Backyard patio with large limestone, next to my art studio out back...

This project took about three weekends to complete...

My dad delivered a couple of buckets of top soil and dumped them in the middle of a square I had premeasured and spraypainted on the grass.  It took a day to level it, set the paver stones and level all the way around to get ready for the limestone topper.  The limestone is massive, so my husband and I really struggled to set them (and reset them) in their jigsaw puzzle arrangement.  Once that was finished, my mom-in-law gave me a quick 'mortar lesson' while here on vacation and I was off and running.  It took about three, 6-8 hour days to finish the mortar work.  The smaller stones were tackled next.  I set them in the positions I wanted them and the hubby and I began insetting them into the ground by shoveling a 'stencil' around each, removing the stone, shoveling out the ground within the stencil to the depth of the stone, and replacing and setting the stone in the hole, backfilling around the edges with the removed sod.  This got the grass growing back in around the stones quickly and gave them the appearance that they'd been there forever.  I would recommend insetting your stonework because you can mow and drive right over it, cutting down on barriers and trimming work.  Plus, it looks very natural.  My goal for this area is for it too look as natural as possible.  To that end, the plants have been planted with their growth over time in mind.  Eventually, this place will look a little like a walk-in jungle :)

Next, I laid out thick newspaper and cardboard around the entire area and in and around the plants within it.  This not only kills the grass/weeds beneath, but also simultaneously helps condition the soil for any future use.  Mulch was then spread over the entire area.  Stones inside the mulch were simply laid on the surface and mulched around so they are the same level height as the inset stones they meet with at the mulch/grass border.

This place is great now, but give it a couple of seasons and it will be A-W-E-S-O-M-E  :)