Specialty Spotlight: Hardscaping

by Suzanne Carroll
hardscaping in back yard

Most of us spend more time outdoors during the summer doing activities like gardening, playing sports, grilling meals and socializing with friends. If you’re trying to create the perfect yard for enjoying the warm weather, it’s important to focus on both landscaping and hardscaping. A pathway, patio, retaining wall or any built-in feature in your yard is part of its hardscaping. Below, we’ll explain how hardscaping features can make your yard more beautiful, better for entertaining and even safer.

What is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping refers to the nonliving features of your yard. It includes elements that are movable (gravel, decorative statues) as well as elements that are immovable (patios, walkways, pergolas). Unlike the flowers, bushes and grass in your garden, these things tend to be hard, hence the term “hardscaping.” A well-designed garden will fully integrate landscaping and hardscaping features to create an environment that’s both functional and pleasant.


Hardscaping Enhances the Beauty of Your Garden

rocks in garden

Use hardscaping to express your design sensibility in your garden. Photo: Sampson’s Landscaping, Inc. ©2021

Landscaping and hardscaping often go hand in hand. If it’s time to start reimagining your garden, you’ll certainly need to consider the kinds of flowers, plants and trees that will grow. However, hardscaping will play an important role in organizing your yard and harmonizing its components. Building pathways and gravel beds will give better definition to your garden. Pergolas and retaining walls provide an excellent setting for hanging plants or vines. Hardscaping is also where you can express your personal design aesthetic, such as adding stamped concrete or selecting a particular pattern or color for paving stones. When elements of hardscaping and landscaping come together seamlessly, you can nurture a garden that will be beautiful for years to come.


Hardscaping Helps With Summer Entertaining

pavers in garden

Hardscaping elements can create the perfect yard for entertaining. Photo: Mr. Pavers Contractor Services, Inc. ©2021

The Bay Area’s long, mild summer evenings are ideal for outdoor entertaining. The right hardscaping choices can help you create the perfect setting for get-togethers both large and small. You can create a fairly flat area to gather outdoors by laying crushed gravel or building/repairing your deck or patio. If grilling is your passion, you might consider installing an outdoor kitchen, which will allow you to keep all your utensils and ingredients close at hand as you entertain guests. Built-in benches could provide seating for meals or relaxing. Alternatively, your yard might be best improved by a backyard fire pit, where friends and family could enjoy a starry night. No matter the size of your yard, investing in hardscaping can help you create a cozy, comfortable atmosphere that you can enjoy with others.


Hardscaping Makes Your Property Safer

retaining wall

A retaining wall can reduce your property’s exposure to soil erosion and wildfire. Photo: Dana Lund Landscaping, LLC ©2021

When planning a hardscaping project, you may first focus on how to make your yard more beautiful or better for entertaining, but another benefit of hardscaping is that it can make your property safer when facing the elements. Hardscaping features can help protect your home against wildfire and reduce the impact of soil erosion on your property.

Retaining walls are not only beautiful, they’re highly functional as well. Made of stone, brick or concrete, retaining walls play a key role in slowing soil erosion on sloped properties. During major rain events, they help anchor soil in place and can reduce the chances of a landslide. Retaining walls can also limit the spread of wildfire. Flame-resistant stones or concrete push back against the airflow of the flames, making it harder for them to spread. Aside from building retaining walls, using gravel for beddings (instead of mulch or plants) can help slow water runoff during wet weather and make the property more fire-resistant during dry spells. If drainage is an issue on your land, using permeable pavers for a walkway can help manage water absorption.


While some simple hardscaping projects can be done on your own, others will require a qualified professional. Find a local, top rated company that can help with your hardscaping project.


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