These 12 Landscapes Prove that Hardscaping Is the Heart of Your Yard

Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg, landscape design by Joseph Richardson Landscape Architects

Text by Bethany Adams

Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg, landscape design by Joseph Richardson Landscape Architects

Everyone knows a well-planned landscape is the difference between a yard and a masterpiece, and it’s true that bursting blooms and lush greenery have a lot to do with that transformation. But just as vital are the spaces in between—the stone pathways, carved fountains, and brick patios that add both flair and function. So, whether you’re looking to make over your outdoor space or just interested in appreciating this unsung hero of landscape design, let these hardscape ideas inspire you to spend more time outdoors this season and into the next.

A Creative Touch

Photography by Laurey Glenn, landscape design by TMD Landscape Design

A dash of creative planning can be the difference between a basic design and a standout. Laid on the diagonal, these flagstone pavers allow for a bit of green in between, creating a diamond pattern that’s the perfect introduction to a storybook cottage.

Falling for Landscape Design

Photography by Kindra Clineff

Want to recreate the feeling of a secluded oasis in the forest? In addition to being a gorgeous visual feature, this waterfall provides a relaxing ambience with the sound of rushing water. If you don’t happen to have a creek running through your property, a manmade water feature can accomplish the same effect!

Pizza on the Patio

Photography by Gordon Beall, landscape design by fritz&gignoux landscape architects

The best landscapes are the ones that include personal touches designed to meet the homeowners’ specific needs—like this patio space that features a stone pizza oven. When planning your hardscape, consider the details that your family will enjoy the most and pass on the ones that don’t spark joy!

Elegance Outdoors

Photography by Stephanie Welbourne Steele

Enjoy sophisticated outdoor dining? A permanent fixture for your table and chairs will elevate alfresco entertaining and ensure guests always feel comfortable.

Garden Grandeur

Photography by Stephanie Welbourne Steele

Nothing evokes daydreams of wandering through a Jane Austen novel like a brick garden path lined with stately columns. Vines laden with blushing roses add abundant romance, and a pair of chairs provides a place to savor the view.

Mix It Up

Photography by Emily Reiter and Rhianna Mercier

Just like with interior design, layers are everything when it comes to designing your yard. Introducing variety, like pairing loose flagstone with structured terra-cotta paths as seen in this garden, creates depth and visual interest in your hardscaping for the same curated look that makes your home so inviting.

Form and Function

Photography by Kindra Clineff

Retaining walls are often necessary features for sloped yards, but they’re also the perfect opportunity for adding extra beauty. Irregular stones contribute rustic charm, and the varied levels in this yard provide a number of spots for showcasing the sweetest blooms of the season.

Raising the Standards

Photography by John O’Hagan

Raised beds are popular among home gardeners for ease in cultivating herbs and flowers, and they’re unparalleled when it comes to adding character to your garden space. While there are various options for materials and aesthetics, the stone beds in this garden are classic and simple in their beauty, making them ideal for balancing a looser planting style.

A Guided Tour

Photography by Kindra Clineff

The hardscaping of your yard can shape the way guests experience your garden, guiding them through like an old friend. Planning your paths with care will show off the fruits of your labor, and as with this garden space, a well-planned path can merge in time with the softer side of the design, creating something that feels truly natural.

Fun by the Fire

Photography by Jim Bathie, architectural design by Creative Exteriors

Extending outdoor get-togethers into the cooler seasons is easy when your gathering space centers on a cozy fireplace. Designed to be an outdoor living room, this bricked patio offers more than enough room for plentiful seating prepped with warm throws ready to keep every guest comfy well into the autumn evenings.

Transitional Design

Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg, landscape design by Joseph Richardson Landscape Architects

Designing a landscape with separate outdoor “rooms” is a great idea when it comes to hosting and getting the most out of your yard, but connecting those spaces can present a challenge. This architect paid the same attention to the transitions as he did to the main spaces, and the result is a pathway that’s more than picturesque. Wandering pavers flanked by large boulders provide layered texture, and a carved Japanese lantern adds a touch of serenity to this in-between space.

Calming Waters

Photography by Gordon Beall, landscape design by fritz&gignoux landscape architects

For an extra calming touch of atmosphere, consider adding a water feature to your yard, whether in the form of a full-standing fountain, or something a bit more subtle. Rippling water located near an intimate seating area can bring your space to just the right level of zen.

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