Design Your New Summer Outdoor Living Space This Winter

November 29, 2017

Plan Hardscaping Projects Now So They’re Ready To Enjoy When You Are

You know the expression, “there’s no time like the present?” Every spring we receive calls for patio updates and hardscaping projects. Unfortunately, by then we’re already booked solid! Winter is the perfect time to start planning hardscaping projects you’d like to have completed before summer. We want you to enjoy your outdoor living area renovations as soon as they’re done, so let’s get to it. Let us walk you through planning steps for your hardscaping projects. Take time now to plan ahead, and the outdoor living space you’re dreaming of will be ready for you when the warm weather returns.

Think of planning a patio or hardscaping project like planning a dream getaway. There are lots of steps to take care of before you arrive at the airport. It’s the same with outdoor renovation projects. The more detailed the plan, the more success you’ll have with a springtime hardscaping project. You’ll be so happy with your new outdoor living space you just may decide to replace that summer getaway with the perfect staycation.

At Landscape East & West, we love turning your dreams into practical projects that fit your budget and landscaping needs. We ensure that all design plans are functional—you don’t want any last minute problems with drainage, for example. Our design teams look at the long-term goals, taking into consideration any potential challenges a certain project may encounter. In addition to budget and functionality, topography, style, and privacy are considerations we review.

Material durability also matters—woodworking, for instance, will require regular maintenance to preserve its condition and beauty. During our initial scheduled call with clients, we go over many details to facilitate expert project planning. Our on-staff designers are here to help you realize your outdoor landscaping dreams.

Let’s look at some common hardscaping planning questions clients ask our Portland-metro, Clackamas, and Hillsboro landscapers.

Landscape Contractor’s Top Questions for Hardscaping Projects

Q: Why plan spring hardscaping projects in the winter?

A: Because hardscaping projects require plenty of lead time. Hardscaping projects take planning and preparation. These projects can be difficult to complete quickly, especially during spring or summer when Portland area landscape contractors are busy. In addition, winter soils are looser, and therefore easier to work. This can help save the homeowner money because the contractor may not have to plan for as many hours of labor in order to complete the project, especially if it involves extensive digging.

Q: What is the importance of a long-term plan for hardscaping projects?

A: Planning is important because hardscaping projects are logistically complex. The wrong approach could result in a host of problems. For instance, our Portland and Hillsboro landscapers will tell you that drainage is a key consideration because our area gets plenty of rain in the winter and spring, and all that water has to go somewhere. Letting it run into your house or basement is simply not an option if you want to protect your property value. Yet inexperienced landscapers may misplace hardscaping and direct water the wrong way. It’s important to think about the long-term in hardscaping projects because potential problems can be extremely serious (and costly) if left unchecked.


A good long-term plan will also consider maintenance requirements. Wood patios, decks, and fences will need biennial refinishing and staining to retain their new appearance’ cast iron railings will need rust removal and fresh paint; even flagstone may require sealing now and then. Proper planning can help you to select materials with manageable maintenance needs.

Q: What does the homeowner need to figure out before starting a hardscaping project?

A: There is no bare minimum, as our project managers, and design and construction team can craft any plan from scratch in order to make sure your wants and needs are fully addressed. We take time to listen and understand your vision and dream. However, the more you envision your outdoor plan ahead of time, the more our designers will have to work with and the easier it can be for us to achieve your desired outcome.

Q: What special considerations are there for outdoor kitchens?

A: Consider utility location, protection from the wind, and privacy among other outdoor kitchen questions. You also want to consider power, gas hookups, lighting, and appliances or a sink. If you do plan to include a sink, recognize that the drain will need to be hooked up to your city utility line. Generally this is accessed through the home’s crawl space, so if you have no crawl space adding an outdoor kitchen will be more complicated.

Q: How can you achieve proper drainage for outdoor patios?

A: Our experts are experienced in this field. The first thing to consider is where the water will flow—what direction does the water run when it rains? Secondly, we evaluate the ability of the soil and landscaping to absorb water. Hardscapes may be constructed from permeable pavers that allow water to percolate through them. Additionally, drainage must be provided for walls or raised areas as well as other unique features. Problem drainage zones may be dealt with by installing French drains or collection devices. Rain gardens and water-hungry plants may also be considered.


With Landscape East & West on your side, you’ll have the outdoor space of your dreams at a price you can afford. Our Northeast Portland hardscaping client Shannon had this to say about our work on her yard: “We were impressed with Landscape East & West’s professionalism, how they put together the proposal, and how they were able to work with the design we had and make tweaks that would work better for our needs.”

Whatever you dream up, Landscape East & West can make it happen. Our landscape contractors have built covered patios, grill islands, patios, decks, built-in seating, outdoor lighting systems, fire pits, fireplaces, and entire outdoor kitchens. From updating small backyards to preparing homes for hosting events, we have decades of experience creating hardscaped spaces. The more you know about what you’re looking for, the better our landscaping can match your dreams to available materials and design choices. Start by making some notes about each of these topics:


Here are a few things you may want to think about before contacting us:

  • What do you like? Look around at friends’ yards, garden magazines, and design websites such as Pinterest or Houzz. You can research ideas and layouts that inspire you. • Which materials strike your fancy? Visiting a local stone yard can help you come up with ideas. Decking options can be eco-friendly (think classic cedar), sophisticated (think composite) or maintenance free (think PVC). Today’s hardscaping plans may also include gabions, wire structures filled with stones. Flagstone, such as bluestone or basalt, is visually striking but more expensive. It’s never to early to start gathering ideas about materials you may want to include in your project.
  • What is your budget? There are many things to consider in a budget. Material costs vary. Once you start looking at materials, you’ll have a better idea what you can afford. In general, natural stone is more expensive because it must be mined. Bricks and concrete pavers can be less expensive, depending on how complex the design or material options you choose.
  • What are your goals for the space? Getting these in line will help you prioritize features. For instance, if your main target is to create a focal point for outdoor gatherings, a fire pit or fireplace may be a good element to include. Make a list of everything that you want in your new design. One column can include “must have” features, another column can be for “nice to have” elements, and the third column can contain “luxurious but unnecessary” items. This will help you and our team hammer out the details. Keep in mind that permits and fees may be required, so be sure to ask about this when you meet with a landscape contractor.
  • What’s your timeline? Any large project takes time. A hardscaping project has several stages that must be planned and coordinated. From demolition to material reuse to maintenance down the road, there are many facets to address in hardscaping development. As such, anyone who says they can finish your hardscaping project in less than two weeks is bound to miss crucial details.

Call Landscape East & West. When serving clients, we invest time to figure out and record all the design details while involving homeowners in the entire process. This means you’ll get exactly what you want in a hardscape. The more thought and research you put into early preparation, the more our design and construction team has to work with as they run with your conceptual ideas.

We’ll work with our network of the Northwest’s top landscape designers to bring you a safe, practical, and environmentally-friendly design, and our experienced crews will build and install with the top-notch workmanship that Landscape East & West is known for.  

Call us today and let’s get your project started.