Placing stones with an expert’s flair

Rock Stars
Norm Plate

When Hendrikus Schraven sets rocks in home landscapes, he positions them to look as though time and the elements simply revealed a stonescape that had been there forever. How does he do it? Experience, certainly; Schraven has been landscaping with stone for more than 30 years, ever since he arrived from the Netherlands and started building dry-stacked stone walls. A keen sense of observation helps too. “Once you’re in tune with nature’s stonescapes, you get it right,” he says.

Schraven delights in the many uses of rocks―ones with depressions in their tops, for example, can work as birdbaths. But they should always look like they belong in the landscape. “Nature is chaotic yet flowing.” Romancing the stone
Issaquah, WA, designer Hendrikus Schraven ( or 425/392-1200) offers advice for achieving a natural look with stones of every size. • Choose rocks that look like those occurring naturally in your garden or in the wild landscape nearby. If slate and granite are present already, add a few more pieces of both types. • Avoid scattering rocks across the landscape like salt and pepper. But don’t set them in straight rows. “That looks so manmade,” Schraven says. • Arrange the stones to follow the contours of the land. To avoid a plopped-down look, mound soil around the bottom of each rock. • Use spaces between rocks as planting pockets. “Just use the best soil you can, and make [the planting hole] deep,” Schraven says. “Let plants partly cover the stones.” • To fix a chipped granite rock, rub the raw edge with another piece of granite to soften and reshape it. If the color is wrong, rub in some dirt to “age” it.
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