the University of Vermont. Flagstone is available either cut to square-edged slabs in geometric shapes such as rectangles for steps or diamonds for fitted patio stones, or with rough, natural edges suitable for use as stepping stones surrounded by turf, moss or fine-textured gravel.
Crushed Stone and Gravel
A wide assortment of gravel and crushed stone products are available for landscape use as inorganic mulches around woody shrub plantings as well as pathways, driveways and patios. The Michigan State University Extension notes that decorative stone mulches can have advantages over organic mulches; they do not wash away in flooding, are not blown away by the wind, and do not contain weed seeds that can sprout in your planting beds. The Colorado State University Extension that decorative crushed stone and gravel are also a valuable component of fire-resistant landscaping. Among crushed stone and gravel types are crushed marble or white stone, small round pebble gravel (also called "pea stone") and limestone chips. The choice of crushed stone or gravel type depends on the aesthetic style of your landscaping.