courtesy of David J. Frank
to a dazzling garden or a serene patio than a lush lawn and fragrant
flowers. Hardscape elements, from stone retaining walls to brick fire
pits, are making outdoor spaces more enjoyable and user friendly.
"yin to landscaping’s yang," hardscaping can incorporate
many design elements to enhance the appearance of a property,
providing continuity from a home’s interior to the exterior.
is generally thought of as something non-plant related, like steps,
columns, decks, pergolas or even fountains and fire pits," says
landscape architect Jeff Hirschberger of David J. Frank Landscape in
Germantown. "And, there’s an endless array of materials that we
can use to construct these items — stone, wood and composites, to
name a few," he says.
In recent years,
the art of hardscaping has taken on new life as homeowners want to
spend more time outdoors, but want to bring the comforts of the
indoors along with them. A lot goes into designing hardscape, says
Kevin Sennes of Hill & Valley Landscaping in Franklin.
"Color, texture and natural stone vs. manufactured products are
just some of the considerations. We will incorporate things like stone
inlays in many of our designs in order to tie all the elements of the
project together. Lighting is another key element that allows you to
enjoy the outdoors in the evening," he explains.
help to extend the amount of time that homeowners in colder climates
can enjoy the outdoors, as evidenced by the growing popularity of
outdoor entertainment areas. "Grilling stations, fireplaces and
fire pits have been a popular trend for the past 12 to 15 years. They
allow people to spend time in their outdoor areas after dark and when
the temperatures are cooler, times they weren’t typically
outside," Hirschberger says.
"Outdoor living areas really are an extension of the home if they’re
property designed. We’re regularly installing paver patios, seating
walls and columns with lighting for our clients. With fire pits and
fireplaces, you have the option of natural gas or wood burning. The
options are becoming limitless, which makes it very exciting to
design," he says.
Now, instead of
a simple grilling station, you might see a full ensemble of
sophisticated cooking equipment that includes not just an assortment
of kitchen appliances, but also speakers, television and adjustable
lighting, says Hirschberger. "All of the comforts of indoors are
moving outside, and that includes pots brimming with colorful annuals
or tropicals as well as candles, fans, heaters and cooling
Hardscape can be
used to complement the design of a home, tying together the style of
the house and the backyard. "Matching the brick or stone on a
house or including some of the home’s masonry and architectural
details pull a project together. We want the overall look and feel to
be as if it were part of the original master plan, not an
add-on," Hirschberger says.
The homeowner is
the director of the project, Sennes says. "We listen to what
people want and then try to put those ideas into a design that is
functional and realistic," he says. But much more goes into a
project than what is on the surface. Landscape designers must consider
drainage, soil conditions and local codes and ordinances when they
install outdoor spaces.
Concern for the
environment has homeowners asking for sustainable or natural products,
Hirschberger says. "Stone, bricks, pavers and composites last
much longer than cedar or redwood decks, decreasing the amount of
maintenance and eliminating the need to replace it after just a decade
or two. Some of the composites actually use recycled materials. And,
new innovations in integrated LED lighting have not only produced an
excellent quality of light, but also significantly reduce energy
consumption and maintenance," he says.
plants, the right hardscape materials can give a home unique style
through the use of color, texture and pattern. They can help to create
an outdoor space that can be used for many years. m