Landscaping Hardscapes – Softening Outdoor Space With Plants


Hardscape structures like patios and decks enhance outdoor living. Landscaping hardscapes with plants softens the space, providing color and texture. There’s no better time to get your Madison WI area home ready for outdoor fun.

Hardscapes like fire pits, pools, paver patios and retaining walls serve a purpose. Adding to their performance with colorful, low-maintenance plants and décor makes sense, too, doesn’t it? The right blend of hard and soft surfaces provides balance.

Landscaping Hardscapes | Marvins Brick Pavers | Madison WI
A functional paver patio and wall benefit from a plan for landscaping a hardscape.

Landscaping is often addressed separately from creating hardscapes. That works. But blending the plans together creates a more complete welcoming space. Consider your structures:

  • Porch
  • Patio or deck
  • Sidewalks
  • Pools and water features
  • Driveway
  • Garage area
  • Sheds and garden/lawn structures

These all have “hard” edges – sharp straight lines, etc. Consider your yard – large open spaces of grass and maybe trees or shrubs. Landscaping to soften the edges and blend the two spaces blurs the lines and creates visual interest.

Plan for Landscaping Hardscapes

Understanding how you use our outdoor living space is the first step in planning a landscape solution. How do you and your family use the existing space? What do you want to accomplish with the changes you have in mind?

Does your property include a slope that needs to be tamed? Retaining walls work, but without plants around them can be stark and drab. That where shrubs on top and at the base of the wall soften rough edges. Or, does your long straight driveway look like a landing strip? Soften the edges with plants and mulch.

If you already have a patio or low-level deck, begin by sitting there and envisioning activities. What is the focal point of the space? If there’s a natural feature catching your eye, use it in your plan. The benefits of your yard don’t end at the edge of your paver patio, do they? Make sure there’s a natural flow throughout the yard – walkways and paths to special features or around the house for instance.

Large plants provide color, attract wildlife and add security. Professional landscapers caution to be careful in placing large plants – because when you bring them into your yard, they aren’t nearly as large as they will be! Way too often the 6-8 foot tree that looks great near the corner of the house today is a serious problem 10 years down the road when it has double in size. Rule of thumb: give trees and shrubs room to grow!

Concentrate on turning the severe corners like where a sidewalk meets a driveway into an eye-pleasing fluid, curved border.

Turn a common entry into an uncommonly attractive and welcoming entrance with a combination of hardscape and landscape.

You Can Soften Hardscape

When it comes to softening edges and appearances you have several options. When working on ideas to improve your outdoor experiences, consider:

  • Small plants – strategic placement of plants is the first consideration for most improvements around hardscape installations. It is a cost-effective way to soften harsh surfaces and edges. Shrubs, flowers and grasses are excellent choices.
  • Large plants – planting trees is an excellent way to improve your outdoor space. They add shade, wildlife cover and security – eventually. Most landscaping includes small to medium-sized trees that will grow into the space. Select trees for their ability to provide shade, their growth rate, eventual size and shape. Include their fall colors. In addition, research their spring flowering capacity – if you have allergies consider avoiding flowering trees. Those that generate fruit or berries also represent a clean-up chore.
  • Non-plant elements – you can soften the edges of your paver patios with decorative elements, too. Large boulders are a great example. You can also use chairs and tables, containers of flowers, benches, etc. Add color to seating areas with colorful cushions and pillows.

When you’re looking to soften the hard edge of your patio, fire pit area and other backyard entertaining spots you have plenty of options. Whether you want flowers, flowering shrubs like Knockout roses, decorative grasses, evergreens or trees for fall color there’s a wealth of options from which to choose.

A word of caution:  consider each member of your family when you plan your landscape additions taking into account allergies, etc. Is springtime pollen in the air a problem? Don’t make it worse by adding flowering trees. Are there little kids running around? Roses are beautiful but their thorns don’t play nice with children. How about family pets? Some plants are far more pet-friendly than others.

Consult A Pro For Landscaping Hardscapes

So, you’ve committed to an exciting paver patio, walkway and fire pit plan. How do you complete it with the right complement of “soft” elements? Professionals recommend going slow. Especially for small installations. You want to make the most of your investment in paving materials and designs, right? So taking the next step to complete the overall project is logical, isn’t it?

The professionals at Marvin’s Brick Pavers have decades of experience complementing custom installations of pavers and decorative poured concrete. Marvin Martinez and his crews evaluate what you want and provide professional recommendations. Give him a call at 608-630-8855. Or contact him via email at www.marvinsbrickpavers.com.

Marvin’s skilled hardscape professionals work daily to provide complete outdoor spaces. They combine landscaping with concrete pavers, bricks, stones and decorative poured concrete. Complete your outdoor living spaces and make them more inviting and enjoyable all year around. At the same time, make a statement and elevate your yard to the level of a true outdoor room by landscaping hardscapes in your Madison WI backyard.

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