The hard truth about hardscapes

Hardscapes create the bone structure of a garden. Trends in construction of hardscapes reflect a changing lifestyle with more time spent outdoors.

The top trends in hardscape involve the creation of outdoor living spaces with environmentally friendly landscapes.

The outdoors is an extension of the indoor living space, said Luke Haymond, owner of Reno-based Haymond Horticulture. “People definitely are wanting more outdoor living space, including in their landscape.”

Pergolas, which provide light shade and a gathering space, have grown in popularity.

“Pergolas create that intimate area and, with a table underneath, brings people together,” he said.

Dave Palylyk, owner of Reno Hardscapes, said he also sees an increase in demand for outdoor spaces, especially areas to gather around fires.

“We have more (fire) pits going in, for sure,” said Palylyk whose company focuses on hardscape installations using pavers and concrete.

Nationally, landscape professionals are seeing similar trends toward outdoor living spaces.

The American Society of Landscape Architects, which represents more than 15,000 professional landscape architects nationwide, surveyed members about outdoor design elements they expect to be popular in 2015. Topping the list of hardscape elements were fire pits/fireplaces, lighting, grills, pergolas, decks and fencing. The survey was reported by Hardscape Today.

The other trend in landscape design — sustainability — is reflected in hardscape design with an increase in the use of pavers over concrete.

“People are moving away from concrete and using interlocking pavers,” Palylyk said.

The ASLA survey reported that 77 percent of professionals expect an increased demand for permeable paving, such as pavers, that allows water runoff to filter back into the ground. In contrast, concrete slabs force water to runoff carrying garden pollutants into gutters and streams.

Pavers can be a significant investment, Palylyk said, costing $2 to $3 more per square foot than concrete. An improving economy is helping many homeowners commit to that investment.

Pavers are also better suited to the northern Nevada climate, Haymond said.

“Northern Nevada has huge temperature fluctuations — freezes and thaws,” he said. “Concrete, if it moves, it breaks. Pavers are meant to move.”

Pavers are also used for walls — both retaining walls, and low freestanding walls that divide outdoor rooms and serve as seating. Style options range from rustic to modern.

“It’s almost endless what you can do,” Haymond said.

For homeowners on tight budgets, concrete is still an economic option for hardscapes.

As the economy improves, Palylyk is seeing more customers turning to decorative overlays to repair and spruce up their properties. The variations of color and stamps offer many creative design options to cover up cracked, stained and broken concrete slabs.

As people move more of their activities outdoors, lighting is needed.

Haymond said that, in the last two years, substantially more customers request outdoor lighting.

“Lighting changes everything,” he said. “The entire landscape looks different.”

Increasingly, it’s a landscape where homeowners spend a lot more time, doing a lot more varied activities.


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