Other than the term “Landscape Design” no other term in the landscape construction industry is more general than “Hardscape”. Hardscaping can serve many purposes and can be anything from simple pottery in a planted are to large water features, pool decks, stone terraces, pavilions or outdoor fireplaces. Adding hardscape elements to the natural landscape can completely change the nature of a space by adding an artistic focal point, improved access, a new function or enhanced privacy.
Grants Gardens frequently uses a variety of hardscape features to enhance our clients properties. At a recently completed project on Sarasota bay we utilized several hardscape elements to greatly enhance the homeowners property. When working with large projects in sensitive areas like bay front property, storm water management should always be a consideration because, any hardscape element such as a deck or patio will generate a lot of runoff in the rainy season.
In this particular project Grants Gardens designed and built, several large hardscape elements including a manufactured, natural appearing concrete surfaced deck with sweeping stone stairs. The same material was used to create a large shaded porch beneath the deck and opposite another large hardscape element, a custom designed pool deck. We carried the joint-lines from the stone blocks out to line up perfectly with the stone pool deck. All of that impervious surfaces provides great space for enjoying the Florida climate, but does create the need for additional storm water runoff management. Grants Gardens installed buried drain swales to capture and biologically clean storm water runoff before it can run into Sarasota Bay.
Another example of large hardscape design is the new circular driveway, also designed and installed y Grants Gardens. We redesigned the old L-shaped one that dominated the front of the property with a more efficient circular drive, that surrounded an island of large Cuban Royal Palm Trees. This created several improvements for the homeowner including much improved curb appeal from the softer look, a beautiful new green space with large shady palms. The shape of the drive also eliminated the need to back out of the drive way. This arrangement was also more ecologically friendly as the increased green space not only captures run off but also reduces temperature in the micro climate by providing shade.
On a dramatic Casey Key location we created a truly unique hardscape feature, a large pavilion adjacent to a swimming pool with an outdoor fireplace. A treat to all the senses hardscape in the form of a natural looking waterfall and pond adds both a visual focal point and the soothing sound of a stream.
Hardscape elements are not just concrete and steel but can also have a natural organic design. On the same project Grants Gardens created a natural shell path lined with limestone boulders and colorful an drought-tolerant bougainvillea. Following the natural path we used large limestone boulders to create a natural terraced garden that was planted with drought-tolerant bromeliads and cold-hardy palms.
Hardscape can be small and simple as well. We created quite focal points in otherwise vanilla areas of the design by stone birdbaths and pottery. Hardscape can also extend to the mulch choice.
For featured areas Grants Gardens mulched around drought-tolerant bromeliads, with smooth river stones for a beautiful, low-maintenance area.
Hardscaping is one of the most useful tools to the landscape designer. When planned properly the creative and functional uses of hardscaping is nearly limitless, a little more planning and those structured elements can be environmentally responsible as well.