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Soften Your Landscape with Hardscaping

Attractive plants are just one factor in the equation for attractive landscaping. Hardscaping is what beckons us to while away lazy summer days inside the garden. Here’s a brief look at hardscaping options beyond flower beds, and what they can offer:

  • Decks and patios are invaluable when it comes to summertime entertaining. They also add to the value of your home. They can be constructed of wood, stone, tile, concrete or landscaping blocks. A wooden deck can wrap the perimeter of your entire home, or a modest concrete block patio can add a little oomph to your small urban lot.
  • Seating can range from rustic hand-hewn wood to formal wrought iron. Of course, seating is a must on decks and patios. But you can also nest benches, swings and hammocks into specific areas of your garden. These cozy little nooks lure us to relax with a glass of sun tea.
  • Walkways and paths invite guests to enjoy a leisurely stroll, leading them from one beautiful planting to the next. Walkways can be as simple as handmade stepping stones, or as elaborate as brickwork. They can be constructed from stone, brick, tile or concrete. More artistic designs include mosaics fashioned from rocks, tile, or found objects embedded in concrete. Straight walkways bring structure to a formal garden, and curved pathways lend a more informal meandering mood.
  • Barbecue pits and grills are for you if you love to cook and eat outdoors in summer! Your deck or patio may not be complete without a barbecue pit or grill for entertaining. Some homeowners opt to install roofed open-air outdoor kitchens, complete with counters.
  • Lighting sets the mood on your patio or deck for evening entertaining. It’s also an important safety measure. You can choose from overhead or in-ground lighting fixtures; solar-powered fixtures will save you money and decrease air pollution. In-ground fixtures light walkways most efficiently and probably produce the least light pollution. Be sure to check about light pollution ordinances in your area--besides, you wouldn’t want to interfere with your dreamy stargazing on those warm summer nights!
  • Water features such as ponds, waterfalls and fountains are an instant relaxation magnet in any landscape plan. People are naturally drawn to the soothing sound of trickling water. Water features also provide water for our feathered friends--not to mention other critters, if your goal is to provide backyard wildlife habitat. If you’re planning a pond, you must first check with the proper local authorities to check for buried cables. You can stock your pond with koi fish or goldfish, or you can simply provide a water source for wildlife. You can purchase a pump that’s suited to the size of your pond and pumps an adequate number of gallons per hour to keep the water properly circulating. You can also purchase mosquito dunks to place in the water; they kill mosquito larvae but are harmless to wildlife. Many smaller pumps and fountains can be solar-powered, saving you money.
  • Fences and walls define your overall garden space, perhaps even the entire perimeter of your property. Picket fences evoke a cottage feel, privacy fences transform the most inner-city of urban lots to relaxing retreats, and hand-fitted logs lend a rustic air. Walls can be constructed of brick or stone, they can be straight or curved, and they can be short or tall. Stone walls can be made of stacked stone, or mortar can solidify the structure.
  • Screens and gates help define smaller areas within the garden. Screens can be used to define a cozy seating area. Gates beckon us to follow pathways into the garden. Screens and gates can be purchased or handmade from natural materials. Some gardeners enjoy using unusual found objects, such as antique doors or car hoods, or fashioning them from vines and large branches.
  • Trellises provide a place for climbing plants such as clematis, morning glories, grape vines, climbing roses or ivy. But be careful not to plant ivy on a trellis attached to your home, as it is very destructive!
  • Arbors, pergolas and gazebos provide much-needed shade. They also offer cozy little seating areas. Arbors and pergolas are attached to decks, whereas gazebos are free-standing. Gazebos can be screened if you live an area where the mosquitoes are as large as hummingbirds! Arbors and pergolas can become living roofs and walls, where their lattice work provides growing space for grape vines.

Hardscaping makes your garden inviting, shows off your green thumb, and adds solid value to your home!

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