In the landscaping world there are hardscapes and softscapes. The softscapes consist of your lawn and plants. The hardscapes are the patios, pathways and retaining walls. They are generally constructed of ‘hard’ materials like natural stone, brick, pavers or concrete.
Just like the foundation of your home, the base your hardscape is laid on is critical to the overall integrity of the hardscape, regardless of whether it is a patio, walkway, steps or retaining wall. Your hardscape will need the proper base, leveling and tamping as recommended for the type of material you are using and for your geographical area. Creating proper drainage for rainwater is another critical item in the engineering of hardscapes and is the item that is most often overlooked by do-it-yourselfers.
The most beautiful hardscapes will blend well with the softscape and also fully compliment the structures they are adjacent to. Avoiding straight lines is one way that landscape designers develop a more natural look and feel to man made hardscapes. Curves and irregular patterns for the laying of patio stones is one way this is achieved. Uneven textures for retaining walls are another way that hardscapes are designed to blend into the surroundings of nature.
Hardscapes need to be planned out carefully as they are not easily removed or changed once they have been put in place. Choosing material types that fit well with the styling of the home is also important in the planning process. Experienced landscape designers can provide guidance to homeowners on hardscape design and installation. They understand how to combine colors and textures to achieve different types of looks that will fit best with both the natural surroundings and the style of the home.