Cobblestone, the tough, natural rock that has been tumbled through eons of glacier movement and miles of roaring river rapids, was once the main material for paving roads and walkways. You see still see it on streets in the oldest areas of Colonial American cities and villages. It makes up the pathways that meander through English cottage gardens. And its smooth, rounded edges add character to fireplaces, walls, and stone fences in historic American towns.
Although asphalt and concrete replaced cobblestone paving in the modern era, the natural stone remains a favorite component for adding Old World and country-style charm to homes with much more modern architecture. The natural stones are available in bulk at landscape design centers. Cobblestone pavers, made by modern machine methods of cutting and grinding, are also widely available for use by dedicated do-it-yourselfers and contractors.
Even more recently, cobblestone veneer has become a popular product for construction and remodeling. Thin slices of smooth-edged stone are adhered together into panels, which are significantly easier to install than setting each individual stone in mortar. Adding the beautiful texture and visual appeal of cobblestone products to surfaces around your home and garden now can take a few hours rather than the several days required for old-fashioned, one-by-one stone-setting methods.
All of these products are useful to bring a graceful touch of country style to your home and garden. Paired with historic and neutral-colored paint and furnishings on the interior, cobblestone finishes bring natural beauty to installations such as the following.
Cover the vertical surfaces of an existing fireplace with cobblestone veneer that has an aged appearance but is clean and easy to maintain. For a lighter touch, use the veneer only on the horizontal hearth portion of the fireplace.
Natural cobblestones and cobblestone pavers may be used to design an attractive hearth pad and surround for wood burning stoves and decorative natural gas and pellet-burning stove heaters. The cobblestone surface has sufficient sheen to subtly reflect the fire's flickering light without the glare other stone, metal, and tile surfaces often have.
Outside, cobblestone products are particularly useful in creating a cottage garden atmosphere and for landscaping to match Colonial style architecture in these types of installations.
Unless you have a short, narrow driveway, cobblestone paving can be pricey. But you can achieve a pleasing alternative by installing cobblestone edging along the sides of the driveway. Flanked by neatly trimmed evergreen shrubs, the hardscape surface blends seamlessly with the rest of the landscape features.
Paths and Walkways
Because of its uneven surface, natural cobblestone paths are best positioned at the outer perimeter of the gardens. But you can achieve the same charming, nostalgic look on the paths near the house by using cobblestone pavers that have a smoother surface when they're properly installed by an experienced contractor. The coloring ranges from soft browns to shades of gray, depending on the location where the stone is collected, so double check that the coloring is compatible with existing surfaces if you're upgrading the landscaping.
An outdoor fireplace clad in cobblestone veneer makes a lovely focal point for an outdoor living area. Unlike the more common fieldstone finishes which incorporate larger stone surface areas, the visual impact of cobblestone is more gentle and compatible with both cottage garden and Colonial style surroundings.
Use the same type of veneer to wrap built-in planters and low divider walls that accent a patio or grassy seating area. Farther away from the house, a simple garden shed can become a beautiful feature of the landscape design when its exterior is fully or partially covered with cobblestone veneer siding.