Sidewalks, walkways, and patios are all synonymous with the term hardscape. According to the dictionary, hardscape is a man-made feature used in the landscape as contrasted with any form of vegetation. The materials are endless from concrete to pavers, wall blocks, and tile. Outdoor living is a growing trend that can be as simple as a small walkway to an elaborate design creating spaces for different uses throughout the year.
Hardscape is a lasting addition to a new or existing landscape that can enhance the outdoor aesthetics and provide space for entertainment or a quiet evening with family. The design possibilities are endless and are only limited by the imagination of the homeowner.
The design process is important for selecting the best location, materials, and overall beauty for years to come. It can also prevent costly mistakes that could have been avoided with some preplanning. Let’s begin this dream together to help create the perfect hardscape!
The first steps in the design process are the use and location. Traditionally the backyard is the private space where the front yard is considered the public area. Finally, the third portion of a residential space is called the service area for things like trash cans, recycle bins, and composting to name a few. Determine which area is best for the pathway and keep its use in mind.
Narrow the possibilities for each project. Form a general idea of what the use of each area will become to help narrow the material choices. For instance, if a pathway for a pool is desired than smooth concrete or exposed aggregate would be ideal as opposed to decomposed granite that creates a mess in the pool because it sticks to dry and wet feet.
The choices of shapes, sizes, and supplies are necessary to create a list of needed materials and tools. Other things to consider are drainage, slope, and any permits or residential restrictions to follow. Permits for building additional hardscape are required in some places in North America, and it is something to keep in mind when doing a DIY project.
What materials are available? Most people are limited to local retail suppliers and may desire materials that are more in line with their vision. A professional’s resources and expertise are necessary when the design reaches a point of unavailable supplies, tools or industry knowledge is needed. Consider delivery costs when creating the expense sheet, and availability for the time frame of the installation. Hardscape materials are heavy and require some special equipment for handling the pallets. Also, keep in mind the material for the base of the hardscape. This is the most critical part of the project and is not the place to pinch pennies.
What is the budget? Materials range in prices from a couple of dollars per paver to hundreds for outdoor marble tile or slate. Renting tools alone can cost thousands of dollars for larger projects in addition to the materials and delivery. These are things to consider for the do-it-yourself individuals.
Installing hardscape is a creative way to extend the use of the landscape. If the project becomes too overwhelming in any part of the process remember that the local Grounds Guys can help you along the way!