Garden Hardscapes

Bonnie Nowicki

Happy March to all. Warm weather is coming. As gardeners, we think of lovely plants to fill our gardens, but the actual bones of our landscapes give our gardens year-round appeal and a place we feel comfortable in. Hardscaping refers to any nonliving feature of a landscape. These elements can be functional or decorative but should complement the nature around it.

Whether your yard is big or small, paying attention to a few key points is important. Build your hardscape elements first or pay attention to where those structures are already in place, such as patios, walkways, walls, fountains, large planters, or rockery. These elements shape the garden and define where you can plant. Nicely defined spaces work well for most people. A focal point, such as an arbor placed in the center of a garden or at the end of a path, draws your eye to it. Choosing a garden theme, such as a cactus, an English, or a Japanese garden, also defines your yard. Then your finished landscape look will be cohesive.

Also think about the purpose of your hardscape, like fencing for privacy, pavers or brick for raised beds, or mulch for around trees. Consider keeping the main, year-round plants you choose to only three different plants, such as evergreens, cacti, and agave. Then you can fill in seasonally with annuals to introduce splashes of color and texture.

Now is the time to evaluate and make changes to your present garden hardscapes  in your yard that aren’t quite right. Be bold in defining a wonderful focal point or other landscape feature, like a unique, colorful pot or sculpture. Remember, our personal landscapes are creative works in progress. Every new season offers us the opportunity to experiment.

Happy gardening!