The term “hardscape” refers to a pretty broad area of what we design as landscape architects in Knoxville and the surrounding areas. It’s a term most often used among landscaping industry professionals but it encompasses materials such as pavers, concrete, and natural stone or features such as retaining walls, outdoor living such as fire pits and fireplaces, and outdoor kitchens.
Because Carex Design Group is a design-focused company, nearly all our projects include some sort of hardscaping element. While plants may evolve, grow, and seasonally change, hardscapes are the constant elements that remain as is for many years, which is why we choose durable materials and quality installation methods. Here’s a peek at my design philosophy for hard elements in your Knoxville landscaping:
Selecting Hardscape Materials
Man-Made Materials Vs. Natural Stone
While some landscape architects in Knoxville and elsewhere might specialize in one style of hardscape design, using either all natural stone or man-made materials, I prefer to use a combination of the two. My choice of hardscape materials often depends on the location, clients’ tastes and appropriateness for the space as well as the budget.
One aesthetic I often use is to combine materials from various sources into a single landscape design. I might use man-made block for a wall while choosing natural stone for the counter of an outdoor kitchen. I may choose natural flagstone to accent concrete pavers in a patio to juxtapose the materials.
For the project pictured above, which I highlighted in this post, I used a paver that mimics flagstone alongside a natural flagstone patio. While in the design shown below, I used retaining wall blocks to wrap a pavilion column and topped it off with a natural stone cap to tie in the natural stone fireplace.
In addition to the source of the materials I use in a hardscape design, I also take color into account. While it’s important to consider the color of a home when choosing materials, it’s a common mistake to think that the landscaping materials have to match the home. I tend to lean away from using this style, which my wife Julie refers to as “matchy-matchy.” Instead, I think of the color relationship. For instance, a common method we use on brick homes is to look at the mortar joints and use colors similar to it.
Another option to focus on when selecting the color of hardscape materials is creating drama. For example, selecting contrasting colors for a single area can add a lot of visual interest.
In addition to adding interest by color choice, I use texture choices to add interest to hardscape designs for our clients in Knoxville and surrounding areas. I can create an interest between the field and border of a patio by using smooth natural stone squares for a fire pit patio with wispy grass joints.
The contrast can also extend vertically, as with this project where the rough split-faced block contrasts with the smooth paver.
Texture choice can also help guide directional traffic in space. Julie and I saw a great example of this in Spain recently. Check out the post to learn more and see what else inspired us during the recent trip.
Consider the Use of the Space
Most of our clients have several outdoor areas that we incorporate into a single landscape design, which can often create competing priorities in a space. When designing outdoor spaces, I develop a hierarchy of uses. Simply put, I want the primary-use areas to take precedent over less used areas. I do this through several methods. An example of this would be designing a wide path with pavers for a walkway leading to a front door that’s frequently used while designing a flagstone stepper path for a side entrance used less often. For the project pictured below, I created paver walkway adjacent to a flagstone stepper path. While the first path is the primary use, this client’s dog ran into the yard using the alternate path, which made it important, but secondary to the main walkway.
Another example of how texture choices can impact a design would be using smoother materials like concrete or slab-style pavers for open areas intended for movable outdoor furniture (first photo above) compared to using more textured material such as flagstone for areas with fixed features such as seat walls or furniture that isn’t often moved (second photo above).
If you’re ready for the perfect paver patio, walkway, outdoor living area of other hardscape feature in your Knoxville landscape, fill out our contact form or call me at 865-765-5550.