RENEGADE GARDENER

The lone voice of horticultural reason

Creative Use Of Hardscape

My house was built in 1945, and though I don’t know the name of the builder it’s apparent he was thorough, competent, well skilled and for some reason employed an utter charlatan of a plumber. The half-acre lot it rests on is of pleasant shape and proportion, its sole shortfall that it lacks even a strip of woods where I might permanently store the leaves, acorns and twigs that drop incessantly from the nine mature maples, oaks and elms shading the property. (Oops, make that eight. I had what must have been a 2,000-year-old oak tree in my front yard removed by a tree service last winter. Wrote the check grinning from ear to ear. Don’t get upset, it was ethical, the big tree had to go-it had been damaged by a tornado. In 1965.)

None of the five previous owners had ever done any landscaping, short of the fiend who ringed 80 tons of pink rock around the house, careful to first lay a quadruple-layer of black plastic and thus ensure eternal adolescence to a meager range of deformed shrubbery. But that was one of the house’s attractions. With the exception of the foundation plantings, it looked like a dollhouse sitting on a pool table. A worn-out, cigarette ash- and beer-stained bar pool table, but a pool table nonetheless. What it lacked was landscaping, which is a darn sight cheaper than buying a fine house surrounded by finished landscaping you hate.

During the time I’ve been developing the front and back (the side yards are scheduled for the year 2000), numerous pickup trucks I’ve owned have worn a path to a favorite shopping place, one of the best, largest hardscape supply yards in Minnesota, Hedberg Aggregates in Plymouth.

Nothing beats natural stone in the landscape. It’s from the earth, it’s beautiful and no two rocks, slabs or sheets are alike. For my raised perennial beds in the front, I use Wisconsin gray trap rock, which I handpick from Hedberg’s tidy and seemingly endless bins. The gray-blue tones with occasional subtle wisps of pink separate the green lawn from the colorful plants in a natural, yet striking manner. I’m contrasting the back yard with edgings and walls of lannon stone, a faintly yellow native that is quarried into rough, odd-sized blocks. Field stone-various-sized, roundish granite rocks of a hundred different hues-is another favorite; in residential landscaping, any of these stone types and 20 more can be used in place of sterile, monotonous concrete retaining wall block.

Grandpa Hedberg began in the aggregate business in 1920, but it was Steve Hedberg who started the full-service yard 10 years ago. They sell it all: landscape stone, interior and exterior veneer stone, patio stone, brought in from quarries across the country plus Canada and Mexico. They sport a wide selection of brick patio, sidewalk and driveway pavers, which I find attractive within the right design, as well as sand, gravel and top-quality shredded hardwood mulch. The place is huge but orderly; I stop in for a quick load of sand and wind up exploring for an hour among the pallets and piles of breathtakingly wonderful material.

Landscapers, builders and architects are in and out of the place constantly, of course, but the do-it-yourselfer is treated just as professionally. You may want to check in at the showroom counter your first visit, just to get the lay of the land or to ask for assistance, if needed, in loading. When ready you’ll pull your vehicle onto their scale empty, then load and pull back onto the scale; pull off, park, and head inside to settle. They also deliver all materials, plus offer weekly seminars for homeowners on common landscaping projects, from installing patio stone or pavers to building retaining walls.

I’ve no stake in the place; I’m just a sucker for businesses that combine good products, fair prices, large selection and friendly service, especially when the end result is beautiful yards. Phone 612-545-4400 for directions or explore their nifty, informative web site: www.shadeslanding.com/hedberg.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener