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What to Expect Series: Session 7: Hardscape Design

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

You’ve heard of landscape design, but did you know that hardscape design is something that an interior designer can help you with? Unlike the softscape portion of landscape design, which involves plants, trees, shrubs etc., hardscape design focuses on the “hard” materials that will last for many years such as stone, brick, facades, brickwork, walkways, house numbers, etc. Below is some information you may want to consider if you are planning an exterior renovation.


You’ve heard us say it before and we will say it again (and again, and again…) but planning ahead is crucial in renovations – including exterior ones. Some of your hardscape choices may affect entry points to your home so it is important to plan these things early on in your project to avoid costly changes or disappointment.

If you consider your main entry points into the house and how you will access them from outside, you will have a good starting point on your hardscape plans.


Consider how your hardscape finishes will tie in with the finishes on the exterior and interior. Do you want a cohesive style between outdoor and indoors?  Will you incorporate wood, concrete, stucco, slate, brick, etc. in your design plans? If you are interested in adding in a tall structure such as a pergola, you will want to consider how will it affect sight lines from inside and outside the house.


It is important that you hire professionals and do your research when it comes to the ground preparation and the structural aspects of your hardscape plan. What structural support will your front steps require? Will you build a raised deck with pilings? How about a retaining wall?  Other things to consider are drainage and grading, as both of these can affect your home’s ability to stay dry!


Lighting can make a significant difference in your curb appeal. Locating and spacing lighting correctly can help enhance other features of your hardscape or landscape. It can also light a path to the front door, provide security and ambiance, and highlight your address for visitors. There are so many options out there for exterior lighting from modern to traditional, with motion sensors and photocells and internal timers.


Here are some other things to consider when planning your hardscape details:

Where will the house numbers go? Will you attach them to the house or will they be incorporated into the landscaping? Will they be modern numbers or more traditional?Will you light them up or not?

What kind of material do you want to use on your walkway up the house?

You can use many different materials for this and it really comes down to personal preference. Consider the climate you live in as well and how it will fair through winters (shoveling) and freeze/thaw cycles.

Will you want to install gas lines to a firepit and/or BBQ? If so, where is the best location for this and what kind of location is allowed?

Where do you want to put your storage shed? Do you want it to be visible from the house?

Ultimately you need to think of flow through the space and the functions you wish to incorporate. How you use your exterior space will be different from your neighbors and it is based on your personal preferences, location, and the site. It can be helpful to get a site plan drawn up along with other plans to get an idea of the big picture. 

Once the hardscape plan is completed you can work with a landscape artist for the softscape plan and start planting away!


Next week we are discussing the rough in stage of renovations. We discuss what to expect during an electrical walk-through and how to decide on plumbing locations that make sense!


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