There’s more than one way to hold up a hillside. We can go for functional, inexpensive and lack-luster block material or we can use stones, the slope and new plant material to create something special. Every space within a landscape is an opportunity for thoughtful design. Whenever we are considering hardscape materials, be it for a slope or walk or patio area, we are taking a practical need and turning it into a design opportunity to add great structure to a landscape. “There’s never a reason to have something that offers little aesthetic value,” shares Peter WIimberg. “Great gardens start with interesting structure. Often that structure is in response to a necessity, such as a need for a path or patio area. When the project is approached with the intention of creating something visually interesting and of value to the landscape, we have met a need while creating an interesting design feature.”
Beyond the Builder’s Patio: The builder’s patio, the ever so boring slab of cement, is the least creative way to address a need and is often the first thing to be eliminated when designing a new landscape. Perhaps the size and shape is spot on but the material never is. Flagstones, bricks, even a stamped cement pattern is more interesting than the poured cement. When you find yourself making up for or trying to camouflage an element in the landscape, as is often the case with these basic patio slabs, then you know it’s a missed design opportunity for something remarkable.
Care should be taken when designing a hardscape element. In the summer, when the garden is flush with color, the hardscape features may disappear to the background. But in the winter, hardscapes should stand out beautifully. Patterns, colors and textures offered by various materials add interest to an otherwise dormant garden. The walks, paths and even the edges of the patios add movement and direct the eye and accentuate areas of the landscape. Such a feature can be a stone or brassfield fine path or something as simple as a cobblestone border following gracefully curved garden beds.