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How Hardscaping Can Soften Your Landscape

January 7, 2015 by

Hardscaping is one of most misunderstood aspects of landscape design.

The word itself may have something to do with it – “hardscaping” sounds, well, hard, or at least solid. But thoughtful hardscaping can soften a rectangular landscape with curves and whimsy. It can create motion, or even a sense of motion, with water features, curved paths or the careful placement of a series of related items.

Hardscaping covers items in the garden that are not living plants, shrubs or trees. Paving and paths of any kind; walls or partial walls of stone, brick or wood (alone or in combination); structures such as arbors, pergolas, gazebos and lattices; decks, benches and a table with two chairs; pots, planters, stones and sculpture – all are hardscape elements.

Hardscaping goals as varied as landscapes

The narrow space between the fence and wall feels larger with a defined pathway.

The narrow space between the fence and wall feels larger with a defined pathway.

Goals for hardscaping are as varied as the potential elements themselves. The right pieces make a small space feel more expansive or an expansive yard more intimate. Creating focal points, privacy, distinct garden spaces and outdoor living areas are increasing popular goals for our Nashville area clients.

When Perfect World Landscapes has a blank canvas, we work with our homeowners to determine their goals and how hardscaping helps meet them. That might mean a shaded nook under a tree, rimmed by perennials, with an inviting small table and two chairs for morning coffee and tea. It might mean giving a softer form to a large, deep backyard with curved plant beds and curving paths and a midway focal point – a sculpture, a fountain, a raised bed with unusual plant combinations – that invites more wandering.

Arbors can be simple or elaborate, welcoming visitors to the garden or separating two different garden spaces. Even a single decorative ceramic pot will elevate a full perennial bed to different, and more interactive, work of nature’s art.

And don’t underestimate the impact of a few well-placed rocks, especially among low-growing plants such as sedums and other succulents or semi-succulents.

Experiment with easy hardscaping features

Try some small experiments on your own. Grab an old section of worn picket fence and install it near a swath of black-eyed susans and coneflowers. In Nashville, taller sedums such as Autumn Joy grow like crazy; give them a little pop by inserting a birdbath or even just the base of one. Find an urn-shaped pot and balance it against tall perennials, nestled with shorter species set at the edge of a planting bed.

Landscaping design with urn water feature surrounded with Mexican river pebbles and river oats

Landscaping design with urn water feature surrounded with Mexican river pebbles and river oats

Test and let things sit awhile. You’ll get a sense of what style you like and whether you favor a repurposed cottage-style approach or something more formal, with similar elements that repeat through the landscape.

Not all hardscaping is hard. But some of it is hard work. Designing and building retaining walls, decks, outdoors living areas and pergolas is one of our strengths at Perfect World Landscapes, along with creating the perfect pathways to pull your landscape together.

But if you play a little bit yourself, you’ll know not only what you like to look at but also what you like to use. A quiet, shaded seating area where no one sits may be missing something.  A winding path with no focal points makes it far too easy to rush by, without stopping to smell, or at least appreciate, the flowers.

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Perfect World Landscapes, LLC
2724 Sharondale Court, Nashville, TN 37215

Licensed, Bonded and Insured. TN Charter #5142

Serving Nashville, Belle Meade, Green Hills and surrounding areas.