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Start Your Garden With Hardscapes31 October 2011
If you don't know what the term "hardscape" means, you're not alone. Lots of people, mostly those who haven't had a lot of gardening experience or who have never had their own yard, are unfamiliar with the term. It actually refers to the parts of your landscape that are "hard", such as concrete paths, decks, patios, retaining walls, gazebos, and other structures.
When planning your garden, starting with the hardscape makes perfect sense. You have a defined space to work with and chances are, you're going to do more than just cover it with a patch of grass.
You're going to have areas for bushes, trees, and flowers, defined with some sort of hard barrier between them and the grass, right? You're also going to want a space where you can put outdoor furniture like a table and chairs, so this calls for a patio or deck.
You also might have some issues to resolve because of the slope of your land. Slopes can call for retaining walls and there are different materials to choose from depending on your needs and the look you like.
Maybe you're lucky enough to include a swimming pool or hot tub in your landscaping plans. You might also want an area for a play structure for the kids. These will be a big part of your hardscape planning.
Lastly, you might desire to fence in the whole area or parts of the area, like to keep the dog in or the neighbor's dog out. Or want lattice work to hide the garbage cans and air conditioning unit, and give yourself privacy.
As you can see, there are many reasons to use hardscapes in your landscape. There are also many different materials involved, and installing them will probably be the biggest, most expensive, and back-breaking part of putting in your yard.
But installing your desired hardscape is the first step, after design, because it's the skeleton of your garden. You won't plant flowers until you have that retaining wall in to retain them, and you won't plant your wisteria until you have a trellis for it to climb up.
When planning what structures you need and where they go, consider carefully the materials and construction possibilities. Build these to last so you don't have to build them again.
It becomes infinitely easier to plant your "softscape", trees, bushes, and flowers, after all the permanent hard structures are in place. Hardscaping helps you to see the whole picture and gives you the actual space left to work with.