Hardscape surfaces bring structure and interest to your garden landscape
Hardscapes—the non-plant material of your landscape design—play a critical part of any garden landscape project. When combined with green, growing plants, they create an outdoor living environment that invites you, your family and friends to come in, to sit and enjoy, tomeander and explore.
Types of Hardscapes • Pool decking. This hardscape runs from the swimming pool to the house, connecting these two major areas. Popular choices are flagstone, brick or wood. Special attention needs to be paid to using non-slippery surfaces since it is part of a wet area.
• Outdoor Fireplace. Both functional and aesthetic, fireplaces provide warmth in the fall and winter, as well as add ambiance to the garden. The look of this particular hardscape can range from a grand to simple.
• Wooden decks and arbors. Although most people attach them to the house, decks can also be freestanding. Other popular hardscape structures made of wood include arbors, pergolas, loggias and gazebos that create a decorative entrance or frame a focal point. They are attractive ways to make a strong statement or point to a sense of something happening on the other side of a fence. • Gardens pathways. Paths direct the eye and connect different spaces. They can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the material used.
• Retaining walls. A retaining wall is usually a short wall used to hold the soil in place. A good landscape designer will construct these hardscapes in such a way that they blend in or create visual interest.
• Seat walls. These low walls bring definition to a space—and also double as seating when entertaining large groups.
• Driveways and motor courts. Typically vast expanses of concrete, driveways and motor courts can be constructed in ways that complement the house and landscape design.
For Your Consideration There are many different types of hardscape materials. They include: • Concrete. A popular choice, concrete is durable, inexpensive and can be poured into a site-specific shape. It can be colored, stained or textured to create long-lasting beauty.
• Pavers. A man-made brick that recalls old world charm, pavers can be installed to create intricate patterns, including cobblestone. Laid on sand or a concrete base, usually without mortared joints, they are environmentally friendly. • Wood decking. When choosing wood as your hardscape material, the byword is dutiful and beautiful. Pressure-treated pine is the mainstay of decks, but cedar and a South American wood called ipe (pronounced ee-pay) are also popular. Cedar, which has a natural resistance to decay, is an exceptional choice for arbors because of its dimensional stability. It lies flat, stays straight, retains fasteners and provides a firm base for many types of stains and paints. Wood decking is great for tree preservation because of its very small footprint when combined with proper post-construction techniques.
• Stone. Types of stone used in hardscape construction include cut limestone, sandstone, quartzite and slate. These materials are available in cut pieces, like square, rectangles or irregular pieces. Stone is normally laid on a reinforced concrete slab (usually 4” thick), cemented, and then grouted between the joints.
• Cast stone. A masonry product that provides ornamental or functional features to buildings and other structures, cast stone gives the appearance of natural stones such as limestone, granite, slate, travertine or marble. They are made from fine and coarse aggregates, Portland cement, mineral oxide color pigments, chemical admixtures and water. Shapes include squares for paving, columns, planters, door surrounds and are available in virtually any color.
Drain Away An important component of any hardscape project, a landscape drainage system should be taken seriously—especially with Houston’s infamous torrential downpours. It makes the difference between having usable hard surfaces or dealing with seasonal small lakes and swamps. A skillful landscape designer can design patio and driveway drains in a way so that they invisible or, at the very least, discrete.
Lights! Action! Landscape lighting and water—such as an outdoor water fountain or luxury swimming pool—can bring your hardscape elements to life. If used, lighting and water will, of course, require electrical and plumbing work. However, both elements really ratchet up the impact. Lighting makes your landscape a 24-hour-a-day delight and water provides movement, creating both visual and auditory pleasures. They are the killer apps of the landscape design world.
Call the experts at Exterior Worlds about putting hardscapes into your landscape design—or improving existing ones: 713-827-2255.
For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston's fine neighborhoods.
Used in ancient Egypt, the pergola was a common feature of early Renaissance gardens in Italy and subsequently throughout Europe. Its purpose was, and still is, to provide a foundation on which climbing plants can grow to give shade. Houston landscapers use pergolas as a type of landscaping structur...
A patio gazebo gives you a shaded vantage point from which to take in the entirety of the Houston landscape around you. Such a structure represents one of the most versatile activity centers you can have Exterior Worlds build on your property. Partly outdoor building, partly open to the air, a gaz...
Patios can also be any size you need them to by. They can also be built out of whatever materials best support your Houston landscaping design. Common examples include pavers, flagstone, brick, stone, concrete, and decorative concrete. There have even been occasions where we have built wooden pat...
Sitting with your spouse in front of an exterior fireplace can make even the coldest night of the year emotionally warm and romantic. Not only can you have an intimacy you may only have thought possible in the comfort of your own living room, but you can have privacy as well.
A backyard oasis provides many of the things that an oasis in the desert provides. It distinguishes from the rest of the landscape with vertical impact. It provides the lush surroundings of vegetation, and the calming presence of water. Most importantly, it represents a place for a tired mind and...
Landscape patio design is important because it has the potential to utterly transform the entire aesthetic of your property in an amazing fashion. It creates interest and appeal that draw people to special space. Near the home, it creates transition from indoor living to outdoor living, and in rem...
One of the most impressive effects that a Houston outdoor patio has on a landscape is the creation of focal points. Its very presence will draw people toward an intended point of interest where comfort and entertainment turn outdoor space into outdoor living. Such a structure can be added to any l...
Outdoor kitchens are the newest trend in Houston landscaping. These structures create a focus point similar to the kitchen inside the home. It becomes the center of all the action and entertainment. In other words, outdoor kitchens give you a natural gathering place in a natural setting.
Outdoor fireplaces are hot. A 2005 survey taken by the Hearth, Patio & Barbeque Association revealed that Americans spent nearly $150 billion on home remodeling of which one-third of that amount went towards adding outdoor living areas to their landscape design.