By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Hardscaping is a term that refers to the hard elements, or nonliving features, of the landscape. This can include anything from decks and walkways to edging and ornamental features.
Hardscape Garden Design
Hardscapes can be formal or informal, depending on the style of your home and surrounding landscape. With hardscaping, textural variety is important and should be considered carefully. On the one hand, using only one texture or material can make the area appear dull and lifeless. Yet, using too many textures can make the surrounding area appear unattractive and cluttered.
So what do you do? Find balance. It’s generally better to choose no more than two or three textures or hardscape materials. These should be both visually appealing and complement your home’s exterior. This also includes color. When designing with hardscape elements, also consider your drainage patterns.
When planned out carefully, hardscape gardening features can and should improve the overall appearance of the home landscape, not take away from it.
Common Hardscape Features
In addition to patios, decks, driveways, outside structures and the like, there are many types of hardscaping features to choose from.
Walkways and paths are common elements within the landscape, which are oftentimes designed using hardscape materials such as bricks, pavers, woodchips, flagstones, etc.
Retaining walls consisting of rocks, concrete blocks, railroad ties, and similar items are also common hardscape features.
You may also find hardscaping features such as wooden or stone steps and various types of edging materials included within the hardscape garden design.
Additional Hardscaping Ideas
When choosing hardscape features for the home, consider their overall purpose in addition to your current style or theme. Different areas of the landscape may require various hardscape elements based on their purpose.
For instance, play areas might benefit from using shredded tires, which are soft enough for children to play on and available in various colors. Dining or entertainment areas might require the addition of a deck or patio that is level enough for housing a table and chairs.
Other hardscaping features to consider include accessories and backdrops. These can be important design elements as well. For instance, a sitting garden might be spruced up with the addition of a cozy bench or other comfortable seating.
Water features, statuary, and other ornamental accessories can also be added as hardscape elements.
The use of backdrops, such as fences, could also be included in your hardscaping ideas. These can be used to house attractive climbing plants or to hide unsightly areas.
Many types of mulch, such as bark and pebbles, are considered part of the hardscape too.
Hardscape gardening isn’t difficult. It just requires planning. You want everything in the hardscape to complement the surroundings. Make sure that all of these ‘extras’ match the style of your home and garden.