phone icon(703) 433-1863
arrow icon

7 Unique Hardscape Installations to Make Your Own

By Ed Ball | Published on January 16, 2024 | 5 min read

blog post image

There are many ways to landscape your home’s yard or garden space. Some are more permanent than others. Some enjoy redesigning their landscaping and replanting their garden beds each year. Others prefer the elegance and unique style that can be achieved with hardscaping. Hardscapes are landscaping elements made of stone, brick, and wood that are built to last. Patios, retainer walls, and fountains are all wonderful examples of hardscaping that can transform your yard into a garden paradise with just a few structural changes.

Of course, what truly makes hardscapes rewarding is the chance to make them your own. Unique hardscaping ideas can make your garden a special and personalized space compared to all other yards and gardens. At Ed Ball Landscape Architecture, we specialize in those permanent and semi-permanent techniques that shape your garden into a truly unique outdoor space.

If you’ve been dreaming about adding different features to your garden, let’s dive into trending hardscape installation ideas that you can make uniquely yours.

1) Footpaths Through the Garden

A well-grown garden is best enjoyed when you can explore through welcoming footpaths and beautiful hardscapes. Gravel or paving stones beckon you into tunnels of green foliage made from vibrant bushes and the canopy of your backyard trees. You can create a winding path past flower beds leading toward secluded, shady seating, hidden statues, and peaceful pools of water.

Footpaths are also a practical addition, providing a useful feature for preventing muddy “desire paths” to commonly visited spots like the shed, the outdoor AC unit, or the poolside.

You can make footpaths unique in your choice of material. Colorful gravel gives your footpath a color palette. Also, your choice of stepping stones can be as charming as the path itself.

Bench with soft pillows in a garden.

2) Half-Wall Seating and Retainer Walls

Walls are a great addition to a garden with depth and height. Retaining walls allow you to create taller areas of dirt and garden space. It creates high and low spaces in your garden where there was once a simple yard. They also allow you to tame a more hilly and uneven yard by working with the natural grade and height of your land and shaping it into a beautiful garden.

Walls also provide division between spaces on flat ground. Any garden wall can double as a seat when capped with a wide and comfortably rounded stone top.

Walls can be personalized with your choice of brick, squared stone, or field stone, the style of the wall top, and the shape of raised earth or separated spaces that you create.

3) Tiered Planter Design

Many of the most extensive hardscapes feature planters tiered in height. Raised concrete, brick, or fieldstone planters provide a place to garden in a perfectly controlled area where weeds and foot traffic will never intrude. Raised planters are also easier on the back for those who don’t kneel on the ground as easily as they once did. They also create a visually dynamic appearance for your garden.

Tiered planters can create a cascading garden space where you can layer in waterworks for irrigation and beauty or flat spaces for seating as well as garden beds.

Backyard patio with a fireplace.

4) Stone Firepits and Outdoor Fireplaces

Everyone loves a cheerful outdoor fire to gather around. There are two very popular ways to add fire hardscapes to your garden. One is a stone firepit. It resembles the top of a well built up to contain a wood or gas fire that guests can pull up chairs to enjoy all the way around. Another is an outdoor fireplace made of brick or fieldstone. It provides a gorgeous towering chimney, a warm hearth to sit on, and perhaps even a built-in pizza oven above the main fireplace cavern.

There are many ways to personalize firepits and outdoor fireplaces. From your choice of material to the unique style and design used to shape each hardscape feature.

5) Statues and Clearings

For some gardens, statues are the perfect addition to your elegant personal landscaping style. Statues look wonderful centered in an open clearing or nestled in surprise seating areas around the green curve of a backyard thicket. You can turn your yard into a classic statue garden. You can also choose just one statue as the crowning jewel of your landscaping design.

Statues are a truly personal choice regarding both the individual art piece you select and the material it is made of. Most modern statues are cast in high-quality concrete. You could also commission one carved of natural stone. You could even incorporate an outdoor statue that you already love or source independently in certain markets.

Statues can be accentuated in their private clearing with a bed of flowers, covered gravel, or other hardscapes. They can overlook a reading nook or you can place seating in a wide ring around your statue, or any number of other arrangements to make your garden unique.

Garden fountain with two overflows, in antique style.

6) Fountains and Birdbaths

Water features are another wonderful way to make your garden stand out from any other you have seen. A beautiful fountain can set the tone for a garden and you can place them in the sun. It can also create that calming sound of running water in the shade of your outdoor living space instead. Fountains cycle a reservoir of water and can bring greenery to life with their sculpted beauty.

You can also use the same water feature technology to create a birdbath that is always clean and full. If you are an avid bird watcher, a decorative and functional bird bath can provide the perfect addition to a configured yard to welcome avian activity near your back door.

7) Artificial Creeks and Waterfalls

If you love water features but want a more natural look, consider designing your creek or even a little stone waterfall for your backyard. Just like a fountain, you can cycle a reservoir of water to flow endlessly around your beautifully stone-lined creek and waterfall to add a timeless natural beauty to your garden. Add a little bridge for a romantic and charming effect. Place your outdoor living seating and shady places near the running water to enjoy its soothing sight and sound.

Personalizing Your Hardscape Design

For each hardscape feature, there are endless opportunities to personalize the design. Your choice of materials and styles can be adapted to suit your unique aesthetic and achieve an outdoor space that is truly yours. To create the unique space you’ve envisioned. You can work with a designer for professionally designed and fully personalized landscape features.

Ed Ball Landscape Architecture can bring your vision of the perfect garden into reality. Contact us to book a consultation with our professional landscape architecture designers.