The Elements of Landscape Design – What is Hardscape Design and Hardscaping?

Many homeowners are familiar with landscaping and associate the term with a well groomed lawn and a pickup truck full of men with great tans and dirt under their fingernails…they work for a living!

Landscaping is synonymous with cut grass, weedless flower beds, and pickup trucks parked out front once a week. Interestingly, landscaping and landscape design has taken on a whole new face. With the integration of hardscape design and hardscaping, as well as water feature design and creation, a full-service landscaping firm is about so much more than cut grass and weedless flower beds!

Interestingly, and particularly for the uninitiated, the term “hardscaping” or the phrase “hardscape design” may be as familiar as Swahili or Afrikans to the average property owner, commercial or residential, in the United States.

Hardscape design and hardscaping is a subcategory of landscaping that refers to the usage of inanimate objects in landscape design. As the subcategory implies, hardscape design and hardscaping refers to “the hard stuff,” components such as metal (i.e., iron), brick, stone, concrete, and timber.

Hardscape design is just that, the design process, creating a plan to integrate inanimate objects into a hardscape. Hardscaping includes patio and deck construction, the creation of a stone or brick walkways, stone wall construction, creating a wooden fence or gate, and so much more. The application of hardscape design and hardscaping is limited only by the design team’s imagination.

Significantly, hardscape design and its implementation, hardscaping, is not limited to large-scale undertakings. In fact, any metal, stone, brick, or concrete decoration integrated into your existing landscape is hardscaping.

When planning a big project from concept through design and on to construction, it is crucial to consider both hardscaping and softscaping elements. Creating the proper plan, considering all aspects of an intelligent, well thought-out landscape and hardscape design is crucial to its success.

A question that must be addressed early on is what comes first?

Do we begin with the hardscaping or the softscaping (the landscaping)?

In most cases, it is advisable to begin with the hardscaping elements because they are the easiest to work with. By beginning with the hardscaping, you lessen the risk of injury to the softscaping (the plants), which may be damaged or destroyed by the physical exertion required by most hardscaping projects.

When integrating hardscape design elements into an overall landscape design, many favor curved objects instead of straight lines. By recognizing how hardscape and softscape elements compliment each other, an aesthetically pleasing design is the end result.

Creating curved walls and walkways may soften the landscape, counteracting the harsh, straight lines offered in most housing construction, sidewalks, and driveways. Consider a curvilinear walkway or path of stone to break up an area and create visual interest. Consider a water feature, flower bed, shrub or tree line, balanced with just the right hardscape elements.

Creating a curving path or walkway will also allow you and your visitors to wander through your landscape, taking in and enjoying the experience and the view.

Balancing landscape design and hardscaping, along with water features, into a unifying theme and a complete presentation is the real value of a full-service landscaping firm. Understanding these elements and how to apply them is crucial to your landscape design firm’s success.

Considering Landscape Design Ideas

Landscaping is one of the most excellent methods by which you can change your property or home. It is one of the most effective ways to make your home an even better and more beautiful place to live in. It lets you change the scenery several times through the gardening season. So you have always got a fresh, vibrant arrangement. Add pool decking, change the coping and tile, set variable pool depths, create multilevel pools and decking, and much more. Pools and spas can be any shape and size.

You should plan and develop three different plans that range from highest to lowest cost or most change to least change. The more experimenting you do on paper, the more likely you will avoid future problems when implementing your final plan into practice. Your garden design ideas are what count; but if you are going to use a landscaping specialist, don’t let a “professional” landscaper tell you something that changes your idea. While they may be full of useful advice and information on the practical matters of plants to consider, care of your lawn, and color combinations, professional landscape designers exist to save you time, give you tips, etc.

Landscape design ideas are not finished or complete till a water feature or fountain is in place. They are extremely decorative and they provide a sense of tranquillity and peacefulness. Landscape design ideas are sometimes a little tough to come up with. There may be limited space or limited funds to develop exactly what you think you want.

Should you add a few little trees? Which garden furniture would look better? The goal is to have flowering trees throughout spring and summer, fall foliage in autumn and good structure in winter. You could also place a small fountain or a piece of sculpture on a garden wall and surround it with small trees or shrubs. Placing a painting, mirrors, faux window frames, tilework, iron or found art on a back wall, visible from your deck or patio, can change the environment completely.

Another of your backyard landscaping ideas, and often a practical one, would be to include an attractive shed. This can be placed in a corner. This will be the basis of the design, insuring that the design will fit the lot, enhance the house, and create a beautiful and comfortable yard using suitable plants, paths, hard surfaces, garden structures, outdoor lighting and water features.

When planning your landscape design, water is an important element to consider. More importantly, you need to think about how much you are likely to be watering. Lighting is the essential element in illuminating your landscaping vision (pardon the pun)! It allows you to get nighttime use out of your landscape, and further, to add mystique, appeal, and security. While plants are the base of any landscape design, water is perhaps the most important element to consider when designing your landscape.

Ten Design Tips For a Perfect Landscaping Project

Warm weather, sunshine and rolling green landscapes provide the perfect panorama of Phoenix landscapes. However, those that create picturesque landscape and pool design have their work cut out for them. Designers must be knowledgeable about how to work around mountains and hillside drainage and irrigation. The following tips will help you decide what you want in pool and landscape design and the reality of what can actually be done.

Combine the design of both pool and landscape at the same time.
Designing the pool and the landscape at the same time, can head off any construction problems that might involve irrigation or drainage. It is always easier to find an alternative route to a foreseeable problem from the front end. Designing plans for both from the beginning, will also ensure there is enough room for the project.

Design the Largest Pool and Patio Your Budget Will Allow.
Phoenix is known for its outdoor entertainment. Design this party spot with the maximum number of people you anticipate would be entertained at any one time.

Protect Your Scenic View
A good landscape designer will help you design the patio and pool with the best view. You chose your house to be where it is for a reason. If the view was one of the reasons, make sure it can be seen when you can see it. On the other hand, if the view is what you want to cover up, make sure your landscape designer knows this also.

Follow the Rule.
The rule for interior decorating is to place items around the house in singles or in groups of three. Use the same rule outside when landscaping. Plant trees, shrubs and potted plants in singles, by their self, or in groups of three.

Winter spring, Summer, Fall, Plant Something Pretty for them All.
A good landscaper will know plants and what season they bloom. Make sure something pretty will be blooming in each season.

Create a Focus of Attention.
Focal points grab your attention and then guide the eye to the rest of the project. A large strategically placed fountain or beautiful large outdoor fireplace and kitchen, will easily attract attention.

Add Texture to the Design.
The creation of texture will increase the visual affect. This can be done economically by the simple addition of fish ponds, little rivers, walking trails or other breaks in the entertainment area.

Add personality by the Addition of Decoration.
Make your new patio area ooze with you. Add ferns, yard ornaments, outdoor furniture and other decorative items that depict your personality.

Seek Advice From a Contractor.
Let a reputable contractor go over the design plans. He may see something that could save you time and money.

How Will Time Treat This Project?
Take note of any suggestions the landscaper may make to increase value and longevity. You want to use your new pool and designed for you landscape for a lifetime.