When homeowners think about a backyard remodel, they tend to think of the finished product. For instance, they may picture perfectly placed masonry plant bends lined up against a modern patio that encourages hours of chitchat and relaxing evenings. Understandably, few put thought into what goes into the landscape design and installation process or the distinction that arises between what some people call a landscape design professional versus a hardscape design professional. Before you embark on your design/build project for your Rochester Hills, MI, home, you will want to know the difference.
The Hardscape Features: From the Patio to Stone Walls
When a landscape contractor refers to the hardscape, that’s the part of your exterior property where you walk, park your car, and hang out. These elements include paver patios, walkways, retaining walls, driveways, pergolas, and so on. Such features serve both a functional and an aesthetic purpose. When designing a hardscape—for example, a patio with an outdoor kitchen—consideration should be taken to incorporate the hardscape into the rest of the property in a way that works for the homeowner’s needs and that looks good. How will putting a patio in your backyard influence traffic flow as your family plays outside? Could the addition of a retaining wall improve your gardening opportunities? How will putting in a privacy wall change the look of the property? Could the addition of a pergola influence your decision to plant more or fewer shade trees? How could a multiple straight lines affect the look and feel of your existing landscape?
The most important elements of a hardscape—the elements that give you the most enjoyment and value—tend to be patios, outdoor kitchens, and stone walls. Retaining walls in particular help integrate the hardscape and landscape, by shaping the land, controlling soil movement, and managing drainage. Expertise in hardscape design is needed to accomplish these feats.
The Landscape’s Living Things
The landscape may refer more to the living elements of your property, like your trees, lawn, and plantings, or the land that lies beyond the footprint of your house. A landscape professional with a strong focus on this aspect of landscaping may not necessarily have the expertise you need to design and craft the kind of contemporary outdoor living space that you’ve seen in magazines and on home improvement channels. Such a contractor may be limited in which quality materials to use and how to plan out what kind of layout would work best for your family’s lifestyle and enjoyment of the outdoors.
Finding Balance and Proportion
With landscapes, balance is important. The best front yards and backyards take proportion into account. Nothing feels overwhelming and nothing that deserves attention doesn’t get its due.
The horizontal and the vertical aspects of your outdoor living space should ideally work well together. For example, a massively tall outdoor fireplace may look out of place on the edge of a patio surrounded by an expanse of lawn, but the look can be softened and integrated by attractive shrubs in a raised plant bed that also helps to create a coziness for visitors hanging out on your patio.
When designed correctly, the various aspects of your hardscape will work beautifully together to give you an exceptional outdoor living space.