The famous weather predicting groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said there would be another six weeks of winter. Phil sleeps in a hole in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but his prediction certainly is playing out here in Houston. We don’t usually have to wait long for our winter to be over and many of us start planning our Spring planting right after cleaning up from our New Year’s eve party.

Planting usually comes early here, but not this year. As winter lingers, we get itchy to start working in the garden. Should we go ahead and plant, or do we risk freezing our Gerber daisies? If we wait, how long should we wait?

We can’t rely on Punxsutawney Phil to tell us what to do, so it’s time to change our focus and build garden and patio infrastructure while we wait for a local Houston prairie dog to give us the all clear. Let’s rock, and look at a few ways stones, rocks and bricks can be used to enhance and beautify the yard and garden areas.

Pathways

Designing a garden often means adding paths to access all areas of the garden for maintenance of plants and as pathways into our tranquil sanctuary of green. Brick paths create a safer surface for young children and the elderly as they can be made smoother and more continuous. Slate stone paths blend more naturally with your garden as grass or moss will fill in the spaces between the stones with time.

Fountains

Adding a water element to a yard or garden brings squirrels and birds to your garden. You may not want to attract these critters if you are growing vegetables. A fountain also creates white noise that helps block out city noises and moving water stirs and cools the hot air so your garden will be an oasis in the dog days of summer. Fountains can be freestanding structures or can be the “waterfall” feature in a pond structure.

Walls

Rock walls are great ways to add dimension and levels to a garden. Walls can also be used to separate different areas of your yard or garden for different uses. Rock walls can vary in height depending on how you want to use them. A wall with a low flat surface gives you a comfy place to sit. Higher walls can provide a privacy screen to hide structures you don’t want to see while you are in your garden, like trash cans or air conditioner compressors.

Fireplace

A fireplace in a garden makes the garden accessible and usable during the winter months. A combination barbecue and fireplace makes it good for all seasons. The chimney of the fireplace can be incorporated into the wall of an existing patio to provide additional shade and protection from wind. A freestanding fireplace can be used as a backdrop for climbing roses, or as a divider to separate areas in the garden. No matter what you choose to do with stones in your yard or garden, stones add beauty and value to the outside areas of your home.