By Megan Wild, author of Your Wild Home Blog 

Landscaping is all about thinking outside the box to create social areas that are also gorgeous to look at. Hardscaping is the perfect way to take your outdoor spaces to the next level. When designing your new outdoor space, keep these tips in mind to add value to your home and create interactive elements for your family and guests.

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Trees and Gardens

Naturally, flowers, shrubs and even established trees can take your hardscape to the next level. Part of making a beautiful hardscape is coming up with a color scheme, and if you’re using cool-toned wood or stone, adding violet flowers would make the perfect accent. Similarly, you can accent warm-colored wood with bright reds and yellows.

In many cases, established trees add value to a home. Instead of cutting down the preexisting trees in your yard, make them work to your advantage by building a patio around them. Incorporate and break in the flooring around the trunk of the tree, and maybe even add lanterns or café lights to its branches to transform your leafy friend into a natural canopy.

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Water Works

Planning water into your hardscape is a sure way to add value and a luxury feel to your home. Whether it be a river, pond or pool, an established waterscape adds a unique element of beauty.

If you’re looking to build a social area around your home — for outdoor dinners, cocktail parties or a place to relax during the day — running water is a must-have. Fountains and river-ways sparkle in low light, and provide a beautiful, glistening backdrop to any get-together. Adding a pond with river lilies and koi fish incorporates nature’s beauty into your yard, and is a wonderful attraction for children and party guests alike.

If you’re looking for a place to relax, the sound of running water may be just what you need. Design the waterways around your hardscape to flow in organic, curved lines instead of harsh edges. You don’t want your river to look like a drainage ditch by accident.

If you’re sold on a more geometric feel, allow your river to drop into different square and rectangular basins in a series of waterfalls, instead of trying to make it turn in 90-degree angles for a more elegant, free-flowing look.

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Pool Time

Adding a pool is the perfect way to incorporate fun and practicality to your hardscape. The key to making a pool both an interactive object and a thing of beauty is to think outside the box. Design the layout of your pool in an interesting way, using curved lines or compartments to make your pool not only fun to swim in, but beautiful to look at.

Another must-have is underwater lighting. Do yourself and your guests a favor by adding lights at the bottom or sides of your pool. When used correctly, lighting can add to the layout of your pool and highlight certain features, creating focal points and a beautiful backdrop for your evening parties. A pool also immediately increases your property value.

Fire

One of the key elements to any outdoor summer get-together, fire is a common element that can be used in an uncommon way to add décor and elegance to your new outdoor hardscape.

Especially in the summer, fire has the practical use of keeping insects away. Consider installing tiki torches or small fire basins around your common areas to light in the warm evening weather. Installing a fire pit adds value to your home and creates a fun activity center for your family and guests. Roasting hot dogs or marshmallows is a fun addition to a barbecue, and a fire is a fun place to cuddle up to in the colder months.

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Level up

The perfect way to add intricacy and to maximize your outdoor space is to use levels. Instead of one big flat area and a set of stairs to get to another, create a series of three or four large expanses of elevated flooring to get to the top of a hill or the porch of your house. By making each level interactive — for example, a pool on the bottom and a seating area above — you can create a hardscape that’s both interesting and fun for visitors.

Again, the key to beautiful hardscaping is thinking outside the box. Make your levels flow alongside one another with organic lines, or even make each one a circle! Your options here are virtually endless, and a leveling idea can be applied to almost any landscaping project.

hardscaping