flower beds on stone edges
Photo: Tom McWilliam
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3. Soften the Hardscape

While big slabs of stone make handsome steps or patio surfacing, left alone they can look a little…cold. To help rustic stonework blend even better into its natural surroundings—and take the edge off its solid mass—surround it with small-leaved groundcovers such as creeping thyme or this spotted deadnettle. Planted along rock edges, or in the cracks between stones, they add a welcome color contrast, soften hard surfaces, and reinforce any natural curves in a meandering path or in a round or oval patio. The encroaching foliage makes such slabs look even more like natural stone outcroppings.
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