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Material World – Hardscaping Materials 101

Just like with interiors, exterior design is all about balance. A play of different textures, complementary color palettes, and varying heights, sizes and styles gives a space life and helps define its parts into a single whole. When you’re thinking about your outdoor spaces–whether it’s a backyard, front pathway, garden borders, or a side patio–adding hardscaping is an essential step to create a well-designed environment you’ll love to hang out in.

Hardscaping vs Landscaping

The landscape is the soft, living materials in your outdoor area. Grass, flowers, trees, shrubs–anything that’s adding to or changing the natural components of the space. Hardscaping is the man-made, non-living hard components of any outdoor area.



Why Use Hardscaping

Define

Hardscaping is a simple, effective method for delineating areas in your lawn. Maybe you want to add a fountain in the center of your front yard or would like to create a walkway from one sitting area to another–hardscaping can get you there. 

Irrigate

Adding stones, wood, brick, and other materials to your outdoor spaces can help soak up water, stop erosion, keep pathways clear of mud, and can even help reduce allergens in your lawn. 

Protect

Maybe there’s no way to stop the dog from trampling through the tulips, but hardscaping can help keep visitors on the right path (so to speak), thus keeping your landscaped areas lush and alive.


Types of Hardscaping

Brick

Pros: Classic look, durable

Cons: Pricey and hard to find exact replacements when necessary


Wood

Pros: Blends in well, easy on the surrounding landscape, and readily available anywhere

Cons: Soft and prone to mold, rot, and termites, so is one of the more high maintenance and shorter lasting options available


Concrete

Pros: Hard-wearing, easy to find, easy to replace

Cons: Can look a bit cold, almost always requires professional installation


Tile

Pros: Lots of aesthetic options, easy to find, customizable, lots of different sizes

Cons: Can get slippery when wet, ceramic tiles can crack easier than other materials


Pavers

Pros: Can be either stone, concrete, or tile that can be dyed or cut to your specifications, meaning the options are endless. Durable, long-lasting, low-maintenance

Cons: Nothing worth noting!


Stone

Pros: Gorgeous, natural look, easy to find, lots of options

Cons: Irregular, can’t count on uniformity of design


Smalls: Anything like pebbles, gravel, etc.

Pros: Easy to install, can be mixed with other hardscaping or softscaping for a natural look 

Cons: Doesn’t feel good to walk on


Composite Decking: A synthetic material (so not wood, metal, stone) that’s made to last. 

Pros: It won’t warp or split, is mold and bug-resistant, and doesn’t require much maintenance

Cons: Can be expensive, can look synthetic/doesn’t have an effortless natural look

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