When you introduce stone or brick walls, concrete patios, gravel paths and wooden decks into either your back or front yard, you’ve developed a hardscape. Here are seven pointers to help you decide on how to proceed with your chosen hardscape design.

1. Choose a Theme. It’s a good idea to have a style in mind that matches the exterior of your home.

2. Look at the Big Picture. Even if you can’t do all the yard work at one time, develop a plan for the entire area. Otherwise, one of your elements might be in the way of a walkway or pond you’ve decided you want later on. You want a completed project that you love and that will last for years.

3. Deal with Drainage. Hardscape elements like a wall or patio can alter how water drains. By including permeable components, water still seeps down into the ground.

4. Professionals Know Best. When drastically changing your yard, you need to prepare the site correctly maybe you’ll need a level surface to build upon.

5. Follow Nature’s Curves. All straight lines in a yard make it look unnatural. You want to match your landscaping to the shapes of Mother Nature so not all sidewalks and paths need to be linear. Allow some of your hardscape items to bend, sweep and arc gracefully.

6. Save Some Greenery. Frame your hardscape with shrubs and flowerbeds to balance the amount of vegetation to hard surfaces. Even a small patch of lawn can work as it’s a much safer place for kids to play than concrete. By using green rocks or gravel you tone down the transition from the hard elements to your plantings.

7. Go From Grass to Gravel. Those who prefer to conserve water and eliminate chemical use in their yards can opt for gravel and stone instead of a lawn. Once you’ve laid a bed of river rock, crushed granite or pea gravel, you can say goodbye to maintenance and use that time for fun activities.

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