What is Hardscaping?

Landscaping, plantscaping, softscaping, hardscaping….suddenly everywhere you look, new terms and trends are popping up! But what do these words really mean for your yard at home? 

Landscaping, of course, is the sum total of every action taken to improve the look and ambiance of a piece of land. Plantscaping takes some of that lovely greenery indoors in the form of strategically-placed potted plants. Softscaping refers to the placement of greenery outdoors. And finally, hardscaping is the underlying permanent or semi-permanent structure that holds the softscaping in place. Clear as mud? Don’t worry – this is our complete guide for everything you need to know about hardscaping your home or business. 

What Is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping is the hard materials – bricks, rocks, concrete, planters, and other structures – that form the outline of your landscape design. Hardscaping is essentially the foundation of your landscape. Without hardscaping, all those carefully chosen trees and shrubs and flowers won’t stay in place for very long.  

When your greenery is placed firmly into a structure of hardscaping, it stays put. Hardscaping is the opposite of green, living things. It is the inanimate, non-living, durable and long-lasting “home” in which your greenery will live.

Benefits of Hardscaping

Hardscaping comes with a number of benefits, some more visible than others. One of the major benefits is that it keeps all your greenery in place.

Well-designed hardscaping is also able to deter weeds and pests. It can encourage desirable structured growth (up, out or both) and present a seamless curbside appearance. Hardscaping can help to control runoff from watering and storm waters. The choice of non-porous or porous materials can encourage water to soak into the soil or direct it into controlled runoff channels.

One fun new trend in hardscaping is increasing emphasis on hardscape design for small or vertical spaces.“Living walls” incorporate hardscaping and softscaping to bring greenery into small outdoor or indoor spaces to refresh and oxygenate the air while adding ambiance and natural beauty to formerly functional areas.

Hardscaping can also help visitors to your space understand what areas are for parking and walking. They also set apart what areas are designed to be kept clear of foot traffic.

Effective Hardscaping

The most effective hardscaping begins with a study of the local climate. Arid climates demand a different hardscaping strategy than do tropical climates. For areas regularly impacted by drought-based water use restrictions, hardscaping can help maximize retention of available water. Careful hardscape design can also compensate for areas that are less hospitable to greenery while still adding visual appeal.

The choice of hardscape materials can also have a surprising level of impact on future maintenance needs. Well-chosen hardscaping can reduce maintenance in all sorts of ways. From guarding against weeds and pests to working with the local climate and seasons to maximize greenery all year round.

Types of Hardscaping

As the landscaping industry becomes more sophisticated, the line between hardscaping and softscaping begins to blur. Today, there is an increased demand for “living” semi-permanent or permanent materials. These are used to create eco-friendly landscapes at home and at work. With this new demand has come a range of new hardscaping materials that are both alive and inert.  

Examples of traditional manmade hardscaping materials can include artificial turf, bricks, prefabricated stone, weed barriers made of nylon or poly materials, glass, concrete, and metal. Examples of naturally occurring “living” yet inert hardscaping materials can include sand, pea gravel, decomposed granite rock, finely ground marble stone, river rocks, and mulch.  

It is important to understand all your hardscaping options. It’s also smart to use the right terminology to talk with your landscape designer about your wants. Here are three terms you need to know:

Soft-scapingThis term refers to using naturally occurring hardscaping materials along with greenery to craft the design for your space. A good example would be filling in walkways with river rocks and then lining the walkways with moss.

Mixed hardscaping– Combining naturally occurring and man-made hardscaping materials together with greenery for your landscape design. A good example would be filling in walkways with river rocks, lining those walkways with concrete stepping stones and interspersing each stepping stone with moss.

Living hardscaping– Alternating living greenery with non-living natural or manmade hardscape materials. A good example would be alternating concrete stepping stones OR river rocks with moss.

Reducing Hardscaping Maintenance

A well-planned hardscape design can help reduce your ongoing maintenance needs, saving you both time and money. Here is where hardscaping, softscaping, and landscape design meet to create a landscape plan that is durable, lovely and low maintenance.

Three factors can greatly influence the maintenance of landscaping: choice of climate-friendly greenery, hardscaping/softscaping materials and planned drainage. In other words, you don’t want to walk out after the next heavy rainstorm to discover your entire landscape has washed away down the drain! Similarly, you don’t want to spend your winter worrying about what is going on underneath all that snow. Pest control is often best accomplished by carefully choosing weed barriers, fertilizers, mulch and soil that will encourage plant growth and send pests packing. 

If all of this sounds intriguing yet overwhelming, remember we are here to help! Here at Hidden Creek Landscaping, we’re here to answer all of your questions and ready to help you take on any project. Give us a call today. 

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3 Landscape Design Trends for 2018

Taking advantage of the latest landscape design trends will help you enjoy your home more and boost your property value. This is why landscape designers and property builders explore the evolution of trends and ideas in landscaping. Here are the landscape design trends we’ve seen grow and ones we predict to be popular in 2018.

Trend 1: Outdoor Living & Dining, Fire Pits & More

We like to treat your backyard as another room and added living space. This trend will continue to grow this year as more people are interested in spending more time outdoors. We strive to create livable outdoor spaces that will add to the function and enjoyment of your home.

Outdoor Dining and Kitchens

We believe kitchens and outdoor dining will be more popular this year. Spaces dedicated to outdoor dining and entertainment are great for people who have upcoming special events or often throw parties. Having a kitchen as well just adds to the convenience and overall atmosphere.

Firepits

In connection to this, fire pits are also going to grow in popularity. Fire pits allow people to stay outdoors longer when it gets dark and even in colder temperatures. Apart from adding ambiance and keeping the atmosphere warm, the pits also double up nicely as a sort of table. In the mornings and afternoons, you and family can gather around it for coffee and conversation.

Outdoor living, of course, is not about dining only. Many are also interested in sunken lounges, outdoor showers, daybeds, as well as comfortable outdoor furniture.

Trend 2: Masonry, Textured Paving, and More

Masonry and stonework patios and walkways are predicted to undergo changes in 2018. 

patio

Now there are a variety of exciting stones including granite, limestone, porphyry. These can be turned into unique cobbles and flagging to break up larger spaces into smaller, textured paving. These stones are also becoming increasingly available in different shapes, sizes, and finishes. This will give landscapers more freedom to introduce exciting ideas in cobblestones such as mixing rounded shapes with linear lines. In short, expect asymmetry to be the leading trend in place of the polygonal paving of the yesteryears.

When it comes to flooring, wood-effect tiles have risen in popularity in the last couple of years. We predict this trend to continue now with the introduction of sophisticated wood-effect porcelain tiles. These are heat, scratch, and stain-resistant, hard-wearing and we may expect an increased use of them in both cladding and flooring.

Copper is another material that is making a comeback this year. Since the color of copper gradually weathers to a beautiful looking bluish-green patina, this serves to provide a wonderful sense of contrast with the surrounding wood, stone, and the gravel. More generally, the trend is moving to a naturally weathered patina away from the shiny stainless steel of the last years, so all the more reason why copper is going to get popular.

Trend 3: Small Gardens and Unique Plants

The garden trend in 2018 seems to be moving to smaller gardens that are integrated with the outdoor living space. In other words, the gardens and living spaces will come closer and often mix into each other instead of being separate areas of our outdoor space. So, expect a lot of plants inside and around your outdoor kitchen. Also, we expect pergolas with integrated heating, drainage, and lighting will grow in popularity.

Interesting Plants

As to the plants themselves, the opinions seem to be a little varied. Some believe that cacti and other succulents will hold their ground. We can mix these with a variety of other unique plants. For example, dwarf fan palms or dwarf palmettos may be preferred along with the big ‘Rex’ with its two feet palmate leaves to lend an exotic charm to the garden. However, this can be toned down by mixing some country-style plantings to soften the hard edges.

small garden

Others contend that shrubs and woodland plants will steal the trend this year. The woodland style with its mix of tufted grasses, anemones, mosses, and ferns may become popular following the installation of a similar style at the NEO Bankside at London. However, according to some other garden experts, we may be moving away from grasses, palms and naturalistic perennials towards a variety of unique and exotic shrubs.

Ecological Gardens

Another big trend in 2018 can be the ecological gardens. As interest in locally grown food continues to increase, we predict that greenhouses with a variety of edible plants may see a big comeback. These gardens may include some unique plants too, but for the most part, they will include locally-sourced materials and plants native to the area.

If any of these trends sound appealing to you or sparked your own ideas, contact us today! Contact us to discuss your dream landscape and put plans into action to make it happen.

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Spring Landscaping Tips After Winter

After the long months of winter, a number of homeowners recognize the need to perform spring landscaping tasks in their yards. This freshens up the lawn and other parts of the landscape that are in need of extra attention at this particular time of the year. Doing so gets the yard prepared for the growing season. A yard clean up checklist for spring can be separated into 6 categories of related tasks:

  • Major Clean Up
  • Flowerbed Preparation
  • Begin Planting
  • Control Weeds
  • Control Pests
  • Plant Care

Major Clean Up

This aspect of preparing the yard for spring landscaping will require a rake, gloves, and perhaps a few other small tools. Picking up after the snow melts can be quite a messy, yet necessary task. Therefore, you should roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves, and get to work. You can also ask a landscape maintenance specialist for help.spring landscaping preparation

Leaves that have blown around, trees, and perennials can remain in place and mulched over.  If they are in modest quantities, there is no need to remove them. However, there are often matted leaves all over the yard after the winter has passed, so we recommend you do remove most of those.

The cleaning process requires you to remove debris. This includes clearing away dead leaves, grass, pinecones, and whatever other unwanted rubble that may be on the lawn.

Flowerbed Preparation

For flowerbeds that performed optimally the prior year, the best thing to do is put additional compost around the plants for fertilization. Also, you should remove any weeds that have sprouted in the beds. This will prevent them from spreading and growing more as the season goes on.

You have a few options when it comes to opening up new planting beds. They include breaking new ground using a tiller and transforming lawn space into planting beds. There is also the option of building raised beds. You could consider soil solarization in areas that are particularly rough.

If you have broken ground to open up a new planting bed, there is no doubt weeds will find it fast. Therefore, in many situations, it’s a good idea to lay a landscape fabric on top of the ground. This should be followed by adding a layer of mulch.

Begin Planting

Early spring is ideal for the installation of trees and shrubs and the planting of perennial flower borders. However, this is only true if the perennials are hardy.  For tender perennials, annuals, and seed, you should await the passing of the last frost date for your region.

Control Weeds

Sometimes it is much easier to battle weeds prior to their emergence, instead of waiting for them to rear their heads. While landscape fabric can be used to eradicate weeds in flower beds, pre-emergent herbicides may be helpful for your lawn, especially to control crabgrass.  

Control Pests

Precautionary measures can be taken to deal with garden pests. Many gardens require the protection of deer fencing or rabbit-proof fences. In regions where deer could pose a problem and fencing is not an option, installing deer-resistant plants is a wise idea. You could also look into growing rabbit-proof flowers if this is relevant to your situation.

Plant Care

  • Pruning

Trees and shrubs can frequently benefit from spring cleaning as well. The period between the end of winter and early spring is ideal for pruning shrubs that will flower in late June and last through much of the fall.  For example, during this time you can prune shrubs like butterfly bush, abelia, beautyberry, clethra, caryopteris, smooth hydrangea, rose-of-Sharon and panicle hydrangea. It is also prime time to prune crape myrtle, St. Johnswort, vitex and summer-blooming spirea. Spring-blooming shrubs like rhododendron, azalea, lilac, weigela, viburnum, and forsythia should be pruned right after they start to flower.

There is no doubt that dead branches should always be removed.  However, the need to prune off live branches is typically determined by personal taste or one’s need to give the tree or shrub a more visually appealing shape.  The ideal time to prune shrubs to give them a desirable shape differs from shrub to shrub. 

  • Mulching

Any deep coating of mulch that may have been covering your perennials throughout the winter should be monitored to determine when they should be pulled away.  This is necessary for the perennials to emerge unhindered. There is no exact date for when the mulch protection should be removed from your perennials; this has to be played by ear.  

spring flower care

The exact time to remove this mulch will differ based on where you live. However, if a deep layer of mulch has been applied, it will ultimately have to be scraped away from the ground immediately under the perennials to prevent smothering.

A comprehensive spring clean up readies your lawn and other parts of the landscaping for the spring and summer seasons. However, so much more can be achieved through spring cleaning. In many cases, this will save you from frustrations as the season progresses.

Contact us for more tips and to discuss how we can help you clean up after winter and create a beautiful landscape for spring.

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Keeping Your Plants Safe During Colder Nights

Colder PlantsIf the weather gets a bit too cold at night during the transition months and your plants are too sensitive to the cold, you may need to help your landscape to survive. A bit of extra plant care will help certain planting withstand the rigors of the cold. Below are some landscape tips that can be used to help with gardening when the nights get cold:

Carry Potted Plants Indoors

Temporarily removing your plants from the low temperatures is an easy solution to keeping them safe when the nights get too cold. Hanging baskets and potted plants can be brought indoors. Even moving them to the sun room or garage will help to keep them safe as the temperature will increase by at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, you should decorate the interior of your home with your plants. They will get the necessary without causing clutter.

Cover Your Plants

To solve the gardening issue of keeping plants warm during cold nights, a tarp, drop cloth or old blanket can be thrown over vulnerable plants. If your plants need protection from a few cold nights, an old blanket could provide adequate protection. To avoid damage, choose the covering and spread it out carefully so the leaves or branches are not touched by the cover. This could require the use of some stakes to prop it up. This technique works best to safeguard against frost since the covering will not significantly increase the temperature.

Add a Layer of Mulch

Applying a layer of mulch will help with insulation and keep moisture and heat in the soil. It safeguards the root systems of the plants against cold temperatures. A good choice is mulch made of pine straw or wheat. This is because it is excellent at trapping heat and is easy to remove once it is no longer needed.

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Essential Tips for Gardening In The Heat Of The Summer

Lawn care and gardening in the heat of summer Hidden Creek Landscaping July 2017Summer lawn care can be tougher to manage than other times of the year. The high temperatures can take a toll on your lawn and plants, leaving grass looking dry and yellowed, not to mention wilted flowers. Here are some tips for gardening during the heat of summer:

Water often

Keep grass green and flowers well watered during hot stretches. Check the forecast frequently to see if rain is expected. If it isn’t, be sure to water your lawn and plants in the early morning. It’s best to water in the mornings rather than the evenings. Try to avoid watering during the peak of the afternoon heat, since it will be harder for the lawn and plants to absorb the moisture.

Choose the right plants and the locations

When planting shrubs, flowers, and vegetables and herbs, it’s important to choose the right areas of your property. Consider the amount of sun that each area receives during the day. Aim for morning sunshine and afternoon shade for vegetable gardens. Check the requirements for each plant specifically. Some require full sun, while others need just a few hours.

Stay on top of weeding

Believe it or not, some weeds actually thrive in the sun and heat. In the evenings, you’ll want to check over your flower beds and keep up with weed removal. Try to pull them out by the root. Use a weed killer when necessary to tackle tough weeds.
Heat and humidity can cause stress for your lawn and garden. Proper care and upkeep throughout the summer months are critical to maintaining the beauty of your property. If you want a landscaping design that will look great throughout the summer without a lot of effort, consider working with a design-build firm. At Hidden Creek Landscaping, we will be able to come up with the best plan for your property, ensuring ideal care for every season.

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