Be inspired: award-winning natural stone patio ideas at RHS flower shows around the UK.

Jura Grey plank paving runs to sunken seating area with steps on other side towards open-fronted studio in LG Eco-City Garden.
Jura Beige limestone creates precise lines in the LG Eco-City Garden, designed by Hay-Joung Hwang, built by Randle Siddeley, RHS Chelsea 2018.

Natural stone paving for modern stone patios

It's been around for millennia; natural stone paving never goes out of fashion. Riven stone has a relaxed for that's ideal for older and rustic settings. Sawn natural stone offers the sleek looks and finely cut edges so important to modern gardens. What so many designers love, though, is that no paving slab is exactly the same. It’s these—sometimes very subtle—variations in tone and markings that add warmth to paving schemes, without losing modernity.  

Natural stone also has the advantage of being cut from quarried stone. This gives a flexibility over size and shape. And that means you can incorporate special touches like the ones we explore below.

Designers' favourite natural paving

Curved steps descend to round pond edged with Jura Green coping in Tom Simpson's Cancer Research garden, RHS Hampton Court 2019.
Tom Simpson chose bespoke Jura Green coping and steps for his Gold-winning Cancer Research Pledge Pathway to Success Garden at Hampton Court 2019.. Photographer Joanna Kossak.

If there's a favourite designer paving, it might just be Jura limestone. This appears time and again in award-winning gardens.

A superb example of its refined character is seen in the LG Eco-City Garden, designed by Hay-Joung Hwang (pictured at the top of the page). In a rectilinear layout that balances symmetry with asymmetry, the sawn Jura’s pale, consistent colouring helps emphasise the lines with a crisp finish.

Jura limestone makes a superb patio paving. Available in beige and grey as standard, its surface is enlivened by tiny fossils and markings which speak of its age and give it a distinct character. It can, however, be beyond the budget of some projects. All is not lost. Check out our exclusive porcelain paving, made to emulate Jura Limestone Porcelain to create the designer look. Its looks are genuinely difficult to distinguish from the real thing.

Pond with Jura Grey plank paving forming bridge, planted borders on each side in LG Eco-City Garden,.
Over-size Jura Grey planks emulate the paving at the front of the garden in the stepping stones that cross the still pond in the LG Eco-City Garden, designed by Hay-Joung Hwang, built by Randle Siddeley.

Hay-Joung's design also includes outsize, 75mm-thick Jura plank paving creating a bridge across the pool. Plank paving particularly suits modern design, but you don’t have to commission bespoke paving to enjoy it.

Natural stone plank paving in award-winning design

Shaped black granite plank paving contrasts with resin-bound gravel in Crest Nicholson LIVEWELL garden, RHS Hampton Court flower show 2019
Black granite planks, cut to match the curves of brick detailing, set into resin-bound gravel, draw attention to the bench on one side of the Crest Nicholson LIVEWELL Garden, Hampton Court Flower Show 2019, designed by Aleksandra Bartczak of David Jarvis Associates.

In her Crest Nicholson LIVEWELL garden, Aleksandra Bartczak chose black granite planks to contrast with the surrounding resin-bound gravel.

Combining contrasting paving to draw attention to a particular area is a design trick that allows you to zone your patio, while adding texture and colour interest. Find out more about designing with plank paving and combining different colour pavings.

Plank paving is readily available in a selection of granite and sandstone.

Budget-friendly natural stone paving

Kota blue limestone plank paving set into white gravel, with planted bowl and curved wooden bench giving a natural stone patio ideas
Rae Wilkinson used Kota Blue limestone to win Silver Gilt for her HUG (Healing Urban Garden), built by Living Landscapes at RHS Hampton Court 2015.

In her HUG (Healing Urban Garden), Rae Wilkinson showed us that budget paving is every bit as able to create the designer look. Kota Blue limestone is a favourite with anyone seeking a blue tint. Rae used it to advantage, pairing it with white gravel to create a cool oasis. Find more patio ideas for Kota Blue limestone.

Natural stone patio idea of 2 coloured cubes on T-shaped paving of Midnight Black limestone, surrounded by bright planting.
Charlie Bloom's Colour Box garden, RHS Hampton Court 2017, shows the impact that can be made with Midnight Black limestone paving in this natural stone patio idea.

Or how about going darker? Charlie Bloom's budget-friendly Colour Box used Midnight Black limestone sealed with colour-enhancer to make the most of its rich tones.

And if you're looking for a comparable alternative to the very expensive, but very lovely, Jura limestones from Germany, see Egyptian Beige limestone garden designs, which show how this more economical alternative can step into their place.

Dark-coloured natural stone paving

Natural stone patio idea of blue grey granite path between beds leads to steps down to bench seating around fire pit.
The Best of Both Worlds, designed by Rosemary Coldstream, uses the crisp lines of sawn granite and won Gold at RHS Hampton Court 2018.

Deep black slate made Charlie's colourful planting all the more vibrant. Dark granite and slate are two other options for adding deep drama to natural stone patios.

Granite lends itself to contemporary lines, and Rosemary Coldstream enhanced an already dark colour with Intensifia sealant to create an ultra-modern feel in The Best of Both Worlds.

Dark paving also contrasts well with lighter materials, as you can see by checking out Robert Barker’s Skin Deep Garden at Chelsea 2018. It’s an unusual choice which can add real personality to your garden.

To help you decide if deep colour is right for you, read our Dark Paving – Pros and Cons.

Oversized slabs

RHS Chelsea show garden with arched colonnade and pond with Jura beige limestone stepping stones
The large single slab attracts the eye to the furthest corner of The Wedgwood Garden, at RHS Chelsea 2019, drawing the visitor towards it. Designed by Jo Thompson, built by Bespoke Outdoor Spaces.

One oversized slab can create great design impact. Choose it to match your chosen paving and the effect will be to draw attention to the character of all the stone selected. Jo Thompson’s The Wedgwood Garden goes one further and isolates it in the pond - an extra-large slab of Jura Beige inviting visitors to cross the pool for a closer look.

Natural stone patio idea of Fire table of single slab of Jura Beige sits between cushioned benches in  RHS Hampton Court 2021.
The monolithic feel of the single slab of Jura Beige in this fire table in the Viking Friluftsliv Garden, designed by Will Williams, for RHS Hampton Court 2021

Will Williams uses a thick block, raised on a hidden paving slab, to create a fire table in his Viking Friluftsliv Garden. It’s not just the size but the clean, simple lines that give the stone a starring role.

Natural stone panels

Natural stone patio idea of jura grey limestone panels in hedge border. of RHS Hampton Court 2019 garden.
Jura Grey limestone panels, made up of asymmetrically placed slabs create still points in the hedge boundary of Will Williams' Viking Cruises Lagom garden, RHS Hampton Court 2019.

But natural stone doesn’t have to be horizontal. In his Viking Cruises Lagom garden, Will Williams punctuated his boundary hedge with large panels of Jura Grey limestone, creating a monolithic feel that contrasts with the beech hedging. 

Plank paving path between planting to bar partly faced with Grey Yorkstone panel and copper.
Anca Panait creates a clear stop to the path at the bar with her vertical panel of Grey Yorkstone to match the path, in her RHS Hampton Court 2019 The Entertaining Garden, built by GK Wilson Garden and Landscaping Services.

On a smaller scale, designer Anca Panait chose Yorkstone for her The Entertaining Garden. The bespoke plank paving matches the asymmetrical panel on the front of the garden bar. Using the same paving material for upright features is an ideal way to unite vertical and horizontal planes.

Engraved for effect

Harvest sawn sandstone block sculpture engraved with Xylella cell behind paved area in flowery garden at RHS Tatton Park 2019
This imposing feature of Harvest sawn sandstone engraved at our Bepoke Stone Centre focuses the message of the garden in Kristian Reay's Phytosanctuary Garden, RHS Tatton Park 2019. Built by Steven Foxcroft Landscapes

A truly personal touch to any garden is an engraving. Often an upright panel invites an image, as seen in Kristian Reay's Phytosanctuary Garden. Our Bespoke Stone Centre engraved the Harvest sawn sandstone panels with a design that echoed the message of the garden by representing the cell of the Xylella bacterium.

Stone patio idea of engraved Jura beige step at edge of Millboard deck. John King Brain Tumour Foundation Garden, RHS Chelsea 2022.
The discreet addition of a name or date is a great idea for making a natural stone patio more personal, as here with the engraved limestone step of the John King Brain Tumour Foundation Garden at RHS Hampton Court 2022. Designed by .Rhiannon Williams Built by Garden Club London.

However, even a small engraving on a paving slab injects a intimate feel - perhaps an important date or meaningful saying - as Rhiannon Williams did with the unobtrusive engraving at the entrance to her John King Brain Tumour Foundation Garden.

Find another engraved feature in Tom Massey and John Ward's UNHCR Border Control garden.

Matching natural stone coping and steps

Finally, a design element hat makes a huge difference is strength of line. One of the simplest ways to create this is with coping, especially as natural stone offers a 40mm thickness that gives a line considerable substance.

Wooden arch over Heathermoor Buff Yorkstone path narrowing between curved beds with coping.
Naomi Ferret-Cohen creates strong lines with coping to match the Buff Yorkstone paving in Finding Our Way: NHS Tribute Garden, built by Burnham Landscaping for RHS Hampton Court 2021.

Naomi Ferrett-Cohen’s NHS Tribute Garden at Chelsea 2021 is a great example is the strong, sinuous line created by the coping, which uses the creamy colouring of Buff Yorkstone. Here it doubles as seating.

Natural stone patio ideas of raised bed with Harvest sawn sandstone coping on level with tread of steps up to chairs.
The neat line created by the Harvest sawn sandstone coping and step tread leads the eye in Frederic Whyte's RHS Chelsea 2016 garden.

In his Suffolk Retreat for the Pro-Corda Trust at Chelsea 2016, Frederic Whyte paired step treads and coping in Harvest Sawn Sandstone in a way that encourages the eye to zig-zag across the garden. The continuous line is emphasised by the contrast between the treads and the clay pavers of the steps. It’s a cunning design trick that’s easy to incorporate into a raised garden patio.

Find more patio ideas inspired by award-winning gardens. At London Stone we're always ready to discuss how to make your ideas come to live. Contact us for more information, visit one of our showrooms nationwide.

Post updated: April 2024