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Everyone knows that your garden landscape consists of all the living plants in your yard. The flowers, shrubs and trees that grow in your garden make up the softscape or landscaping. You may not be as familiar with the term "hardscape". This term refers to outdoor design elements such as decks, patios, steps, walkways, arbors and fences. Structural garden elements made of brick, concrete or other hard materials are called hardscape. Read on for tips on how to make hardscape work for you.
Make a Plan
You don't need an expensive landscape designer to make a blueprint for the hardscape in your yard but it is a good idea to have an overall plan before you start. Remember that hardscape elements are often structural and permanent or semi-permanent. They are not as easy to move as a bed of peonies. Once installed, hardscape generally stays in place for years. If you plan to install hardscape elements over time, having a plan will help you visualize how the elements eventually will integrate together and help you create a unified look.
One use of hardscape is to install walkways that lead visitors to a hidden surprise in the garden such as a trickling fountain, colorful flower bed, quiet reading bench or other design element. Walls, arbors and pergolas can be used to break up the space and even create outdoor rooms that seem like an extension of your house. Creating separate spaces can sometimes increase the usefulness of your garden, particularly when entertaining. Make sure to balance your hardscape elements throughout the garden. You don't want your yard to seem lopsided by crowding everything into one corner.
Don't Forget Drainage
Get advice on how water affects your property before installing your hardscape. If you construct a beautiful stone wall without anywhere for water to escape when it rains, you may end up with cracks that can destroy the stonework. Walls and paths made of brick, stone and concrete can all fall victim to poor drainage.
When choosing materials to use in your hardscape, think about the feeling you want to evoke in your garden. If your home is modern, think about using sleek slate or concrete outside. If your home is cottage style, consider river rock walls or walkways.You may want to echo the materials used in your home or create a completely different environment.
Go All Out
Once the ideas start to fly, you may not want to stop them. These days, hardscape can include an outdoor fire pit, a koi pond or a built-in barbecue. With a little planning and imagination, hardscape can help you turn your yard into a true oasis.
Why Do It
Hardscape that is well constructed and made of quality materials can increase the curb appeal and value of your home. If you have no intention of selling your property, the addition of hardscape can increase the beauty and usefulness of your yard. Once the work is done, you may find yourself stringing up a hammock and spending a little more time relaxing in your garden.