Hardscapes are composed of the non-living elements of your landscape design. These may include walkways, patios, walls, arbors, fences, lighting, and more. When a hardscape is developed to express a natural design aesthetic, it’s fun because the ‘hard’ pieces (gravel, rocks, and boulders) often play off of nature’s ‘softest’ elements: spongy ground covers, textured bark, and water.
Rocks and Boulders
Does the thought of hauling huge rocks into your yard seem a little strange? It’s not unusual for clients to give us a raised eyebrow or two when we assess their design goals and suggest bringing in boulders and rocks.
Truth be told, natural hardscape designs almost always include accent rockery. Think about the views you encounter when out on a hike. Elements are rarely standing alone: it’s a combination of rocks, grasses, trees and water that work together to create nature’s beauty.
In the installation below, a backyard water feature moved from ordinary to enchanting when we mirrored the composition of Mother Nature.
Fir trees cleared during the home’s construction were repurposed to create this stream, fed by a custom pond above. The strategic placement of large boulders and accent rocks brings power and definition to the piece, maximizing its beauty in the landscape.
Slate and Flagstone
Hardscapes have a few workhorse elements, and slate and flagstone are longtime favorites. These materials are available in myriad colors, shapes, textures, and sizes. While a formal look calls for a tight “jigsaw” style perfect fit of pieces, a charming transformation occurs when we stretch out to 2-4 inches of space between each.
Taking cues from English gardens, these pathways and patio have been spaced widely to allow hardy groundcover to grow in around each piece of stone. Irish moss, Corsican mint, and Blue Star creeper all shine when put to use in this way.
If you’re considering a naturalized area for seating or dining, keep in mind that flagstone is more textured and makes for a bumpier surface for your tables and chairs. Larger pieces with wider bases will allow you to sit more comfortably.
Paver-style stones can offer natural texture in conveniently standardized sizing, typically 18×18 or 24×24 inches. Considerations for slope, drainage, and planned use in your landscape will all play a part in determining which material is best for your project.
Get Your Look
After nearly three decades of residential and commercial installations, we’re still energized by the process of finding the “just right” balance of hardscaping and plantings for our clients. Are you ready to trade a monotone view for natural beauty around your home or business?
Further Reading on Hardscapes: