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Hardscaping adds value to one’s home

By Kristi Hendricks

VCE publication 426-087 (The Effect of Landscape Plants) states that the value of an attractive landscape to a home’s perceived value has often been stated at 15 percent. According to one survey, the preferred landscape includes a sophisticated design with large deciduous, evergreen and annual plants with hardscape.

Hardscape is our focus today and is just as much fun as the horticultural elements of a landscape (the softscape). Hardscape refers to hard materials incorporated into a landscape design. This term often includes patios, driveways, retaining walls, walkways, pergolas and other landscaping made up of hard-wearing materials. The materials may consist of wood, stone, concrete to name just a few.

There is no better way to accent the softscape than with eye-catching brick, natural and fabricated stone, metal and even pottery. The hardscape can set the basic groundwork for your landscape, then use plants to draw the eye to the unique hardscape features that reflect the home gardener’s style.

With a little hardscaping, gardeners can add dimension to even the flattest of properties by building in differing levels, defined curved edges and weaving walkways to create an inviting space. Moreover, walls, arbors, fences and stone boundary lines augment privacy from neighbors and passersby in a most politely enhancing way.

One of the biggest benefits of incorporating hardscape is lowering the maintenance factor. Once the hardscape is created, the feature lasts for years to come. That is, no watering, mowing, pruning or trimming is needed.

Hardscape is also water efficient. Similar to utilizing drought tolerant plants like native cultivars in your softscape, using hard features is an effective way to cut the cost of labor and water. A backyard hardscape such as a patio or terrace may allow you to essentially go water free in that area. No watering the lawn and plants except for the container plants that are easily maintained.

In today’s real estate market, hardscape materials can increase the value of the property by creating an outdoor extension of the home’s indoor space. The homeowner is adding usable square footage that can even be heated with patio heaters and fireplaces. These areas can be enjoyed by family and used to entertain guests outside the home sanctuary.

Using thoughtful hardscape materials can even assist to reduce soil erosion. Incorporating a pea gravel driveway can assist with rainwater absorption. Using stone boulders to shore up the banks of culverts and using a French drain instead of down spouts can avoid wash areas in the landscape while adding beauty.

Instead of rushing to a crowded park, build a backyard patio where quick placement of table and chairs for a home-cooked picnic will be appreciated. Look for hardscape inspiration in VCE publications.