During the spring and summer months, many people spend time outdoors to relax, play games, or for parties and gatherings. Renewed interest in the outdoors has caused many homeowners to start construction or home renovation projects to create the perfect backyard sanctuary. Backyards aren’t the only areas receiving attention—front yards are being redefined as open-air foyers, serving as stunning entrances that set the tone for visual experiences homeowners create in their indoor living spaces. Homeowners, designers and landscapers are selecting various types of stone—including slate, granite, marble, limestone and sandstone—as the modern foundations for outdoor living. Stone in the front yard There was a time when a simple concrete walkway leading to a concrete slab porch was a standard for modern home design. Now, homeowners are leaving the concrete to the sidewalks and choosing dynamic walkways and driveways made from a wide variety of paving stones. Many homeowners plan their designs by researching different types of stone, looking at the ease of application, and considering the cost of implementing the design before embarking on a front yard renovation project. Slope is also important because proper slope ensures adequate drainage away from the home. The majority of paving projects generally require a base (usually comprised of crushed stone), edge restraints (to hold the shape of the final design), sand (to hold the paving stones in place), and the stones (the most popular natural paving stones are made of slate, granite, limestone and sandstone). Complete excavation of the area is necessary to achieve optimal results. With a clean canvas, the possibilities are endless. Homeowners can choose traditional standard cuts shapes in squares, circles, or rectangles of differing sizes. They can also select non-conventional cuts from natural stone slabs for a more rustic feel. When setting the stones, they can space them apart or connect them depending on the look they want to achieve. Flowers, grasses, and other plants can enhance the natural appearance of the design, as will other stone elements such as fountains and statutes. Natural stone steps leading to a porch also made of stone will complement the front yard design and highlight the home’s curb appeal. Stone in the backyard Flooring makes a difference, whether it is a marble floor in the bathroom or a slate patio in the backyard. Stone can balance nature with modern outdoor amenities such as grills, kitchens, tables, seating areas and dining areas. Homeowners who select stone for their backyard projects are not limited by color or style. Stones with red, blue, gray or orange coloring will heighten a backyard’s appearance, not diminish it, particularly when it blends with stone countertops and outdoor fireplaces. Designers and landscapers prefer slate, sandstone or limestone for patios, but there are other options available. Most backyard patios feature seamless arrangements of stone, although the textures and veining inherent in stone creates wonderful contrasts. Installing a backyard patio is similar to installing a walkway—preparing a base and positioning the stone—but filling the joints with the proper material is critical to ensuring that the stones remain in place. Those looking for a more comprehensive backyard renovation can build retaining walls to separate gathering areas and outdoor kitchens from other parts of the backyard, such as gardens or swimming pools. With proper planning and a bit of patience, it’s never too late to transform a front yard into an outdoor foyer or a backyard into a relaxing retreat.