When you envision the landscaping of your yard or property, it’s important that you consider both softscape and hardscape elements. Softscape refers to living horticultural elements in landscaping. It includes plants, flowers, flower beds, trees, shrubs, and the maintenance of those areas. Hardscaping refers to the elements of landscaping that are not living, that are man-made. These elements can be large or small, structural or decorative, and can be constructed of different types of materials. Hardscapes often provide yards with aesthetically pleasing focal points that are designed to enhance your outdoor living space.
What Are Some Examples of Hardscapes?
There are many types of hardscapes that can be added to your yard’s landscaping design. Some of the most common types of hardscapes for outdoor living spaces include:
- Freestanding walls
- Retaining walls
- Fireplaces and fire pits
- Barbecue islands
- Water features
What Are the Common Materials Used for Hardscaping?
There are various types of materials that are used to construct hardscapes. Different materials have attributes that will depend on the durability, cost, style, and maintenance that you want for your home. The following are some of the options you’ll find for hardscaping in Western North Carolina:
You’ll find asphalt used frequently for driveways, it’s a popular material that is widely used in all parts of the country. Asphalt is a material that tends to be fairly high maintenance, depending primarily on the climates where it’s used. In areas where there are extreme temperatures, high or low, asphalt may not be the best option. Western North Carolina doesn’t typically have extreme highs (over 100 degrees) or lows (below freezing), so properly maintained asphalt hardscapes may last for up to 15 years. However, asphalt does have to be resealed periodically, which can be costly, and it may need patching from time to time.
Brick hardscape fixtures are traditional in landscaping and they offer a variety of different colors and sizes. While brick is a material that can be used in nearly any climate, it can be labor intensive to install (which means higher labor costs) and depending on the fixture, it can require regular maintenance. For example, brick driveways need to be pressure-washed a couple of times a year, and some brick fixtures will need sealing and resealing to keep the bricks from peeling or flaking.
Concrete is a material that is often used for patios, walkways, driveways, and walls in Western North Carolina. It can be stamped with different textures of patterns or painted for a more appealing look. Concrete is an affordable and durable hardscape option that doesn’t typically require as much maintenance as asphalt and brick. However, it isn’t as attractive as other options and it can be prone to cracking with heavy usage. Repair of concrete hardscape features can be complex and should be done by a professional – which can be costly.
Wood is a popular hardscape material that is often used for fences, decks, and pergolas. It can be very aesthetically pleasing, bringing warmth and beauty to outdoor living spaces. It’s also not as expensive as other options. However, wood hardscape fixtures are high maintenance, requiring sealing regularly. Additionally, wood is prone to splitting, cracking, fading colors, rotting, and insect damage. In humid summer months and rainy seasons, like that in the Asheville area, wood can be a troublesome option for hardscapes, as it will require more maintenance.
Natural stone is the most durable hardscaping material. It’s been around as long as the earth, and some of the earliest structures made with stone are still standing after hundreds of years. Natural stone offers many different size and color options and comes in various types. In Western North Carolina, the most common types of natural stone are limestone, granite, marble, sandstone, and slate. Using a stone that is native to our region means that it is stable to the climate, making it even more durable and sustainable.
Natural stone is very versatile, making it a good option for fixtures that have curves or unusual shapes. It will outlast any of the other hardscape material options and requires very little maintenance. Because of its versatility, natural stone design options are endless, and it provides beautiful and unique additions to any landscape.
The only drawback to using natural stone is that it is more expensive than other hardscape materials. However, when you consider the durability, beauty, versatility, and low-maintenance requirements, the cost of natural stone is worth the investment.
Natural Stone Hardscapes in Asheville
If you are considering adding hardscape fixtures to your outdoor living space, it’s important to know all of your options and the pros and cons of each. At Ambrose Landscapes, we can design and install natural stone hardscape fixtures to your home that will enhance the natural beauty of your yard while providing long-lasting durability and easy maintenance. Let our team of skilled designers and landscape architects help you bring your desired landscaping to life.