What Are Hardscape Materials?
If you've determined that your home's impeccably decorated interior needs an exterior to match, you'll find that one of your first tasks is to consider the different types of hardscape materials that are at your disposal. You'll look at your choices (and your budget) and then build your landscape plan around the hardscape features that you want to add. You're curious what "hardscape" means? Hardscape refers to the immovable pieces of your home's exterior, such as stone patios, wooden decks or gravel walkways, as opposed to trees , bushes and the like, which are semi-movable (because they can be dug and replanted). The key types of hardscape material are: wood, false wood (composite deck material), concrete, bricks , tiles, loose stone (like pebbles, small stones and gravel), solid stone (in slabs or tiles), and pavements, which are pre-cut shapes that form a paved area by fitting together as interlocking puzzle pieces (usually made of stone or concrete).
Wood is probably the first material to come to mind when daydreaming deck designs, so it's hardly surprising that it's the most common hardscape material. However, a reasonable amount of maintenance may be needed. Hardwood will not stand the test of time (or weather) as well as a solid stone or composite hardscape, so it is usually not the best material for walkways (which is not to say it can't be done). But the well-maintained wooden deck is sure to be fun to look at, and even nicer to sit on. Restore, paint, and seal your wooden deck when it starts to look a little worse for wear.
Deck that is not made of real wood or aluminum is called a composite or synthetic deck. It's designed to last, doesn't break, is insect repellent, prevents mold and rot, offers excellent traction (meaning you're not likely to slip) and doesn't need to be sanded and resealed. It sounds perfect, except that it could be costly for those on the budget. Composite decking is an eco-conscious hardening material since most of the brands are made of wood fibers and recycled plastics.
Recent years have seen the growing trend of polished concrete floors indoors, but concrete is also a long-standing staple of hardscape materials. In reality, it's so long that you may not even remember the concrete hardscape that you've had in your house. If there's a walkway leading to your front (back or side) door, if you've got a garage or a driveway, if your apartment building has a courtyard — there's a good chance of some hard-hitting concrete in there. The material lends itself particularly well to the modern industrial look, which the patio shown above nicely pulls off with polished concrete slabs (and unfinished concrete walls).
Look around: brick has been around for decades, as a material for houses , roads, sidewalks, walls and all sorts of structures. Bricks have specific patterns that can make the surface look more formal or casual. The used brick is currently a common, environmental, re-use material form for outdoor projects.
We love the impact of tiling inside our homes, and we can love tile hardscaping outside as well. Certain types of tiles are suitable for outdoor use, such as natural stone (like the ones shown above) or concrete tiles. Tile is certainly at the top of your hardscape material choices, and with repairs and replacements best left to the experts, the cost of maintaining a tile hardscape will start to add up. Be sure to secure your investment by sealing outdoor tiles.
Pea gravel, Mexican river rock, small stones, gravel, recycled rubber mulch and recycled glass are all known to be loose material hardscaping. Think about it this way: if the material is used as a landscaping area and is not lush, living, developing landscaping, then it will probably be called hardscaping.
Natural stone or flagstone is a common and attractive option for outdoor patios, courtyards and other areas that need hard-drying. If you use natural stone, you'll be dealing with bumps, ridges and different heights and weights. Irregular flagstone pieces look more rustic, while the geometric forms are more formal. Stone or flagstone may be mounted over a sand or pea gravel base or mortared into a concrete slab.
Pavers can be made from a number of materials — the most common pavers are concrete, brick, and flagstone. Placing pavers can be a fairly easy project on a DIY scale, given that you create a permanent border to prevent shifting and slipping. Pavers are usually mounted on pea gravel and bedding sand, but can be mounted on DE (diatomaceous soil), dirt or grass.
Are You Considering Hardscape for your Front Yard or Backyard?
At DPG Pavers and Design, we’ve been providing our customers with specialized Landscape and Hardscape Design and Build services for over 30 years. DPG Pavers and Design, headquartered in Walnut Creek, California is the best curb-appeal and outdoor living space designer and installer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Appearing on HGTV’s Curb Appeal and featured on Discovery Channel’s program Renovation Nation, our team of skilled designers and landscape engineers provides top-quality service and professionalism our customers love. DPG Pavers and Design offers 2-D and 3-D conceptual home and landscape design plans that allow you to visualize your dream space and make that dream-concept a reality. If you are considering hard landscaping projects (like interlocking concrete pavers) that cover the entirety of your yard contact DPG Pavers and Design to schedule your free consultation today!