How to Hardscape Your Backyard

Hardscaping includes all the hard or man-made items in a landscape that do not change over time. Landscape features such as patios, pools, ponds, retaining walls, fire pits and even driveways are all considered hardscape elements. Many people spend a lot of time thinking about softscape — the living features — they’d like to use during landscaping projects, but hardscape should be their first point of concern since it affects water absorption, erosion, and drainage issues that will dictate the type and number of plants that can actually survive in their yards. 

Learning how to hardscape your backyard correctly will dramatically improve the quality, particularly the longevity, of your landscape design. While this article may make it sound easy, there are many complications and design considerations when hardscaping depending on your backyard. We salute all the DIY-ers out there, yet we recommend working with a landscaping professional to ensure it all works out according to plan. With that being said, here are some details on how to hardscape backyards:

Survey the Property

It’s very important to survey your entire property before beginning any type of landscaping project. Even if you’re only wanting to focus on one particular area, like a backyard, you still need to have an understanding of your land and the possible issues it might conceal before you commit to any hardscape plan. Although you don’t necessarily need to hire a professional land surveyor (although access to the actual survey you had when you bought your property will be required for all large-scale landscaping work), you do need to take a walk around the totality of your yard to assess its boundaries, slope, soil type, current vegetation, access to light, and potential hazards or obstructions (such as large rocks, poor drainage, etc.). You’ll also want to think about the type of maintenance you’re prepared to accept. All of these things will determine what is and is not possible in your overall hardscape design and prevent you from settling on a layout that won’t accommodate or safeguard modifications and/or expansions in the future. 

Resolve Drainage Issues

Water is the number one obstacle to any hardscape project. If you want to know how to hardscape backyard areas successfully, you need to have an in-depth understanding of the ways in which water will drain from your lawn. Placing a retaining wall, koi pond or patio in one area of your yard will inevitably affect water flow and drainage, which can, in turn, precipitate a host of problems on your property. In addition to the mess and damage excess water can do to your home and to your yard, it can also give rise to environmental concerns, with water runoff collecting fertilizers and other pollutants on its way to nearby ponds or streams or simply being needlessly wasted. Consider the ways in which adding a hard structure (like a walkway, patio, or outdoor kitchen) to your backyard will alter water drainage on your property as a whole, and then have a plan for addressing them before you start to build.

Set Your Budget

Next, set a budget. To hardscape backyards effectively, you’ll need to budget for a variety of things: permits, materials, labor and decorative touches (like rugs, furniture, etc.). Final prices will, obviously, depend on whether you decide to tackle hardscaping your backyard yourself or whether you partner with a professional design company. Plan your budget so you know what you can afford.

Dream and Build

With a budget in hand, you can finally get to the fun part: designing! Pick features that speak your dreams, as well as your needs. Hardscaping backyard areas should be more than a utilitarian endeavor. Now’s the time to imagine the possibilities!

The Hiner Advantage

Learning how to hardscape backyards can be made easier with the help of a reputable landscape developer. Our team of designers at Hiner Outdoor Living has nearly 15 years of experience creating outdoor living spaces that connect people with nature, as well as each other. Our spaces transform simple yards into enduring works of functional art. 

Further, we can help create 3D renderings of your space that include new hardscaping features so you can see it before we build it. Please contact us to schedule a free discovery call and start imagining what your backyard could be!