Natural Stone Article
Natural Stone Adds Lasting Beauty
~by TOM STEVE
No landscape amenity stands the test of time quite like natural stone. And while stone waterfalls, trellises or ponds may require a higher initial investment, they will be enjoyed in back yards, or golf courses for generations.
Design and installation of natural stone amenities is easier than you think, according to an industry veteran. Elroy Wagler, owner of Colonial Brick & Stone in Newton, Ontario, has been working with natural stone for over 20 years. His line of natural stone products includes pre-built waterfalls and stone masonry. Elroy says with a Colonial pre-built system, contractors and their customers know exactly what they’re getting. “We set up in our yard where the customers can view it, or photos can be sent for approval before shipment. Changes can be made much easier in our yard, rather than when the waterfall is half built. They know the dimensions of it, how it’s going to fit together and what it’s going to cost” says Mr. Wagler. “There are no surprises”.
They also benefit from Elroy’s years of experience with natural stone, including the proper choice of rocks. Limestone and granite are recommended for waterfalls because of the natural effect that can be achieved as a finished product. “It’s a real easy way for someone who wouldn’t have the confidence to go out and build a waterfall from scratch out of natural rock,” Elroy says. Contractors also avoid costly trips to and from the site, with rocks that may or may not be suitable.
Elroy Wagler has sold waterfalls to customers as far away as West Virginia and Maine, in a variety of sizes up to 13 feet in height and 9 feet in width.
Stone trellises are a more recent addition to the Colonial line of products. Stone slabs at the top and the bottom, with two upright pieces carved to fit into the top, provide a stunning feature to any landscape. Elroy says a trellis on display in the company yard, even attracts the attention of passing motorists. “People come in and say ‘that reminds me of Stonehenge,” he says with a chuckle.
Colonial’s educational seminars offer a wide range of information on waterfall design and installation, and stone laying. The seminars are geared to an industry audience that includes contractors, parks and recreation personnel, and landscape architects, to name a few. Colonial Brick and Stone also designs, builds and markets “The Quarries’ Friend”, a line of stone splitting equipment. Wagler sees a positive trend toward natural stone in landscapes. He notes that many people, perhaps concerned about job security, are putting their money into home and yard renovations on the property they own now, rather than jumping into big mortgages. He also believes the cottage trend has eased somewhat, making the home landscape more important. “I think people are spending a little more money at home so they can enjoy their back yard,” he says. “instead of just a square box swimming pool they’ll have a waterfall falling into it, or they’ll do more design to create a cottage setting in their own back yard.
“We enjoy the challenge of being called into a situation where the customer wants to have a more natural, peaceful setting outside of their window to enjoy from the inside and with one step out the door to be in the midst of it all. We evaluate the entire setting and how we can take advantage of neighborhood trees as a background, at no cost to our customer.” He says they also focus on things that should be covered, such as water pipes, unsightly fences, run-down buildings, etc. And they watch for things that can be changed with little cost and effort, such as transforming a weedy swale into a beach pebble dry creek. “A one piece stone bridge is an inexpensive solution that will allow you to cross a swale with dry feet in any weather.”
Elroy Wagler and his staff also create optical illusions to take the squareness out of straight-edge swimming pools and can build lily pads and waterfalls that give the appearance of being connected with the water supply of the in-ground pool. The end result of such a project is a “haven of beauty that can be enjoyed every day, summer and winter, without having to drive miles to see it,” says Elroy.