The living part of your landscape is only part of the design package. Hardscaping is also important for a fully functional yard. Hardscaping includes all the paved surfaces in the yard, such as the patio, garden paths, and even retaining walls. A good hardscape design can complete the look of your home's exterior.
1. Know Your Material Options
When it comes to hardscaping, there are many options. Natural stone is popular for paths but can get expensive if you have a large area to complete. Concrete pavers and bricks come in a variety of colors and designs, including some that are even able to mimic the look of natural stone. Poured concrete is popular for large areas, like patios, but can be bland if you don't invest in decorative treatments like concrete dyeing and stamping. Research all the available options to ensure you make the best choice.
2. Consider Maintenance Needs
Maintenance depends on the hardscaping material and the installation method. In damp areas where moss or algae is an issue, for example, you may want to avoid porous materials like sandstone, since they stain easily and can be damaged by pressure washing. As for installation methods, if you opt for a dry-fit paver pathway with sand joints, you must be prepared to refill the joints every year or two so that weeds don't invade the paved area. Check the necessary maintenance for any material you choose to use.
3. Map Out Drainage Issues
Poor drainage can destroy hardscaping. Water can cause paved areas to shift, leading to uplift, sinking, or cracks. Decorative or retaining walls can buckle or bow if water can't drain through them. The area must be graded so that a clear path of drainage exists, and then drains will need to be installed to route the water accordingly. This may mean installing perforated drain pipes under walkways and patios, or putting a drain pipe through a wall so water doesn't collect behind.
4. Avoid Monotony
It can be easy to pick out one type of material and use it for all of the hardscaping, but that can create a monotonous design. Instead, combine different but complementary materials for different uses. For example, if you like the look of natural stone, install cobblestone pathways and combine them with dry-fit stone retaining walls. Or, if your home is red brick, skip brick for your patio and instead go with stamped concrete or dark gray flagstones.
Contact a hardscape contractor for more help.