Balancing hardscape and plant material has been an ongoing discussion among landscape designers, as well as property owners. The simple answer is that the two elements should blend into a single environment. The next step in the equation has to do with taste. Which do you like more? Hardscape? Or greenscape?
Design according to your taste, but coordinate so that it flows naturally. Too many plants can make your yard look like a jungle and hide any hardscape elements. Too few plants and a glut of hardscape will look like a concrete jungle. Instead, balance them so that one element doesn’t overpower the other.
The trend to outdoor living has resulted in a higher percentage of space devoted to hardscape. However, outdoor living space is concentrated in one area of the back yard. In the ideal design, the outdoor space is close to the house so that it forms a room that’s an extension of the indoor space. Depending on the amount of space available, plants can extend from the outdoor room to form a landscape of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and even lawn.
In an effort to reduce maintenance, an increasing number of people in our area are opting for smaller back yards. If your outdoor room takes up most of your back yard, you may be able to use plants to accent or soften the perimeter of the outdoor room. Containerized plants can be placed strategically within the outdoor room to break up the large areas of concrete, bricks and other building materials. Containerized plants can also be used to define the different outdoor living spaces, such as sitting, kitchen or dining area.
The smaller your space, the more carefully you have to choose plant material since fewer plants have to provide all the green support for the area. Never loose focus, however, of the mantra “right plant, right place.” This is just as true in a small space as it is in a large space. You wouldn’t want a large tree, for example, to grow into and over your outdoor living space, especially a tree that drops stuff like pollen, flowers and seeds.
Striking the right balance can be challenging for many, so more and more families are turning over to our professional designers the task of blending hardscape and greenscape into a beautiful outdoor extension of their living space.