Landscape & Hardscape Ideas

From dreaming it to living it: The Hardscape decision process, step-by-step

Want to transform your outdoor space but don’t know where to start? Here is a step-by-step guide for bringing your dreams into a reality.

All decisions you make goes through steps. Some decisions are instant. They feel as though they went through no process at all. Other decisions (where the stakes are usually higher) require a more detailed approach. Home improvement projects can be overwhelming, as they are full of decisions. Following a decision-making process helps. Keep this list handy when detailing your plans so you can be sure that you’ve considered the necessary steps.

Step One

Budget and Ideas: Decide what kind of Hardscape you would like. Patio? Pool deck? Outdoor kitchen? If you want all three but cannot swing the expense, decide which is the priority and put off the other projects for now. Financing details come later (Step 4). This is a general ballpark stage. Having a number in mind will help you define your project. Make a vision board with pictures and collect info on types of surfaces and structures. Go online, order catalogs and look through web galleries. Look at a wide range of Hardscapes and make notes about what you find appealing. Be sure to share your overall vision with your contractor in Step Three.

Step Two

Samples: Go to a distributor and see the hardscape material options in person. Ask questions. Take home samples and look at them in the space where they will be laid. Look at them at all times of day (morning, noon, night). Choose some you like, then investigate them further. e.g., Which ones can retain their color after days and months of direct sunlight? Which ones are porous and which materials are not?

Step Three

Contractors: Get references and meet with the contractors. You’ll want to make sure the contractor is insured for both the work and the workers (Workman’s Comp). You’ll want to feel confident in this decision as it will likely be a months-long relationship. Ask to speak to their past customers about working with the contractor. Ask to visit completed projects if you feel like you’ll be moving forward.



Step Four

Contracts: Get financing and sign the papers. There are a few options for financing a Hardscape project. Find the one that works for you. Once the financing is in place, the project can go forward. The contractor will set a date and make a schedule with you. Depending on the time of year and the scope of the project, it could be 1 to 6 months before you break ground. Good contractors are often booked far in advance. They need the lead time to get permits and order supplies, etc.

Step Five

Delays: Don’t overlook the possibilities of delays. Delays can be frustrating but can’t always be avoided. Permits get held up in county offices. Your area could experience long stretches of bad weather. A good contractor will keep you in the loop. Don’t stay silent if you think something is going wrong. Talk about the adjusted timeline with your contractor so you can adapt to the new plan.

Enjoy your new lifestyle!

When the project is complete, expect every emotion to bubble up. Take a breath. It can sometimes be overwhelming to see a big idea finally come to fruition. Personalizing your space will make it feel like home. Enjoy your new Hardscape with friends and family, and relish those peaceful times when it is just you and the night sky.


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