Hardscape Design

Hardscape Design: The Elements Of Great Backyard Hardscape Ideas

The word “hardscape” describes the man-made features used in landscaping and garden design, such as paths or walls. This is in contrast to vegetation, which is known as “softscape”.

Planning and designing a backyard is an exciting task. Whether it’s setting up a barbecue grill, adding a unique fireplace, a water fountain, a treehouse, or even a simple swing, hardscape ideas are always fun projects. However, do you already know where to start? And are you doing this project alone, or are you going to get help?

Take these factors into consideration so you can properly commit to the project and its timeframe. But before you start the physical work, you need to get the design down. We’re here to help you come up with and design great backyard hardscape ideas.

Backyard Hardscape Design Ideas

Homeowners know that a property may come with a certain amount of compromise. For some, this means making peace with a cozy yard rather than sprawling grounds. However, there will always be workarounds to this. While personal style and preference will undoubtedly play a pivotal role, there are elements we can learn. When coming up with your design there are four key elements to great backyard hardscape ideas. These are as follows:
  1. Line: The line element is what guides the viewer’s eyes. It “suggests” to people where to look.
  2. Form: Form discusses the shapes of every object; from plants to walkways and how they can and should synchronize with each other.
  3. Mass: Mass refers to the space an object occupies. Think space and think big. The mass element means patios, garden beds, houses and treehouses.
  4. Void: As the name suggests, the void elements speaks about empty spaces or “the space containing nothing.” These could be the space in between two garden beds, or the space between the gate and the walkway.

When the four synergize with each other, there will be harmony in the overall hardscape design. The goal is to find and sync the four elements in each backyard hardscape idea.

Example: Too much mass means little-to-no void. This equates to a chaotic garden in contrast to finding a balance between the two. It does not have to be 50/50 between them; preferably, a harmonious blend is the key. You wouldn’t want to create a backyard which is beautiful but doesn’t have space to walk around.

Here are some ways you can implement these elements into your hardscape ideas.

1. Try to keep everything simple

Whoever first said “less was more” had the right idea.

When thinking up hardscape ideas, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and for the yard to become cluttered. Keeping decorative adornments to a minimum is a great way to streamline your overall backyard hardscape design.

Also, another way to go about this idea is to maintain a healthy lawn. Cut and trim plants regularly and do not neglect proper plant care.

If there are kids who are prone to leaving sporting equipment and toys in the yard, always encourage or teach them to pick up after themselves.

2. Add color!

A tame and harmonizing backyard naturally offers fewer opportunities to add pops of visual interest. By using bold colors, you can make each one count. Take the same elements you would use indoors and apply them to your backyard. Color can be added with the cushions and pillows on outdoor seating, and even through the color of the seating itself.

You can even use decking or patio slabs to incorporate color. Decking can be stained or painted, and patios and paving can also come in a variety of colors. For more unusual color pops, think about plant pots and even the use of tiles.

Don’t be afraid to seek inspiration elsewhere as well.

When it comes to picking plants for the softscape element of the garden, you can use flowers to further support your color choices. Just make sure to stick with two or three overall colors to keep the design cohesive.

Also, another way to go about this idea is to maintain a healthy lawn. Cut and trim plants regularly and do not neglect proper plant care.

If there are kids who are prone to leaving sporting equipment and toys in the yard, always encourage or teach them to pick up after themselves.

3. Fun with focal points

A strong focal point changes perception. What is small can be viewed as big, and what is narrow can be viewed as wide. This principle opens up a lot of possibilities for your garden.

Consider laying a gravel pathway through your backyard that will define a clear sense of flow through the backyard hardscape. If there are many different paths in your yard, always include a pathway that leads to each area. This makes your yard more coherent and sensical.

You could also create a focal point in the form of a patio or decked area, a water fountain, or even a trellis.

4. Cheat height with vertical landscaping

If you’re dealing with a small backyard, you have to work with the space you’ve got. However, there is a way to work around this limitation. You can create the illusion of having more space by going upwards. Vertical landscaping will encourage the idea to take height into account; thus, it will make the area feel more spacious.

There are two ways to go about this. The softscape method and the hardscape method.


Make sure to use many different kinds of plant height to capitalize on the amount of visual interest you are adding to the space. Include tall plants like tall perennials, sprawling ivy, and shady trees. However, you can also throw shorter plants into the mix by stacking them up on planters or flower beds.


Beside your wall, consider placing a group of hanging pots. A great alternative to pots are plastic bottles. If you choose to recycle, then you’re helping the environment as well! Also, should you have enough space in your garden, a trellis filled with plants and flowers would be good as well. A trellis works beautifully well as an arc where people can walk under to enter your yard.

5. Give your space functionality

One of the ways to make a space look cohesive is by defining its function. Plan your design around how you would ideally like to use your backyard. A large dining table would be vital for alfresco summer dining. Or a plush seating area would be perfect for relaxation. You might also like a fire pit if you have enough space. Consider sticking with one primary function or breaking your yard up into a few distinct areas.

Sometimes, it only takes a little to get a lot

With just a little planning and effort, your yard can be transformed into a charming hideaway that you, your family, and visitors can enjoy for years to come.

These backyard hardscape ideas will have you relaxing in a space that is equally functional and aesthetically pleasing. So much so that you won’t even be thinking about the square footage.

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