Are you looking for a way to enhance your outdoor space? If so, consider implementing the 10 hardscape ideas found here.
If you’re trying to find a way for your yard to shout a unique theme, look no further than here.
Done correctly, nothing says “cottage” or “oasis” quite like hardscaping. But what is hardscaping and how can you utilize it the correct way?
We’ll show you all the hard-earned tips here. Use these hardscape ideas to create your own piece of backyard heaven.
Before we give you all the goodies, it’s important to know the basics.
If you’ve recently taken a dip into the landscaping business, you may hear two terms often referred to: hardscaping and softscaping. These are the elements that make up your backyard and landscaping in general.
Hardscape involves pretty much anything hard to the touch (hence, the name) and man-made. It comprises a list of inanimate objects which can be moved around a landscape:
- Retaining walls
- Outside patios, etc.
Although these elements do not grow or change, they can be natural instead of manufactured. Stone, for instance, is part of hardscaping.
Hardscaping also has drastic influences on the environment that may not be found as often in softscape elements. They can impact runoff, halt vegetation growth and leave larger carbon footprints.
Softscape elements are the polar opposite of hardscape ones. Think of soft, growing things that transform and bloom and you’ll have a good picture of what softscape includes.
Anything that is categorized is softscape is alive:
They can bring a more natural, homey look to any landscape. Allowed to run amok, however, softscape elements can also ruin a property’s potential.
The Ideal Mix
When hardscape and softscape elements are combined, you’ll find a landscape that is truly breathtaking. Here are some basic tips to keep in mind as you peruse the hardscape design ideas to come.
Neil Sperry of the Star-Telegram points out that curves are found in nature; implementing them into the landscape gives a more natural appeal. This look has been all the rage for the past couple of decades.
However, geometric shapes also have their place and can contrast nicely with all the bends and gentle twists. They can create some interesting and unique perspectives.
Don’t Overdo It
Think of landscaping as a painting. Your eyes should follow a natural path through the yard, and they should have time to hover in spots and enjoy. If too much is shoved into one yard, it becomes a hodgepodge monstrosity that confuses the gaze.
Match the House
Consider what would look good with your house’s exterior and its interior.
If your house’s exterior is metal, you might incorporate more softscape elements outside to soften the appearance. If it’s bendy and curved, consider a number of hardscaping tactics outside.
But the inside is just as important. Ideally, the landscaping outside should blend with the interior design, leading visitors seamlessly from one to the other. Ask local landscaping groups like HTA Companies for ideas about meshing the two.
Choose an overall theme, and stick to it!
Landscaping is flexible. You might be surprised at the things you can accomplish. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at North Carolina’s Land of Oz theme park.
The List of Handy Hardscape Ideas
Are you ready for some transformative hardscape design ideas? Here, we’ll cover some of the most used tricks. But don’t forget to put your own twist on each.
Walkways provide great avenues that lead the eye (and visitors) from one destination to another, appropriately breaking up the landscape.
The fantastic thing about this method is its flexibility. You can have concrete paths winding along between trees or across the open grass, strewn with growing moss or ivy.
You can have flagstone or paver bricks for the quaint English look.
Straight paths will give a more commercialized, sidewalk appearance, but they work great with lots of plants on either side. Curvy walkways are fantastic if you have lots of space to fill and spots where people will naturally want to stop and gape at your splendid landscape.
Furthermore, walkways leading to the entrance are like open arms to visitors, welcoming them in and drawing the eye’s attention to the house.
There are several basic materials for retaining and garden walls that can give breathtaking touches to a landscape:
- Railroad ties
- Treated timber
- Block walls
- Concrete stone
- Manufactured block
- Local stone
Garden walls can add layers and new planes. A lone tree, for instance, looks somehow mysterious when a wall is built around it.
While more natural materials here can certainly add appeal, don’t forget that manufactured blocks come in a variety of colors, textures, and sizes. You’ll have more room for creativity if you have a unique theme in mind.
Walls are best suited for large, open areas. Stuffed into a small backyard, however, it may only make the area appear cluttered and claustrophobic.
Containers are also excellent ways to break up the landscape and let the eye hover. Use their insides to your advantage; have colorful flowers or other material spilling out to contrast with the usual dark hues found in many containers. If you’re feeling bold, switch it up: have a bright pot with a bright plant to create a happy, light appearance.
Garden vignettes, where an area is made up of many plants in containers, are especially useful for smaller yards. Just be sure to include several varying sizes, heights, styles and textures!
Kegs, barrels, and pots can also be a great way to merge softscape elements with hardscape ones in larger yards.
For a welcoming look, post a few containers with plants on either side of your entrance.
4. Pavilions and Gazebos
Pavilions are great additions to larger areas. Furthermore, they can provide great seating areas with a wide flexibility for entertainment. Placed next to a pool, it can provide both a function and an artsy appeal.
Gazebos are just as wonderful, and they can be used with practically any yard scale. Nothing screams “elegance” quite like a gazebo.
Both of these options provide activity areas and locations where minimal maintenance will be needed. Try to place them outside of your lawn area to minimize work, and consider adding a touch of home: a grill, tables, games or a TV beneath.
5. Fireplaces with Sitting Areas
Who said a fireplace has to be in the house? It can provide a comfortable, relaxing feel to any landscape.
While gazebos and patios can offer something similar, they’re not necessary to complete this look. All you need is good lighting, some outside furniture, and a fire pit to make this work.
And, really, it’s a fashionable way to make your interior design shake hands with your landscaping.
6. Water Options
In possibly one of the most classic blends of hardscape and softscape, you’ll find water. Whether it’s a fountain, a waterfall leading to a pool or a coy pond, these options can add an elegant touch.
They can also be an axis point that draws visitors. Consider adding a rest bench nearby for a more relaxing motif.
7. Fences and Gates
Fences and gates have more functions than just keeping people out. They can separate large plots of land, lead the eye and add intensity to a landscape.
Consider stepped designs to show height contrast for smaller areas or frosted glass if you want to block views. Color makes a difference, too. The right hue can complement other landscape items to make them pop.
If you have a drab-colored fence, don’t worry; ivy can liven up the feel of it to give it a wood cottage appearance.
Statues can add anything from old-world charm to a Gothic presence. Because art arouses emotions and thought, these additions are great for more calming landscapes.
Oftentimes, this is an effective way to mix landscape with culture and history. They can also be effective at portraying themes that will be found inside the house.
Small bridges over water sources are the epitome of picturesque. If you don’t have any water in the area, don’t worry; you can even use bridges for rivers of flowers or thematic images.
They can also act as transitional spaces connecting one area to another and focal points where people will naturally pause.
Outdoor patios are extremely popular and a great area for entertainment and relaxing getaways. They can combine almost all of the hardscaping elements we’ve discussed, which is why this category is saved for last.
They can be stuffed full of plants for a lively, outdoors look or they can include sofas and a pool. They could have art and statues for a cultural look. Or they could be full of frosted glass and hanging plants for mystery.
Use your home’s style to inform the patio’s. Consider the texture of the walls and any surrounding fences. Ceilings are also important here; trellises can give beautiful patterns, but perhaps a glass dome is more suitable.
What Will Your Landscape Say?
So what will your dream yard look like? With the right hardscape ideas, you can turn almost any plot of land into your own personal paradise.
And you’re going to want a good view of that paradise, right? So consider trying out a balcony. See 27 great examples of the most breathtaking balconies and imagine what you may one day be looking out upon.
The yard is your canvas, and you are the artist.