Topic: Hardscaping

Date Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

From Our Gardens: Hardscapes make your outdoor area more accessible and inviting

From Our Gardens: Hardscapes make your outdoor area more accessible and inviting


Fall is the perfect time to start thinking about creating an outdoor living space.

Adding a hardscape area to a garden will make it more inviting and will “lure you to lounge” outside during all of North Carolina’s beautiful seasons.

But what exactly is a hardscape? Hardscape is a term used to describe an area in a garden or other outdoor living space built from non-permeable materials. It is used to enhance the beauty and functionality of a natural space. A hardscape can be as simple and basic as a gravel path through a garden. It can also be an intricate patio made of stone that creates terraces that step down a hillside, and contains creature comforts like an outdoor kitchen, a hot tub, or a shady pergola with a dining table for outdoor dining.

1: Incorporate a path that winds through your garden to encourage you to walk through your plantings.

Gravel is inexpensive and does not break down like mulch or pine straw, but it is heavy. Use pre-bagged gravel available at home improvement stores for small projects and get gravel delivered directly to your house from a landscape supply company for larger ones.

A path is always more inviting if it leads somewhere, so consider creating a seating area in a small clearing with a bench, or add a birdbath or some garden statuary. A portly Buddha and dancing frogs are always welcoming.

2: Use decorative concrete block to edge pathways or flower beds.

Concrete blocks come in many sizes, shapes and colors. These are not your father’s old, gray, cement blocks. They can easily be stacked to form retaining walls or planters, or they can be used single-file to create a simple border or walkway.

Pay a visit to your local home improvement store to see the options.

3: Add a water feature like a store-bought outdoor fountain or create your own using natural rock, a small pond liner and a recirculating pump.

You will be amazed how serene and relaxing your environment becomes when you spend some time outdoors next to your water feature.

1: Patios. Let’s face it, we humans love our creature comforts, and a patio is a great way to bring the best of indoors into your garden space. Patios can be made from brick pavers, natural stone, poured concrete; there are many hardscape materials to choose from that require little or no maintenance.

Patios can be quite elaborate, too. They can contain luxurious outdoor kitchens that rival even the fanciest indoor variety. Stainless steel sinks, refrigerators, grills, adult beverage centers, lighting, televisions — even entire home sports bars — these all have their place outdoors if it gets you to spend quality time outside.

2: Create terraces using multiple retaining walls to reduce slope in yards that have challenging terrain.

Retaining walls can be placed downhill from the back of the home to create wide, flat expanses of grass in yards that would otherwise be steep and unusable.

Retaining walls can be terraced closer together to create planters for flowers and other plants, and steps can also be designed into the plans to provide easy access to the other levels of the backyard.

3: And last but certainly not least, when winter comes calling, we don’t have to go back inside without a fight. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit is a great way to stay warm and stretch our outdoor time in North Carolina.

Anyone that has ever been to camp can tell you that there is something special about a fire, a group of friends, some marshmallows, a Hershey’s chocolate bar and a stack of graham crackers. Fireplaces and fire pits can be constructed of many different materials and can be designed to burn wood, or to be fitted with gas logs.

Either way, it will definitely make wintertime more enjoyable.

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