When thinking of landscaping most folks tend to dream about flowers, shrubs and trees. Plant life is extremely important in a landscape but it’s only one element. Here are some terms to familiarize your self with, Softscape: refers to the vegetation portion of the landscape. Hardscape: refers to the structures of the landscape or garden like walkways, retaining walls, patios, fences and decks. Aquascapes: refers to the fluid elements of the landscape such as ponds, streams and waterfalls. Hardscaping represents the foundation and anchor of you landscape plans. Hardscaping should be planed out carefully and is usually implemented before the softscape or aquascape.
Hardscaping serves some very useful and practical functions. However by choosing the right materials hardscaping can also add much aesthetic value to your landscape whether in your backyard retreat or by giving you more curb appeal. Some of the ways hardscape can be used for both aesthetics and function are enhancing privacy, creating boundaries, leveling the topography, providing shelter and reducing lawn maintenance.
Some other examples of hardscaping are things like fences, gazeboes and pergolas all of which can be used to define your outdoor living spaces. Fences may be used to give privacy and create walls around your outdoor living room while structures like pergolas can be used to create ceilings. One or both of these will help to create that room atmosphere. The flooring in your outdoor room is another potion of this it may be wood if you have selected a deck or some type of pavers with color that matches the stone work on your house.
Interlocking pavers come in either Natural Stone, or manufactured concrete aggregates, or molded clay. All three of these types of materials have many colors and textures to choose from. When using any of these materials in the landscape you should select materials that compliment any surrounding structures such as houses, pools and pergolas. This will help in bringing the design of the whole area together and keep the elements of the landscape in balance with their surroundings.
Some hardscape designs can be very elaborate while others will tend to be much more subtle of a feel. This is achieved by the materials you chose. Bold color with materials that have clean geometric lines will give you a very modern feel, but by using more earth tones and textured materials you can achieve a look and feel that is very ‘Old World’.