Have you been searching for ideas to liven up your landscape design? Refresh your look with a new take on hardscaping. By transforming your hardscape to match your vision, you create a low-maintenance aesthetic that is sure to delight.

Creating the outdoor living spaces of your dreams starts with a plan, including everything you want in your hardscape. Interested in outdoor fireplaces or even entire outdoor kitchens? Put one on the plan—you can see if it is practical later.

Have fun with your builds. Draw designs to see styles, functions and colors work together. Even if it is far-fetched, fill your design buildout with everything in your long-term dream.

Will those garden beds you want be possible by adding a stone brick retaining wall? Can you spruce up your water features with colorful river rocks? Should you do natural stone steps to the outdoor kitchen? Would decomposed granite work better than stepping stones? 

There are so many hardscaping elements to fill with personality, style and function. To help you get started, we created this guide full of our favorite hardscape design ideas to spark your creativity.

Hardscape Design Guides

Do you want to get the most out of your hardscaping but not sure where to start? Our design guides will help you get the ball rolling and the ideas flowing for your hardscaping centerpieces. With our tips on handling hardscaping materials, you will undoubtedly find your perfect blend of style and substance.


Driveways are the underappreciated anchor of the front yard. We may appreciate their function and keep them in good shape for practical purposes. But beyond that, we never truly realize their role in adding to our home’s aesthetic. In reality, taking time on designing a fashionable and functional driveway boosts your home’s curb appeal and resale value.

Design your driveway to accommodate the traffic you anticipate. Consider its shape and size to find a style that works with its purpose. When selecting materials, try to find an option that matches the house’s architecture to create visual harmony. Let’s look at some popular driveway materials to choose from:

  • Poured Concrete: Poured concrete is extremely versatile, capable of being formed and finished in any shape you desire. If you have a curved or angled drive, pouring concrete is ideal for a smooth, seamless consistency. Though proper installation can be pricey, you will enjoy an enduring look for several years.
  • Gravel: A budget-friendly alternative to concrete and stone, gravel is great for adding style to your driveway. Its natural coarseness and array of available colors can be merged cohesively with surrounding plants. And, for the classic ribbon driveway look of the early 1900s, gravel is a top choice for filling the lanes.
  • Pavers: Affordable and resilient, brick pavers are available in several red, brown and grayscale shades. Brick is fantastic for a naturally weathered look. You can also work brick into numerous classic basket weave, herringbone and bond patterns. 
  • Grass Block Pavers: Want an environmentally conscious driveway that promotes lush grass growth and proper drainage? Grass block pavers are a perfect way to blend an attractive block pattern with turfgrass. Choose from a variety of different concrete and recycled plastic shapes to create your own unique design.
  • Decomposed Granite: Between gravel and concrete lies decomposed granite—a naturally attractive and super functional driveway material. Finer and more steadfast than gravel, decomposed granite is blended with resin when used in driveways. This gives you the sturdiness of asphalt without sacrificing the granite’s permeability and inherent beauty.

Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall

An unassuming hardscaping element, retaining walls work hard to give you more landscaping opportunities. If you deal with sloping, unusable land, retaining walls let you create a brand new workable platform. Maybe you have drainage issues that can be solved with some land shaping and retaining wall support. In so many ways, installing a retaining wall can be the answer to fulfilling your wildest landscaping dreams.

  • Poured-In-Place Concrete: Concrete is one of the most durable hardscape materials for retaining walls, patios and much more. For modern designs, the ability to precisely mold concrete gives you pristine geometric shapes and refined cleanliness. When done right, concrete walls offer a powerful statement and long-lasting support.
  • Dry Stone Walls: A dry stone wall consists of stacked stone tiles held in place by their own balanced weight. You can choose from a variety of rock types, letting you customize color and durability to suit your needs. Dry stone walls are expensive, but their careful craftsmanship, rugged beauty and captivating textures are sure to attract attention.
  • Gabion Walls: Gabion walls are a traditional building element consisting of cages made of steel wire mesh. For thousands of years, builders have used gabion walls to reduce soil erosion, improve drainage and provide exceptional support. With wide varieties of optional rock fillers, gabion walls create perfect color and texture palettes to complement your landscaping.
  • Pony Walls: Able to fulfill a number of functions, a low pony wall can be a great addition to your garden. Pony walls make excellent retaining walls for raised gardens and can be used to provide extra seating. Cinder blocks are ideal for getting the desired 18-24” height, but concrete, brick and stone are also suitable options.

Decks and Patios

Decks & Patios

Patios are ground-level platforms made of stone, pavers, brick or concrete. A deck is lifted above ground by metal or wood supports. Flooring usually consists of lumber or composite materials.

Plan your deck or patio depending on your land’s characteristics. Flatland can handle a patio. If you want an extension to your home, or if you have sloping land, a deck is more suitable.

  • Wood Flooring Deck: Wood flooring for decks is an ideal complement to the natural landscape. If you want long-lasting performance and color retention, composites are an excellent option. For a gradually weathering look, an unfinished deck may be the best choice. With the enormous array of stains, paints, and wood varieties available, you control how your deck ages.
  • Stone Deck Tiles: Stone deck tiles are interlocking tiles that make for easy installation and an enduring surface. These inexpensive tile options are pre-fabricated, complete with professional designs and finished textures. Choose from slate, marble, granite and sandstone for a simple yet impressive patio surface.
  • River Rocks: Less jagged than gravel and pebbles, smooth river rocks work in numerous contexts, from potted plants to patios. Given their small size and broad color range, river rocks are capable of creating the most intricate hardscape designs. If you have a low-traffic patio, river rocks create a visually fascinating ground cover.

Sheds & Storage

No outdoor space is complete without smart storage for all of your gardening tools and supplies. Depending on your needs and budget, you can build a custom shed or buy a prefabricated shed from a supply store. Of course, sheds add another design difficulty from an aesthetic standpoint, so you want to maximize their function.

The first step is to choose your location. Find a spot where you need it most. If you need it to store garden tools, keep it near your garden. If it is your DIY sanctuary, move it far away from the house. Wherever you plan to use it, however, ensure it is on level ground. Sheds have foundations but a level surface maintains its structure and proper drainage.

Consider everything you will store in your shed, such as shelving, work surfaces and materials used around the garden. Measure your pieces out to make sure you design or purchase the right-sized shed. If you plan to use it as a workplace, make sure you have room to maneuver and operate.

Finally, determine how you will fit your shed into your hardscaping design. Pull existing hardscaping design elements like building materials into your shed’s facade, so it harmoniously blends together. In many cases, though, a natural wood shed fits in seamlessly without any overhauls.

Swimming Pools

Swimming Pools

Swimming pools are the ultimate luxury and will surely garner the most attention from guests. For that reason, it demands special care in its design.

  • Natural Swimming Pools: Free of irritating chemicals, natural swimming pools use plants to filter water, providing a relaxing, refreshing experience. Natural pools are usually separated into a swimming zone and a water garden, separated by a sub-surface wall. This lets the plants naturally clean the water while preventing muck or algae from accumulating in the swimming side.
  • Pool Landscape Plants: The plants around your pool can transform it into a relaxing, secluded mountain lake or an idyllic desert oasis. Whatever your style, try to choose evergreen plants that keep their leaves to reduce cleanup. Be mindful of the view, choosing tall plants to keep your swimming pool out of the neighbor’s line of sight.

With a little inspiration and help from talented hardscape contractors, make building the property of your dreams a reality. If you need help creating the perfect hardscaping layout, our hardscape services at Exscape Designs have you covered. We’ll help you research, design and build the function and beauty you deserve around your home. For more information on landscaping design, contact our team of experts today.

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