When we think of residential landscaping, we mostly refer to planting flowers and shrubs, sodding a lawn or planting trees to add shade. While these elements will enhance the aesthetic quality of your yard, adding hardscape elements has the potential to transform an unkempt backyard into a backyard oasis for family gatherings and entertainment.
Hardscape refers to any non-garden design elements around the exterior of your home -- patios, paved walkways, water fountains, rocks, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces or fire pits are good examples . These elements can provide fluidity from your home’s interior to your yard and the surrounding environment. While the vegetation around your property may change with the seasons, hardscape accents provide a permanent design to your landscape.
Patios have come a long way and provide the basis for the ultimate outdoor living space. There is no place more relaxing and fun than the patio -- imagine lounging there on a sunny day with a favorite book in hand, or having heartfelt conversations with friends and family under the stars. Installing a patio will not only provide a gathering space, but also increase the market value of a house. Since patios often serve as the focal point of outdoor living, be sure to consider any future functions or additions you may need during the design process. For example, if you want to add an outdoor kitchen on or adjacent to the patio, you should account for future electrical and plumbing requirements before laying the patio foundation.
Fire pits are more than just beautiful features for outdoor spaces, they are vehicles for bringing people together. Few things are more fundamental, or more enjoyable, than sitting around an open ﬁre with family and friends. Whether you're cooking hot dogs in the summer, roasting marshmallows in the fall or simply enjoying the subtle warmth of the fire, a fire pit makes being outside any time of the year a truly enjoyable experience. Fire pits are relatively inexpensive, take little time to install and can be built with a wide variety of materials: bricks, stacked stone, field stone, and concrete. Wood burning fire pits are popular and can be placed anywhere in the backyard. However, there are also modern-looking fire pits made of concrete or Corten steel that come in different shapes and sizes from which to choose.
If you’re ready to have everything at your fingertips to prepare your next meal outside, then consider adding an outdoor kitchen. Today’s kitchens include sinks, counter tops, refrigeration, ice makers, wine coolers, pizza ovens, BBQs, grills and much more. No more cooking alone inside while everyone is outside enjoying each other’s company on a bright summer day. Your outdoor kitchen can incorporate counter-or table-height seating to allow you to visit with guests while cooking. Once you have your outdoor kitchen up and running, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it. If you ever decide to sell your home and move to a new location, your outdoor cooking space will be a sought-after selling feature.
A pergola is an outdoor structure (consisting of columns that support a roofing grid of beams and rafters) that is often used as a framework for vines or support for climbing plants. Pergolas are usually used around a patio, providing an awning-like space to sit, relax or to enjoy a small gathering. The best part about a pergola is that it could be customized into anything -- it could be used to string lights for night time or place speakers for outdoor music. Pressure-treated wood and cedar wood are common construction materials for Pergolas.
So why not consider some of these ideas to see how they can add value to your outdoor living. If done thoughtfully, hardscape features can truly improve your home's aesthetics, add usable space, and enhance your lifestyle!