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Hardscaping is the secret to beautiful landscaping

Most homeowners understand the need to choose and buy the type of plants that go into a beautiful landscape. But they may not realize that creative hardscaping is the thing that really makes the difference between a lawn with plants and an impressive garden. Hardscaping adds a sense of balance, order and focus that turns an outdoor space into a personal domain of beauty and relaxation.

Hardscaping, of course, refers to the non-living elements that are part of the overall landscape design. These include driveways, decks, pathways, walls, steps, fences, patios, bridges, water features and edging around the landscape. They can be built using a wide range of materials – some natural, others manufactured – such as stone, brick, concrete, pavers and gravel.

Here are some examples of the hardscape designs we've created and a description of the materials we've used.


Bricks are one of the longest-lasting and strongest building materials available and have been used since 4000 BC. Today most bricks are concrete pavers which come in a wide variety of colors including the larger sized bricks many homeowners prefer.  Bricks are usually locked together using polymeric sands that harden like sandstone yet become pliable again when wet. Clay pavers made specifically for paving driveways, walkways, patios and more, are one of the most durable paving materials.

The subtly colored paved area pictured below is made of Holland brick by Unilock and was used to create a distinctive and decorative space at the bottom step of a home’s deck.

colored brick paved area
We used Brussels Premier Brick to create this neat yet dynamic pathway along the entrance to a garage. The contrasting neutral shades used in the border set off the delicate beauty of the calamint plants in the flower bed in front of the house.

pathway along the entrance to a garage

Pavers and Flagstone

Pavers are manufactured to assure a more uniform design of shape and color of the individual elements of walkways and paths. Flagstone, on the other hand, is made of natural stone and creates a more rustic look. When deciding between the two, consider your project’s purpose, budget and your own style.

Unilock products were used to create the patio and seat wall below. Set in a herringbone pattern, the Copthorne pavers are concrete created to look like clay brick and the wall has the look of natural limestone. Together they give the patio an old world elegance in keeping with the architecture of the home.

brick patio and seat wall
In this yard, limestone flagstones form curving steps that gleam in the sunlight and  add a touch of classic refinement to the patio.

limestone flagstones form curving steps
Here limestone flagstones lead to boulder-rimmed pools that turn an ordinary garden into a fairytale kingdom all its own.

boulder-rimmed pools


The geological definition of a boulder is a rock fragment that is 25.6 centimeters (10.1 in) or greater in diameter. Smaller pieces are called cobbles and pebbles. I like to install local boulders that are primarily granite, limestone and sandstone. They are a natural and low-maintenance way to lend character and color to a landscape design.

In the project below we used medium-size boulders to build a wall that allowed an awkward hill to be filled in and leveled. This turned a precarious pathway on the side of the house into an attractive and safe pathway from the back deck to the front lawn. In addition, the now-level side lawn has more planting space for small shrubs and flowers.

wall of medium-size boulders


Gravel is a mixture of different size pieces of stone mixed with sand and possibly some clay. The American construction industry distinguishes between gravel (a natural material) and crushed stone (produced artificially by mechanical crushing of rock.) Both can be put to good use creating water features, paths, driveways and other hardscape areas of a landscape.

Here’s an example of how gravel can be used with granite boulders to build a waterfall and stream like the one pictured below. Nothing refreshes and replenishes the beauty of a landscape more than a water feature can!

gravel and boulders enclosing a stream
To discuss the ways hardscaping could improve the landscaping of your property, just call me at 847-912-6329. I’m sure you’ll find our conversation worthwhile.



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