Our Favorite Things: Bluestone

by Ben Bowen

Bluestone

Here at Ross NW we love stone. Mica slate, river rock, Mexican pebbles, gravel, decomposed granite, basalt (Camas, Columbia River, black, Avison)... and probably some other ones I am forgetting. 

Bluestone, however, has a special place in our hearts. We don't use it the most often and it's not right for every landscape design client. But when we do utilize bluestone it's fantastic.

Why?

As you may have guessed, it has a wonderful blue color. It can be a pure pale blue, like this. Or it can be variegated, with browns, greens, even purples coursing threaded through it. The colors are soft and natural, blending well with many other materials- even concrete pavers.

Bluestone also sports a soft texture and naturally smooth (for stone) surface. This makes it ideal for any surface that you will walk on barefoot- like pool decking. When bluestone is tumbled it mellows out even more, losing all sharp edges.

Since bluestone is soft (again, for stone) it is available in several different forms. It comes out of the ground in large sheets with random edges. These pieces are very nice for a walkway or path- especially if geometric patterns don't work for your yard.

It is also cut into squares and rectangles of consistent thickness. This is known as dimensional bluestone. One of the things about natural stone that makes it so time consuming to install is the irregularity of the pieces. Dimensional bluestone eliminates the irregularity and can be installed more efficiently.

Dimensional bluestone can be "fired" for a smoother surface. A flame is applied to the surface, causing bumps and ridges to pop off. The edges can be given a bullnose, perfect for outdoor kitchen counters or coping.

Yes, bluestone is incredibly versatile. And beautiful. But, you are wondering...

What does bluestone cost?

Bluestone costs between $6 and $10 per square foot at stone yards here in the Portland area. But that is just the beginning... Installation adds between $20 and $45 per square foot, depending on the application.

Is bluestone for you? If so, please contact us. Ross NW Watergardens will happily consult on your bluestone project!