Over the last 40 years, nature-based recreation has decreased by 25%. What better way is there to encourage your family to get outside than to improve your own yard? If you’ve got an underutilized backyard and want to breathe life back into your outdoor living, you may want to go beyond basic landscaping and opt for a hardscaping project instead.
Hardscaping refers to the subset of landscaping that deals with non-plant elements. Hardscaping companies install fences, walls, paths, arbors and much more. If you’re nervous about taking on something too big, here are five small hardscaping ideas that will make a big difference in your backyard.
- Stone Pathways:
You can add both function and visual interest to your yard by installing walkways. But instead of concrete or gravel, consider landscaping stones or imitation stone pavers. These are just as durable as standard concrete (and easier to repair), but will make your yard feel less generic.
- Upgraded Retaining Walls:
Retaining walls may be a necessity, depending on the topography of your backyard. But that doesn’t mean they have to be made of ugly cement blocks; retaining walls can be clad in stone, brick or even tile for a beautiful architectural feature. Ask a few hardscaping companies for ideas if you’re not sure what best matches your home’s style.
- An Outdoor Hearth:
If you want to encourage your family to gather outdoors, a masonry fireplace may be the best choice. You can use your backyard sooner in the spring and later in the fall with the fire to warm you, and kids (of all ages) can even toast marshmallows.
- A Mini Kitchen:
A full outdoor kitchen may be out of the budget. But you can get the same feel by adding some countertops on either side of your gas grill. Depending on how your house’s plumbing is run, a small sink may also be quite affordable.
- Arbors and Pergolas:
Part of the goal of hardscaping is to make your outdoor space feel just as architecturally inspired as the inside of your home. To make your yard feel more like a room, use a combination of arbors and pergolas, creating doorways and roofs.
You might find that hardscaping costs are a little higher than if you stuck to landscaping alone. But the results also last for longer and require less maintenance. And you might be reaping benefits even when it’s time to move: Outdoor design can raise a home’s price and reduce the time it stays on the market. About two-thirds of homeowners think they’ll recover 60 percent of their landscaping investment when they sell, which is higher than the return on investment for many other remodeling projects. And according to numerous industry experts, small amounts of money–judiciously spent–can have a big impact on your final offers.
What backyard landscaping ideas speak to you? Do you have any advice on choosing hardscaping companies? Share in the comments.