Exterior Worlds
Patios and Outdoors
Request a consultation

Patios and Outdoors

Hardscapes—the non-plant material of your landscape design—play a critical part of any garden landscape project. When combined with green, growing plants, they create an outdoor living environment that invites you, your family and friends to come in, to sit and enjoy, to meander and explore.

Types of Hardscapes

  • Pool decking. This hardscape runs from the swimming pool to the house, connecting these two major areas. Popular choices are flagstone, brick or wood. Special attention needs to be paid to using non-slippery surfaces since it is part of a wet area.
  • Outdoor Fireplace. Both functional and aesthetic, fireplaces provide warmth in the fall and winter, as well as add ambiance to the garden. The look of this particular hardscape can range from a grand to simple.
  • Wooden decks and arbors. Although most people attach them to the house, decks can also be freestanding. Other popular hardscape structures made of wood include arbors, pergolas, loggias and gazebos that create a decorative entrance or frame a focal point. They are attractive ways to make a strong statement or point to a sense of something happening on the other side of a fence.
  • Gardens pathways. Paths direct the eye and connect different spaces. They can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the material used.
  • Retaining walls. A retaining wall is usually a short wall used to hold the soil in place. A good landscape designer will construct these hardscapes in such a way that they blend in or create visual interest.
  • Seat walls. These low walls bring definition to a space—and also double as seating when entertaining large groups.
  • Driveways and motor courts. Typically vast expanses of concrete, driveways and motor courts can be constructed in ways that complement the house and landscape design.



For Your Consideration

There are many different types of hardscape materials. They include:

  • Concrete. A popular choice, concrete is durable, inexpensive and can be poured into a site-specific shape. It can be colored, stained or textured to create long-lasting beauty.
  • Pavers. A man-made brick that recalls old world charm, pavers can be installed to create intricate patterns, including cobblestone. Laid on sand or a concrete base, usually without mortared joints, they are environmentally friendly.
  • Wood decking. When choosing wood as your hardscape material, the byword is dutiful and beautiful. Pressure-treated pine is the mainstay of decks, but cedar and a South American wood called ipe (pronounced ee-pay) are also popular. Cedar, which has a natural resistance to decay, is an exceptional choice for arbors because of its dimensional stability. It lies flat, stays straight, retains fasteners and provides a firm base for many types of stains and paints. Wood decking is great for tree preservation because of its very small footprint when combined with proper post-construction techniques.
  • Stone. Types of stone used in hardscape construction include cut limestone, sandstone, quartzite and slate. These materials are available in cut pieces, like square, rectangles or irregular pieces. Stone is normally laid on a reinforced concrete slab (usually 4” thick), cemented, and then grouted between the joints.
  • Cast stone. A masonry product that provides ornamental or functional features to buildings and other structures, cast stone gives the appearance of natural stones such as limestone, granite, slate, travertine or marble. They are made from fine and coarse aggregates, Portland cement, mineral oxide color pigments, chemical admixtures and water. Shapes include squares for paving, columns, planters, door surrounds and are available in virtually any color.

Drain Away

An important component of any hardscape project, a landscape drainage system should be taken seriously—especially with Houston’s infamous torrential downpours. It makes the difference between having usable hard surfaces or dealing with seasonal small lakes and swamps. A skillful landscape designer can design patio and driveway drains in a way so that they invisible or, at the very least, discrete.

Lights! Action!

Landscape lighting and water—such as an outdoor water fountain or luxury swimming pool—can bring your hardscape elements to life. If used, lighting and water will, of course, require electrical and plumbing work. However, both elements really ratchet up the impact. Lighting makes your landscape a 24-hour-a-day delight and water provides movement, creating both visual and auditory pleasures. They are the killer apps of the landscape design world.

Call the experts at Exterior Worlds about putting hardscapes into your landscape design—or improving existing ones: 713-827-2255.

For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston's fine neighborhoods.

Garden Gazebo

A garden gazebo is the ultimate garden structure within your landscape architecture. It fits nicely into your home landscape design, whether your property is vast and varied or a small garden design. As a focal point, a garden gazebo gives viewers a place to visually rest—the mind can go there and take a breather, even on the busiest of days. Garden Gazebo: Shapes The eight-sided gazebo was popularized by

Outdoor Rooms

An outdoor room uses the basic design principle of harmony. It is where your interior space and the exterior can harmonize most beautifully. One is the extension of the other, seamless, flowing, blending. An outdoor room is a wonderful way to make Houston’s fickle and unpredictable weather work for you. You can use it to bask in our mild winters. And you can construct it so that you can

Patio Outdoor Room

Exterior Worlds can easily build you a patio outdoor room. Think about the joys of cooking, eating, talking, and relaxing all--shared in the comfort and ambience of a carefully planned outdoor living environment. That is exactly what a patio outdoor room creates for you, and it offers you far more opportunities for special moments than any indoor room ever could. The reason for this is simple: a patio outdoor room

Garden Outdoor Room

Nothing increases living space and enhances the environment around your home than a garden outdoor room. It is a unique environment created to reduce stress with a lasting beauty that can be enjoyed from any vantage point, inside or outside the home. Garden outdoor rooms are highly personalized—being built with materials and softscape elements that directly correlate to the desires and lifestyle of the homeowner. A garden outdoor room

A Garden Pergola Adds A Vertical Impact to Your Yard

By definition, a garden pergola is a structure that is built out of pillars, cross beams, and lattice walls. The lattice walls support climbing vines that grow over the top of the structure. Much of the area beneath a garden pergola is therefore shaded, but the light is never completely blocked. Visibility remains clear for humans, and sufficient sunlight reaches the ground for most species of garden plants to thrive

Outdoor Gazebo

An outdoor gazebo provides the homeowner with a superb view the home, garden, and the surrounding Houston landscape. Such a structure provides a covering from the sun on hot days and shelter from rain on cloudy days. Mosquitoes can be kept at bay by building a simple screen around the sides. Outdoor gazebos have been around for at least 5,000 years, going back all the way to Ancient Egypt. There, they

Things You can do under an Outdoor Pergola

You can build an outdoor pergola over one end of a dinner patio. The open end of the patio can have a large dining table shielded by sun umbrellas. The smaller dining table goes under the pergola, and it is shielded from the sun by the plant material growing on the lattice of the roof. This smaller dining table looks more formal than its open-air companion, and it creates a

Climbing Vines That Make Your Pergola Design Come Alive

A pergola is an ideal structure for Houston landscaping clients to invest in. As a structure that only partly open to the sun, it creates an enormous amount of shade without blocking the flow of air. While sitting in a pergola, it is possible enough light to read a book without too much light reflecting off the pages as glare. The near perfect lighting and temperature conditions of pergola design

There are Many Things you can do with a Pool House

A pool house is a remarkable structure whose very design speaks to the lifestyle particulars that most characterize you as an individual. The structure is much more than a decorative building next to your pool. Fully functional capabilities are built into each of these structures ranging from accommodating basic activities to providing an individualized forum for luxury pursuits. A basic pool house design contains restrooms and changing rooms for people

Arbors Increase Shade and add Human Scaling to Houston Homes

Some homes are very large. They almost dwarf the rest of the landscape, making both the dwelling itself and the surrounding yard look overwhelming to guests. Part of Houston landscaping design is to break a large estate into smaller zones of interest that appear more intimately inviting. People feel more comfortable in areas that have been deliberately proportioned for human activities. A custom arbor is such a structure that can