Hardscape

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Just as with home construction, most landscaping projects are a series of smaller projects. Some are confined to the realm of landscaping and some are basic construction projects that just happen to be part of the landscape. Things such as decks, sheds, walls, fences, steps, and etc. which are considered the hardscaping, would all fit the discussion.

Deciding on which elements and features your yard needs and what will fit your budget can sometimes be a challenge. A simple assessment might help determine it for you. While some hardscaping may be created purely for looks and beauty, some may be added to the project due to necessity. Look around your yard and see what might be necessary.

- Retaining Walls, Rock Walls - Retaining walls can be used to create raised garden beds, to prevent erosion, and to stabilize steep-sloped banks. They can be crafted from large river rocks, field stone, railroad ties, heavy timbers, concrete blocks, or even small boulders. Quality of construction is critical: they must be sturdy enough to support the weight of the fill behind them. Seek professional help for best results. Even if you want to build walls yourself or if they don't need to be extensive, you should always get advice on specifications.

- Steps - When considering steps and stairs, safety should be a priority along with aesthetics. Steps that are too small or that possess risers that are too steep can pose safety concerns. If steps' incline must be steep to accommodate a more dramatic slope, it is wise to add some sort of railing feature. Steps may be constructed from a variety of materials such as bricks, cobblestones, concrete, landscaping timbers, concrete blocks, and quarried stone. Railroad ties or landscaping timbers can be used as step outlined and filled with pebbles or crushed stone to add an interesting design element. Flat, natural boulders can create an attractive and rustic set of steps. Steps can also be interspersed occasionally with landings to add interest.

- Walkways/Paths - Since we gardeners tend to have an optimistic, looking-up approach, we have the looking down for last. In contrast to the above height-oriented options, we do have to think about the ground we walk upon. Planning walkways and paths for both function and design is essential. Paths can be rustic ones by utilizing bricks, good quality flagstone such as Chilton stone, crushed rock, pavers, or woodchips. Steppers should be placed so that the surface is flush with the lawn for personal safety and for the convenience of mowing. Other attractive paths are frequently created from brick type pavers. A note on woodchips: they make a perfect ground cover for areas where smaller children will be playing, i.e. under a tree swing or jungle gym.

When considering your non-plant garden features, also think about the overall theme for your yard and its various uses (dining, entertaining, outdoor living, children's area, etc.). Be sure to include design elements that you love, such as nautical elements, roosters, symbols of the sun, etc. and that you will enjoy. Whether your garden is for your cottage, mansion, suburban dwelling, or retreat, these features will add appeal and complete your vision for the perfect outdoor area.

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