The term “hardscape” refers any non-organic landscape element that is deliberately planned and constructed. It gets its name from the nature of the materials used to build the many forms that constitute this family of landscaping elements. Most construction materials used in these projects are very hard, and create lasting, durable, and resilient fixed that serve special purposes and add beauty and aesthetic impact to the yard.

Hardscape structures are almost always the first forms built when the time comes to actually implement a residential landscaping design project. This is due to the powerful visual impact they carry which lends itself so well to the establishment of order and system throughout the property. Though non-organic themselves, these structures are crucial to the proper showcasing of vibrant colors of garden design and the lush shades of green of a well-manicured lawn.

The types of hardscape structures that can be added to a yard are truly many and varied. Elements such as paved sidewalks, stepping stone pathways, brick walkways, atriums, courtyards, and custom patios are just a few examples. Many people also like to have more elaborate and sophisticated structures built, such as outdoor fireplaces, custom fountains, sports courts, stairways and steps, and garden pergolas.

There are also structures such as retaining walls and masonry planters that serve a vital practical purpose as well as adding vertical impact to the flat Houston landscape.

Any material that provides a firm, durable surface can be used to create a hardscape. Preferably, this material should be decorative as well as functional. Stone is still the most popular material after thousands of years. It looks natural and can be used to compliment any landscape design theme. Another popular material is concrete. It can be colored and stained to mimic stone, or it can be made to stand out as a unique, decorative statement all its own. Wood and brick are two other materials that have been around for centuries and show no sign of going away in the years to come.

In terms of practicality and aesthetics, the benefits that hardscapes add to landscaping are almost too numerous to count. Some of the more notable of these advantages are discussed as follows:

  • Pathways and walkways create transition by providing clear, recognizable transit areas through which traffic moves from one point of interest to another.
  • Paths can also create zones of interest and make a yard look bigger by altering the perspective and depth of the scene.
  • Architectural walls can create borders around vegetation and activity zones, magnifying the impact of the vegetation in the process.
  • Retaining walls can be used to change the grade of the Houston landscape.
  • Courtyard walls create enclosed spaces for privacy and conversation.
  • Garden pergolas, with their lattice walls, can screen the view with such elements as lattice walls or raftered ceilings partly open to the stars
  • Custom patios establish entertainment and seating areas, such as swimming pool patios, luxury spas, and outdoor fireplaces
  • Stairways and steps leading to and from outdoor buildings create drama and a sense of grand entrance.
  • Arbors create shade and comfort in the hot, Houston summer sun.
  • Masonry constructs add vertical impact that lifts the property above the aesthetic norm.
  • Front yard walkways and custom driveways add curb appeal to the edifice of the home.

In all of these examples, we can see how equally important the aesthetic element of hardscape is to its functional element. Ideally, there should always be a purposed served by a structure in a way that also pleases the eye. Some forms, however, are for all intents and purpose pure decoration and nothing more.

An excellent example of such would be outdoor water features such as custom fountains. Very small architectural walls around patios and morning gardens also do little to create enclosure or true privacy per se, but lend themselves very well to the sense of special place that is set apart visually and distinctively from the rest of the yard.

Retaining Wall Contactors

If erosion is a problem in your garden, or around you hardscapes, consider hiring Exterior Worlds to work as a retaining wall contractor in your yard. Building these structures in problem areas that will maintain the grade of the yard will perverse topsoil, plant vegetation, and lasting curb appeal. We offer this very specialized form of landscape architecture to our Houston landscaping clients in order to ensure that these walls

Patio Retaining Wall

Patio retaining walls prevent the erosion of planting areas around patios. They modify the grade of the land in a way that adds stability to the entire surrounding area. This results in a better utilization of space by managing the grade of the land in a controlled manner that contributes dimension, vertical impact, and accent to adjoining landscape elements. Many Houston landscaping clients are surprised to learn just how important

Retaining Wall Ideas

Retaining wall ideas are based on many landscaping principles. Some of these principles focus exclusively on creating a structure that serves a practical purpose on the landscape. Others focus on the creation of a better aesthetic, with the goal being either a more enjoyable outdoor environment, or the increased resale value of the home resultant from better curb appeal. Retaining wall ideas are frequently integrated into garden design. Stone walls

What are Retaining Wall Systems?

A retaining wall system is a network of retention walls that hold back the earth in key places and control the drainage of storm water. This prevents topsoil from being washed away by the rain, protecting plant life and supported structures in the process. Walls also have a dramatic effect of elevating the landscape by adding vertical impact to key areas of interest and contributing architectural curb appeal throughout the

Ideas for Rock Wall Landscaping

On an elemental level, rock and stone is the same thing. In Houston landscaping, though, the term “rock” refers to raw, unfinished stone that comes directly from the quarry. Rocks like this are used to create structures that contribute a sense of authentic nature to a property. Examples include garden designs, natural swimming pool designs, and rock wall landscaping. Walls that are made from natural stone materials can do many

Concrete Permeable Paver Hardscape Designs

Concrete permeable pavers protect lawn grasses, ground covers, garden plants, and trees from flooding. They filter water through the pavers into ground below. They also protect plants in the yard from toxic chemicals that can be carried or washed out by rainwater. In the grand scheme of things, they protect the streets of Houston from flooding, and the streams and rivers of the Gulf Coast from pollutants that would otherwise

Permeable Pavers for Driveways

Exterior Worlds uses two types of permeable pavers for driveways. The first is actually a solid paver that is laid in an interlocking pattern with other pavers. The pavers are laid down in a special way, using special bonding materials that create a web of permeability that allows water to drain all the way through. The second type of paver we use is made from pervious concrete. This type of

Permeable Paver Driveways

The best permeable paver driveway designs for Houston landscaping projects are those that either use interlocking pavers or porous pavers. Both types of pavers are normally rendered decorative so that they can better support the architecture of the home. Adding a decorative touch to the hardscape also masks its utilitarian function with an aesthetic that sets the tone for other surface areas like patios, walkways, stepping stones, and courtyards. Permeable

Permeable Pavers Design for Ecological Landscaping

With up to 80 percent of many Houston landscaping plans consisting of hardscapes, the ecologically conscious homeowner may want to invest in hardscapes that are constructed using various types of permeable paver designs. With concrete being one of the most malleable substances when it comes to adding decorative appeal, it is possible to develop an entire Houston landscaping plan around porous surfaces that filter toxins out of storm water, and which

Permeable Driveway Pavers

Less expensive permeable driveway pavers can be solid pavers that are spaced in such a way as to allow water to drain between them. These are made from stone, concrete, brick, or decorative concrete. Others are made from concrete that is actually porous. These pavers allow water to drain through their entire surface. Both offer environmentally friendly benefits, with porous pavers of course being the more effective of the two.