When contemplating your landscape, it is easy to get swept away in the excitement of selecting colorful flowers and shrubs, but the plantings are only one part of the overall design. Carefully selected hardscape materials are just as important to the aesthetics of your outdoor spaces. The composition of the structural elements—texture, shape, and color—are key to your design. Choosing these materials for your hardscape means finding a balance between function, aesthetics, and budget. Some of the most common elements we employ in a hardscape are stone, concrete, and wood.
The elegance of stone lies in permanence. Man has used stone for millennia to shape and structure the environment. The type of stone and the way it is used in a hardscape define the look and feel of the area. Cut and shaped stones with mortared joints lend a formal tone, while un-cut, dry stacked walls, larger boulders, and occasional flagstones lend a casual, natural feel. Choosing locally available stone minimizes the cost and adds an authentic feel to the hardscape. However, more exotic stone is available if you would like to give your hardscape a unique flair. Either way, including stone in your hardscape is a guaranteed path to stunning outdoor spaces.
Poured concrete and formed concrete products are more economical than natural stone counterparts, primarily because the cost of production is lower. Natural stone must be quarried and transported; concrete products can be made in a plant. Block walls, pavers, and stamped and formed concrete products come in a range of colors and finishes, many of which mimic stone for a natural look and feel. Concrete pavers do not require time to cure, and the joints in the surface allow for drainage from rain and snow. Additionally, should settling or damage occur, a small area of the paved surface can be removed and reinstalled without the need to replace the entire area. Pavers give walkways and patios a custom look, and will stay beautiful for as long as you own your home.
Wood is a valuable material in a hardscape. Wood is inexpensive, widely available, and is known universally for its workability, strength, and beauty. However, wood is constantly under physical, biological, and chemical attack in our Midwestern climate. Using wood that is naturally resistant to these attacks, like douglas fir, cedar, and teak, will extend the life of the wooden structures—fences, pergolas, and arbors–in your yard. If that all seems like a lot to consider, feel free to contact All-N-1 Landscape for a consultation on your hardscape. Our Landscape Architects work with these materials every day. We know the limitations and benefits of each, making integration of hardscaping elements in your space feel fluid and organic. And, our designers are happy to divide your plan into phases that can be completed as time and budget allow.