Paved driveway leading to house

Now that spring is in full swing, it’s the perfect time to jazz up the outside of your home. Along with landscaping, hardscaping can be that “something extra” your home needs to stand out in the neighborhood.

Hardscaping refers to any inorganic item used in landscaping, including, but is not limited to, pavers, retaining walls and pergolas.

According to DGM Landscaping and Lawn Care in Augusta, Georgia, “A space can be hardscaped without being softscaped (adding plants or flowers), but having your land solely softscaped leaves your garden vulnerable to damages caused by rainwater runoff that carr[ies] toxins.”

Pavers

Pavers are a long-term, highly durable choice to help transform your yard. Many options are easy to place because they interlock. There are a few types of pavers to choose from, including brick, concrete, porcelain and natural stone, which come in all shapes and sizes. They are also meant to be long-lasting. With plenty of options available, the perfect style for your home may be easy to find.

According to Landscape Management’s Marisa Palmieri, most homeowners looking into pavers choose more of a modern feel.

“They want clean, smooth textures and large format designs,” Palmieri says. “They’re eschewing the old world or cobblestone feel because they’re becoming savvier about design choices that may date their homes.”

She mentions many different options, including gray tones, plank-style pavers, large format shapes and modular design. All these options are larger than the traditional cobblestone brick pavers of the past and allow new designs that better reflect the overall look of the home.

“Again, things are going more toward the clean, streamlined look,” Palmieri says. “These are driven by (a trend toward) big, clean lines and also wood plank options. We’re seeing these in grays, whites and blacks.”

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are no longer just used for functionality; instead, they are becoming increasingly more diverse and expressive.

In an interview with Jennifer King of Turf Magazine, Joseph Raboine, director of Belgard design studio, discusses the influx of retaining walls. He says, “we are starting to see much more integration of features into retaining walls, especially adjacent to outdoor living areas.”

Succulents or other garden plants in retaining walls can give your home a tropical look among the hardscape.

“A very popular trend is being water wise and easy to maintain by incorporating plants and especially succulents for their drought tolerance and minimal care required,” says Ingeborg Carr, director of Marketing of Altman Plants. “The appeal of succulents is also their architectural shapes.”

Multiuse spaces are also being incorporated into backyard retaining walls.

“We are seeing features such as kitchens and fireplaces being used in conjunction with walls to help retain hillsides,” King says. “I think the trend is starting to shift away from the idea that a retaining wall is just a functional requirement and instead can be a beautiful addition to their property.”

Pergolas

While the traditional gazebo is covered, the pergola is a more open option for the home because the structure allows selective light through. Traditionally found in desert climates, this design has started making its way to other regions as well. It can help give a backyard that finishing touch it may lack.

“The open canopy of a pergola’s overhead structure is a strong and effective transitional link between a house’s solid roof and the pergola’s open structure,” Kier Holmes of Gardenista says. “Personally, I love the dappled light created by a pergola, the shadows and interesting patterns that are cast as sunlight or moonlight finds its way through the structure.”

A pergola can help mesh the home into the backyard.

“[Pergolas] create a living room feel for your outdoor dining table and chair set,” Holmes says. “Piggybacking on that idea, your outdoor kitchen or barbecue area could use a sense of homeyness.”

Whether the structure is made of wood, metal or both, the options for color and style are almost endless.

“Keep in mind that a combination can be used,” Holmes says. “Consider a mix-and-match arrangement, but whatever materials you choose, remember to base your choices on solid design principals.”

Combined with landscaping, hardscaping can help transform a yard into a sanctuary. Pergolas, pavers and retaining walls are just three ways that you can use hardscaping. Following these trends can create a brand new, fresh atmosphere for your backyard guests, and your front yard neighbors, as well as turn your house into one cohesive unit from inside to out.

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