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Hardscaping

The term “hardscape” refers any non-organic landscape element that is deliberately planned and constructed.   It gets its name from the nature of the materials used to build the many forms that constitute this family of landscaping elements.  Most construction materials used in these projects are very hard, and create lasting, durable, and resilient fixed that serve special purposes and add beauty and aesthetic impact to the yard.

Hardscape structures are almost always the first forms built when the time comes to actually implement a residential landscaping design project.   This is due to the powerful visual impact they carry which lends itself so well to the establishment of order and system throughout the property.  Though non-organic themselves, these structures are crucial to the proper showcasing of vibrant colors of garden design and the lush shades of green of a well-manicured lawn. 

The types of hardscape structures that can be added to a yard are truly many and varied.  Elements such as paved sidewalks, stepping stone pathways, brick walkways, atriums, courtyards, and custom patios are just a few examples.  Many people also like to have more elaborate and sophisticated structures built, such as outdoor fireplaces, custom fountains, sports courts, stairways and steps, and garden pergolas.

There are also structures such as retaining walls and masonry planters that serve a vital practical purpose as well as adding vertical impact to the flat Houston landscape

Any material that provides a firm, durable surface can be used to create a hardscape.  Preferably, this material should be decorative as well as functional.  Stone is still the most popular material after thousands of years.  It looks natural and can be used to compliment any landscape design theme.  Another popular material is concrete.  It can be colored and stained to mimic stone, or it can be made to stand out as a unique, decorative statement all its own.  Wood and brick are two other materials that have been around for centuries and show no sign of going away in the years to come.  

In terms of practicality and aesthetics, the benefits that hardscapes add to landscaping are almost too numerous to count.  Some of the more notable of these advantages are discussed as follows:

• Pathways and walkways create transition by providing clear, recognizable transit areas through which traffic moves from one point of interest to another. 
• Paths can also create zones of interest and make a yard look bigger by altering the perspective and depth of the scene.
• Architectural walls can create borders around vegetation and activity zones, magnifying the impact of the vegetation in the process. 
• Retaining walls can be used to change the grade of the Houston landscape. 
• Courtyard walls create enclosed spaces for privacy and conversation.
• Garden pergolas, with their lattice walls, can screen the view with such elements as lattice walls or raftered ceilings partly open to the stars
• Custom patios establish entertainment and seating areas, such as swimming pool patios, luxury spas, and outdoor fireplaces
• Stairways and steps leading to and from outdoor buildings create drama and a sense of grand entrance. 
• Arbors create shade and comfort in the hot, Houston summer sun.
• Masonry constructs add vertical impact that lifts the property above the aesthetic norm.
• Front yard walkways and custom driveways add curb appeal to the edifice of the home. 

In all of these examples, we can see how equally important the aesthetic element of hardscape is to its functional element.  Ideally, there should always be a purposed served by a structure in a way that also pleases the eye.    Some forms, however, are for all intents and purpose pure decoration and nothing more.

An excellent example of such would be outdoor water features such as custom fountains.  Very small architectural walls around patios and morning gardens also do little to create enclosure or true privacy per se, but lend themselves very well to the sense of special place that is set apart visually and distinctively from the rest of the yard.  For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston's fine neighborhoods.   

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  • Below is a list of articles with the most recent ones listed first.
    Stone Planter Walls can Act as Seat Walls
    Why build a wall for seating only when you can also plant a variety of vegetation within its structure? Stone planter walls can act as seat walls around any number of landscape elements. They add vertical impact to the scene, and they act as decorative borders around special points of interest.
    Natural Stone Stairs
    Natural stone stairs will support any style of Houston landscaping. It is true that stone is the most expensive hardscape element, but it is also true that stone offers the greatest return on investment in the form of maximized curb appeal and increased property value.
    How to Know When You Need New Hardscape Ideas
    The quality of your home is directly reflected in the hardscape ideas that you use to support it. Hardscapes are structures such as walkways, patios, terraces, porches, driveways, masonry, and retaining walls. Since 80 percent of your Houston landscape design can consist of any number of these str...
    Brick Garden Walls—More than Just Another Brick in the Wall
    For thousands of years, brick garden walls have been used around homes for protection, decoration and demarcation. Bricks were such a good idea that, since their development, they have changed little through the centuries. We humans learned early on that bricks needed to be standardized in order for...
    Boulder Steps
    Boulder steps are large, natural, attractive pieces of rock cut from large boulders. They are sawn into pieces to create flat surfaces that provide solid footing and firm traction. Normally, the larger part of the boulder is embedded in the ground, leaving the sawn portion to function as a step. ...
    Decorative Stone Gravel
    Decorative stone gravel is often used to make gardens and hardscapes stand out. Gravel is a natural drain, so it is one of the best ways to water plants with an all natural medium. At the same time, gravel keeps weeds from springing up, so it is a key element in low maintenance garden and landscap...
    Rock Gardens
    You may be torn between a love for nature and a tendency toward minimalism. You are too organically oriented, in one sense, to opt for the stark absolutes and industrial forms of contemporary design. On the other hand, you do not want an overgrown yard with so much vegetation that you are constant...
    Wooden Driveway Gates
    There is no doubt that wooden driveway gates make any Houston home look more attractive. When they are closed, they function as an aesthetic front piece to the home façade. You can still see the house peeking over the top of the gate, but the lower part of it is remains concealed. This creates a ...
    Custom Fireplaces Compliment and Enhance Outdoor Architecture
    Custom fireplaces complement the architecture of your home and extend its aesthetic into the exterior world of your outdoor living space. You do not have to settle for a generic, portable outdoor fireplace if you want ambience, mystique, and superior outdoor aesthetic. Exterior Worlds can bui...
    Landscaping with Stones
    The universality of stone make it possible to use as both an accent support element or a primary element in landscape design depending on what is most appropriate to your home and lawn.
    Paver Landscaping
    Some pavers are pre-cast masonry pieces made of blocks or concrete. Stone pavers are pre-cut rocks that have been quarried in such a way as to provide a firm, flat surface upon which to walk. They are also cut to interlock together so they can make a solid surface that will absorb the shock of the...
    Flagstone Landscaping
    Flagstone landscaping is one of the finest styles of stone landscaping. Flagstone is a hard, thin stone that is geologically similar to sandstone. Its properties make it very well-suited to hardscape designs that require a hard, durable surface that will not crack or wear. Because each piece feat...
    Landscape Brick Walls
    Landscape brick walls are a versatile form of masonry that can significantly improve the curb appeal of a property. Since so many homes in Houston are made from brick, walls made from the same material prove a ready and effective decorative compliment to their architecture.
    Custom Hardscapes
    In landscaping lingo, hardscapes are the permanent features constructed on your property that serve both a functional and decorative purpose. Custom hardscapes are those structures that are designed specifically for you and your site. A few examples of custom hardscapes include your swimming pool co...
    Hardscape Plans
    The term hardscape refers to any permanent structure that is constructed on your property. Hardscape plans involve the design and build out outdoor features that serve both functional and decorative purposes. Textures, and sometimes even colors, are commonly woven into the surfaces of these forms ...
    Hardscape Design
    The term hardscape refers to landscaping structures constructed from inorganic materials that work toward sculpting the overall landscaping design. These structures include many things such as driveways, patios, walls, fencing, and drainage. The design of hardscape must always be treated as a very...
    Concrete Patios
    It has become a viable aesthetic, especially in contemporary and urban designs. Nature gives concrete its appeal—the qualities of durability and convenience. Artistry gives it flair—simplicity, gracefulness and the freedom of a blank canvas. All these attributes come together in a concrete patio.
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