Choosing the Best Material For Your Hardscape

Dreams of your own backyard oasis probably don’t include a space without structure, overrun by plants. Hardscaping is essential to making your property as functional as it is beautiful, offering safe and practical ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Deciding which material is best for your hardscape project depends on the application and aesthetic you’re looking for. We’ll cover a few of the most common hardscape materials and how to use them in your hardscape design.

Brick

Used for centuries of building, brick is a common hardscape material that is classically beautiful and versatile. Because of its porosity, brick isn’t as resilient as some less porous hardscape materials unless it is well sealed.

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Though its shape seems limiting, brick can be arranged in a variety of patterns like herringbone and basketweave.

Brick is best used for:

  • Driveways
  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Walls/Archways
  • Fireplaces

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Concrete

Available textured, stained, or stamped, concrete doesn’t have to be boring. If you are looking for a more minimalistic and modern look, however, concrete can be a great hardscape material.

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Durable and versatile, concrete is often a choice of DIYers (though we recommend the design and installation knowledge of a professional).

Concrete is best used for:

  • Driveways
  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Steps
  • Fire Pits/Fireplaces
  • Planters

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Pavers

Specifically designed for hardscapes, pavers come in endless styles, finishes, and stains. Typically made of concrete or clay, they are solid and oftentimes interlocking to create longevity and stability.

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While some homeowners may have their hearts set on using natural stone, pavers can often achieve the same effect at a lower cost.

Pavers are best used for:

  • Driveways
  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Pool Decks

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Natural Stone

Large slabs of natural stone are becoming more popular as rustic, imperfect design enters the spotlight again. Homeowners tend to choose natural stone to create something completely unique from the uniform patterns of pavers.

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Flagstone, slate, sandstone, and granite are popular natural hardscaping stones. In general, installing natural stone is a more labor-intense process and, in turn, more expensive.

Natural stone is best used for:

  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Pool Decks

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Loose Stone

Loose stones are generally used in hardscape designs to add softness and variety. While gravel, river rock, and decomposed granite are common loose stones, other materials like recycled rubber and glass are used as well.

  • Driveways
  • Walkways
  • Garden borders

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Tile

Porcelain, ceramic, and mosaic tile are often thought as something reserved for indoor use. But with some careful choosing, installation, and maintenance outdoor tile can add colors, patterns, and elegance you can’t find in other materials.

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Rated for different climates, outdoor tile should be chosen based on its ability to withstand the elements in your area.

Tile is best used for:

  • Patios
  • Walkways
  • Vertical elements (e.x. retaining walls, islands, bars, step risers)

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Wood

Often the first material homeowners think when they hear “hardscape,” wood comes in a countless natural and faux varieties with varying degrees of durability and cost.

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Regardless of source material, wood requires more maintence than other hardscaping materials like natural stone or brick.

Wood is best used for:

  • Decks
  • Pergolas
  • Fences
  • Steps
  • Planters

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