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Outdoor rooms should be a comfortable, serene, and functional living area, and be an extension of your indoor space.  The many types of landscape stone can help create a pleasant, functional outdoor living area.  It can be used in the paving, walls, and other architectural pieces, and complement the color and the stone on your home.


This Lannon stone wall acts as a seat wall, defines a sense of space and privacy. Columns with lanterns anchor the wall.

Retaining Walls

  • Stone used:  Concrete blocks, Lannon stone, fieldstone and timbers
  • Allows to level a yard with a large slope, giving more space for a living area.

A Bluestone and brick combination breaks up a large patio into different areas for different functions. Here the brick inset acts as the dining area.

Seat Walls

  • Stone used:  Concrete block, Lannon stone, mortared stone or brick with cap stones
  • Gives living area a sense of space
  • Provides a sense of privacy
  • Provides more sitting areas
  • A nice piece of architectural interest

Concrete block columns topped with lanterns frame the entry to this patio.


  • Stone used:  Concrete, Bluestone, Concrete pavers, brick, or Lannon Stone
  • Use for sitting/conversational areas, reading, eating, lounging or grilling
  • Stone insets break up the paving area into individual outdoor rooms, for example, an eating area and a lounge area.  They can also give an illusion of an area rug.

Concrete block retaining walls hold back soil to provide more room for a patio. The lower wall can also act as a seat wall.


  • Stone used:  Concrete blocks, Lannon stone, mortared stone or brick, with cap stones
  • Gives an outdoor area a sense of entry
  • Top with lanterns for night lighting
  • Can anchor a seat wall
  • Architectural interest


Are you tired of sitting out on the same old patio that you’ve had for years?  Is it too small, dingy, uninteresting, or impractical?  Utilize one or more of these patio renewal tips and bring it Back To Life!!

Are the pavers, concrete or stone looking dirty, uneven or falling apart?

  • Pressure wash to remove dirt and stains, repair cracks in concrete, sweep silica sand in the joints or mortar joints and seal the pavers to give you patio a “new look”.
  • For uneven pavers or stone, lift and re-level the base with crushed gravel or sand and re-lay.
  • Replace broken or chipped pavers.

Is the patio area too small or uninteresting?

  • Add an area for additional sitting, eating or cooking with the same material

of your existing patio or a different complimentary material.

  • Edge the patio or add a border around the patio with brick, bluestone, or cobbles.
  • Inset a different material inside your patio, like a brick “blanket” inside concrete.
  • Add a pergola to create the feel of an indoor room and help shade the area.
  • Add planting beds around the patio to create screening, giving it a sense of privacy.  Use pleasant smelling plants, a tree with a nice canopy for shade, or edible plants near outdoor kitchen areas.
  • Install outdoor lighting to light up plantings and sitting areas, extending patio use to the evening hours.
  • Add a seat wall for extra seating, creating a sense of space.  Columns to cap off the seat wall gives it an elegant look. (See Picture Above)

Is the patio impractical?  Make it more functional!

  • Add furniture:  chairs with comfy pillows, tables with umbrellas and rugs to create a living space.  If your patio is big enough, establish more than one conversational area.
  • Create an outdoor kitchen area.  This could be for a free-standing grill or a built in grill with counter tops.
  • Add a fire pit, gas or natural, permanent or free standing, extending the use of the patio during cooler days.


To create a more exciting patio at this front entry, we inset a brick “blanket” inside the concrete.  A brick trimmed planter establishes an elegant  focal point.


Make your patio more functional by adding an outdoor kitchen area like the one we constructed here with concrete wall stone and bluestone countertops.  Matching concrete pavers are used for a landing area and a border around the concrete patio.


In this Whitefish Bay back yard, we created several living areas including this eating area furnished with a table, comfy chairs and an outdoor rug.










Create Design PIZZAZ…Ask Yourself These Questions:


Is your front entry a dud?

  • Are the plantings out of control and hiding the windows and doors?  Start anew!  With many new cultivars available, add color and plant in masses for an updated look with less maintenance.
  • Is the landing too confining to greet guests?  Increase the size with a spacious and inviting outdoor foyer.  Make it large enough to add a bench for a sitting area.

Does your front walkway lack spunk? 

  • Create a larger, inviting landing at the driveway or city walkway. 
  • Install a column or architectural element matching the house for a focal point or to anchor or frame the entryway.
  • Widen the walkway by adding a course of brick along the sides or replace it with brick or pavers that compliment the colors of your house.

    Adding a larger outdoor foyer with a brick inset and a sitting area provides adequate room for greeting visitors. A round brick planter adds a focal interest to the entrance.












Does your house have an interesting feature like an archway or window detail?

  • Add a classy element and repeat the shape in a brick inset or in the outline of a planting bed.

Has your front stoop passed its prime, giving a poor impression of what might be behind?

  • Cap it by mortaring on brick or Bluestone if it’s structurally sound.  Replace it if it’s crumbling or settled, preventing water from entering the basement and injuries from people tripping and falling.

    A curved stoop is reconstructed and capped with Bluestone in a shape that mimics the shape of the front door and windows. A large landing at the driveway welcomes visitors.












Does nighttime steal away your hospitality?

  • Bring your home and landscaping to life with a low voltage lighting system.  Up lighting a tree can create a visual sculpture or accent your façade.  Path lights create safety and security.

Could your front door be a focal point?

  • The front door sets the tone for the whole house.  Replace it with a door with more architectural character.
  • Painting the door a vibrant color makes it pop and catches the eye.

    The sidewalk is widened by adding a course of brick to the sides. The materials of the stoop and sidewalk compliment the colors of the house.











A beautiful stone wall can add a truly majestic element to your landscape.  The use of attractive, natural stone in a wall, whether mortared or dry laid, creates an architectural component with a timeless appeal.  Use a stone wall to enhance the architecture of your home, define space or create a theme for your landscape.

A mortared granite wall and column beautifies a driveway entrance and matches the masonry on the house.









Stone Garden Wall Objectives 

  • Frame an entryway, sidewalk or driveway, drawing your eye toward these areas or use as a focal point.
  • Create a sense of space by placing the wall along a sitting area, courtyard or outdoor foyer.  
  • Give a sense of privacy by installing a wall around patios and conversational areas.
  • Construct seat walls, providing extra areas to sit and relax, or areas to place planters, garden art, lights, and refreshments.
  • Create raised planters.
  • Hold back soil, terracing yards to create usable space and planting areas.

Wall Materials and Additions

  • There is an infinite selection of natural stone available, split, fractured, cut, tumbled and cobble, that give a variety of architectural effects.
  • Add a column to the end of the wall to help anchor it.
  • For a finished, elegant look, top the wall with a Bluestone or a Bedford limestone cap, or put a marque or address stone in the wall or column.
  • Put landscape lighting on top of the wall column, or have an up light shining onto the wall.

This fractured Basalt wall creates a raised planting bed, giving the sitting area a sense of privacy.







This mortared Lannon cobble wall and column with a Bluestone cap helps frame and focalize the entrance.

This dry laid Lannon stone wall with a Bedford limestone cap helps give the patio area a sense of privacy.






The front entry is the most important feature of your house, especially if you are trying to sell it.  A well designed and maintained front entry can raise your real estate value up to 20%.  It should give a good first impression, easily lead visitors to the entrance to your home, and compliment your house.  Here are some other tips to create fabulous front entries.                                                  


Use retaining walls and terrace them when there is a slope present.           

– Create a larger landing area at the entrance for people to congregate. Sitting areas can be incorporated in front entryways.

– Walkways should be 4 feet or wider and flare at the driveway and stoop.  They should be a direct, non-confusing path from the driveway to the front door.

– Masonry columns can frame an entryway or act as a focal point.

– Use the colors of the hardscape to compliment the colors of the brick, siding, or shingles of the house.


– Plants can be focal points from inside and outside your house; they should frame the house and focus attention to the entrance.

– Plant in masses, but don’t overdue it.  Keep it simple.

– Install plants to provide shade and privacy, repeating colors, shapes and textures.

– Place containers with flowers or a specimen plant to help focalize or frame the entrance.

 Other Elements

– The design of a front entryway should be in balance and in scale with the house. It should compliment the house by taking forms from the house, like arches and window shapes, and repeating those shapes in the landscape.

– Low voltage landscape lighting provides safety, helps lead to the entrance of the home and highlights focal points.

– Painting the front door a contrasting color that compliments the house helps draw the eye toward the entrance.

Use retaining walls and terrace them with plantings when there is a slope present.

Use masonry columns and planters to help frame an entryway

Use focal points, like this Ginkgo tree, to draw the eye to the front entrance.  Pull architectural shapes from the house and incorporate them into the lanscape.  In this picture, the square Bluestone mimic the shape of the windows.

Wandsnider Landscape Architects

We strive to create beautiful outdoor environments for your enjoyment. Inviting livable spaces that capture your vision and add value to your home.


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