Hardscape Materials

stone retaining wall

Hardscape Materials

The non-living parts of a landscape such as walkways, patios and patio covers are considered hardscape, and they make up a key component of your landscape. Hardscape is the hard stuff, the inanimate parts of the garden that include woodwork and masonry. This even includes the lawn gnome sitting outside your door. As long as it ‘ s not living, it can be considered hardscape.

Anything from stones to pine wood are acceptable to use in your hardscape design. This article will look at which materials are available for use as well as which are best suited for certain projects.

Stone

Not only is stone one of the most durable hardscape materials, but it’s also one of the prettiest. With such an abundance of colors, shapes, and sizes to choose from, there is bound to be a type of stone to fit the style and theme of your garden.

If you plan to create something out of stone, such as a walkway, you can either cut your stone to form smooth edges, or break it up for a more mosaic feel. Stone is very versatile and can be carried throughout your garden’s theme. Incorporate stone pieces into benches or walls… create borders around plant beds… line a walkway with flat stones. Scatter small stones about amongst flowers and plants, or create a riverbed feel. Whether it ‘ s for a functional or decorative purpose; there’s no limit to the ways you can enhance your garden with beautiful, durable stone.

rocks flowersAre you looking for a good starting point to begin decorating your garden? There are many different types of rocks to choose from, in all sorts of colors and sizes. Rocks don’t necessarily need to be precut or even broken down; gravel from a local gardening store will suffice. Even the rocks that you dig out of your garden can be set aside for later decorative use. The more natural looking, the better. Depending on what you plan to do with your hardscape, the stones can be purchased from a garden store or just picked up from around your property.

If your hardscape is meant to be more functional and serve a purpose such as a bench or wall then finding a company that specializes in rocks such as KRC Rock might be in your best interest. Flatrocks for building are provided as well as an abundance of other types such as river rocks, tile, pavers, and landscape boulders. While decorating your garden does not always require the help of a professional, it is recommended that if you would like to build something from stone you should seek professional help.

Flagstone

rock pathFlagstone is a flat type of stone most often used for pathways and patio areas, but also fits a wide variety of other purposes including fireplaces, steps and fences. Flagstone can be colored to match your garden’s theme – choose from pink, beige, gold or brown tones.

Some of the most popular types of flagstone are the Arizona sandstones that come in a wide range of colors from beige (Buff) through to red ( Rosa ). Other than requiring the occasional sweeping, this hardscape material is very low maintenance and visually appealing.

Wood

Another popular hardscape material, wood comes in different varieties, each with their own characteristic color and grain pattern. While not as sturdy as stone, wood can be just as stunning visually. You may wish to choose wood for your garden structures, fences, seating, plant bed borders, decks, or even as sculptures in a garden.

pergolaDriftwood can serve a decorative purpose in the garden and placed artistically throughout. You might tray arranging your driftwood pieces to form a shape… or perhaps you’d prefer to simply sit your driftwood atop a bed of gravel or amongst low-lying plants.

For more ideas on the creative use of wood in your garden, refer to our patio furniture article. If you plan to build or create wood furniture yourself, redwood and cedar are two commonly used wood types in outdoor furniture that are both durable and long standing. Oftentimes, already pre-constructed sheds or patio furniture can be bought and simply placed in the garden.

Concrete

Another useful hardscape material, concrete can be seen in pathways, patios, and driveways. While traditional concrete is white and has no pattern, a large number of techniques have been developed to add a bit of artistic flair to a plain slab of concrete — for example, stamping and coloring. Stamping involves leaving an imprint in wet concrete using something akin to a giant rubber stamp. Coloring requires taking either pigment to the wet concrete in advance of pouring, or laying down color after the concrete as been set.

As a material, concrete is convenient and long-lasting, as opposed to wood which might require replacing at some point during your garden’s lifetime. Concrete lasts as long as the structure that is formed from it doesn’t break. It also can be used as a binder upon which one can place rocks.

Gravel

Gravel refers to a specific type of rock size that is smaller than cobble stones but bigger than sand. Gravel is typically available loose and in an assortment of colors; however, if you prefer river bedyour gravel’s hue to be uniform, you’ll find one-color gravel available at most home improvement stores.

This hardscape material is most often used in walkways, dry river beds, and water features. It is quite afordable when bought in bulk and really works well with a wide variety of plants. As a material, gravel is very low maintenance and works to save water. If you plan to use it in your garden, consider which plants would be covered by it. Do you have enough room for a riverbed of gravel? Perhaps your gravel would make a good plant bed liner.

Decomposed Granite

decomposed graniteJust as its name announces, decomposed granite is simply granite that has decomposed into smaller pieces called gravel. Often red-brown in color, this hardscape material is both sustainable and environmentally friendly. Decomposed granite is most commonly seen built into walkways, patio areas, and driveways. However, its uses range from being mixed into soil to covering the ground around plants. By itself, decomposed granite is a relatively inexpensive material and creates a casual feel in whatever way it is used.

Decomposed granite can either be loose or packed with binders and resins. When loose it is not considered permanent – so if you do choose this as a hardscape materaial for your garden, know that it will have to be maintained occasionally. Decomposed granite can be compacted and used to create a pathway or even an informal seating area since it has a more stable surface.

Interested in learning more about the many options in hardscape material that you can use to create magic in your garden? Contact us today.

 

Diane Downey - The Yard Fairy, low water, xeriscape and low maintenance landscape design Since 2003 Diane E Downey has owned The Yard Fairy, a North San Diego County based award winning landscape consultancy, design, installation and maintenance company creating low water, low maintenance landscapes that are as functional as they are pleasing to the eye. She continues to share her passion for landscaping with others via garden consultations, garden coaching and the community based site that The Yard Fairy has become.