Mixing Hardscapes with Other Materials

Here are a few design ideas to inspire you and your clients as you create their dream outdoor living space.

Fire pits are a hot-ticket item for homeowners look to spruce up their outdoor space.
Fire pits are a hot-ticket item for homeowners look to spruce up their outdoor space.

Outdoor design is influenced by trends as much as interior design. Styles change each season and each year and even are changing among demographics. For example, the previous divide among millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers around color palettes—the former preferring cool tones, with the latter generations centered on earth tones—is shifting toward an overall preference of greige tones and transitional styles.

Traditional design standards have remained strong despite shifting consumer tastes—think squares, rectangles and borders separating hardscape materials from the surrounding landscape. However, that is evolving, thanks to a renewed focus on the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors. Mixing materials to blend hardscapes with landscaping, as well as other outdoor elements, is more popular than ever and creates a stunning outdoor living space.

Let's take a look at a few design ideas to inspire you and your clients as you create their dream outdoor living space. 

1. Create intricate fire pit areas

Fire pits remain one of the most popular features homeowners want to add to their backyard. There are a variety of hardscapes landscapers can use to construct the fire pit, as well as additional elements to give the design a more organic flair. 

Using natural stone boulders within hardscapes gives a fire pit an organic look and feel. Pairing it with various earth-toned pavers around the patio or a retaining wall, especially those with rough-looking edges, enhances the effect.

Contractors also can create more modern designs with mixed materials. Pairing pavers that emulate the look and texture of nature stone with smooth surface pavers that offer clean lines, especially in varying color palettes, gives a beautiful level of contrast. An inlaid walkway and raised platform for the fire pit also provide more visual interest.

2. Integrate hardscapes, decking and other elements

Decks are also a popular feature clients are looking to add or renovate when outdoor living season rolls around. Composite decking is a great choice given its durability and aesthetic. The wood look of composite decking products is the perfect complement to earth-toned pavers that also have a natural look and feel. Add in décor like wooden Adirondack chairs, as well as planters with blooms and greenery, to give the client the ultimate backyard escape.

3. Cozy, contemporary patios

Create the ultimate patio with a mix of hardscapes, wood and pops of color and patterns. Large format porcelain pavers offer a clean, ultramodern base and come in a variety of color choices so that contractors and their clients can decide on the right palette. Incorporating wood elements, such as an accent wall, add an organic touch. To tie it all together, add in pops of color through accessories, planters and florals that come in various shapes and sizes. 

4. Add in nature's influence

Biophilic or entangled design integrates natural elements into hardscape to forge a stronger connection. Using turf, stone and contrasting textures, such as smooth porcelain intertwined with gravel and turf or grass, is the perfect way to showcase nature’s influence in a built environment. 

5. Maximize materials

These are just a few initial ideas for using mixed materials in your designs. As landscape pros make plans with your clients, they should take a look at what natural elements they have in their yard that may add color and texture. Think through material selections to determine how to add visual interest with new shapes and patterns. Take a little inspiration from everything in nature to create the perfect outdoor retreat that’s right on trend