Hardscape encompasses the textures in your landscape that are literally hard, such as concrete, boulders, planters and water features. Hardscaping elements are inanimate objects that can be man-made in the instance of an outdoor kitchen, or natural in the instance of a stone pancake boulder. These elements are usually built, permanent, solid structures. Well designed hardscaping provides a sense of organization and definition to the living, growing elements of landscape design which we call softscape. Softscape includes shrubs, trees, succulents, annuals, perennials and grasses. Softscape evolves constantly as it grows and adapts to the environment and the seasons.
These two elements coalesce in a pleasing landscape design that creates a balanced and harmonious outdoor living space. Hardscaping includes almost any type of decorative or practical structure in landscape design besides the plant material. There are so many benefits to enhancing your property with hardscaping that we will spend the rest of our post discussing a few different hardscape elements that we really enjoy designing and creating.
Hardscape features like covered patios or pergolas create spaces that will allow you and your family to spend more time outdoors. Sitting under a fan on your patio during our Texas summers will make outdoor activities more comfortable. A charming pathway to a fire pit with seating is a great destination area for fall and winter evenings. Hanging out around a fire with family on fall or winter nights is a great way to unwind after a long day.
Hardscaping also increases the value of your home and makes it more inviting upon each prospective buyer showing. Outdoor living spaces give potential buyers an opportunity to envision themselves having a ball in your backyard. Eighty-four percent of buyers look for an outdoor patio when purchasing a home.
Another hardscaping technique that is very useful in Austin is the use of retaining walls or walls that hold or retain dirt. We use these to create transition from one level of ground to another by cutting into a slope to increase the flat, usable ground both above and below the wall. Hardscaping that is cleverly designed can also decrease erosion from water and rain on properties with slopes or uneven soil. Dry creek beds are another way to prevent erosion or flooding. Dry creek beds divert the water to where we want to the water to travel. When designed well, dry creek beds are a beautiful focal point for a garden when full or waiting for that next rain.
In addition to the practical and aesthetic benefits of incorporating additional hardscape elements into your landscape design, it also creates a more sustainable and water-wise environment. Replacing some turf with gravel or with a combination of pavers and groundcover will require less maintenance and less water use. Well placed pancake boulders or concrete globes are permanent, add interest, create texture and require no maintenance.
What hardscaping project would you love to see in your backyard?