Landscapes are more than just an arrangement of plants and mulch. To be really functional, a landscape needs hardscaping.
Hardscaping is really anything that's not growing: ponds, decks, pathways just to name a few.
Ponds seem to have been around for ever, but in recent years, they've taken on new importance for the home landscaper. An entire industry has sprung up providing materials and equipment for home installations. Plus, there's an entire world of different planting materials for ponds, not to mention the additional interest that fish might provide. All of which add interest and appeal to any visitor.
A new deck quickly expands the useable living space for the homeowner. Decking materials have changed drastically too in the last decade. Gone is the arsenic treated lumber and in are the new recycled building materials that provide a natural-looking attractive deck that never needs refinishing.
Decks also open up many possibilities for additional plantings that soften the hard edges often associated with decks. Pots strategically placed on the deck can be moved and changed quickly to keep that deck looking new and inviting.
Besides decks, the gazebo, or trellised area can provide a cozy nearby get-away for the homeowner to relax and entertain under. Gazebos are traditionally covered areas and trellis areas while performing the same function as a gazebo, provides a natural overhead ceiling of some vining plant.
Whether you only cook an occasional hamburger outdoors or enjoy full-blown cook-outs, the barbecue area has become an almost necessity for outdoor enthusiasts. New sophisticated grills and barbecues are now on the market that will perk up any landscape whether you want to use firewood, charcoal, natural gas, or propane, you'll have plenty of options to choose from.
Whichever cooking method you opt for remember that any barbecue will produce plenty of heat. Make sure that plants and decking materials are far enough away so they don't become scorched. This is especially true for nearby, or overhead plants. In fact, there should be no plants above a barbecue area. Also allow for plenty of space so that no one must get close to an operating barbecue to get from one place to another.
Getting from one place to another is half the fun in the landscape. In places that have frequent foot traffic, a suitable path may be ideal. First, during those periods of the year when weather is wet, having a foot path makes it much easier walk about without worrying about wet grass or compacting soft soggy soils.
Opportunities to add appeal to the landscape with paths are endless. Materials for pathways can be as simple as a few stepping stones placed at appropriate intervals, to graveled pathways with sunken curbing to keep the stone in place.
Besides crushed stone and gravel, other similar options include mulched paths. These will need periodic replenishment, but other than that, they make a great, natural looking pathway.
Stamped concrete is ideal for really heavy traffic areas. While more costly to install than other methods, this definitely adds a classic touch over just a plain concrete sidewalk.
Solar powered lights have been on the scene for some time now, but the really new items are solar powered fountains. Want to install a fountain without having to run electricity to some distant place? These new solar powered fountains can be placed just about anywhere.