For the love of color and texture – hardscapes that wow!

December 02, 2020

Want to know the secret ingredient to beautiful exteriors and yards that take your breath away? Surprise, it’s not always the plants and flowers! Sure, interesting foliage, seasonal blooms, and well-manicured trees and shrubs can be scene-stealers, but what really sets some yards apart are the other details—the hardscape that makes everything else in the landscape pop.

The hardscape is literally all the non-living hard stuff in your yard from concrete, pavers, and stone to wood, metal, composite materials, and more. The softscape, as you would expect, is all the living, growing stuff like trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses, and succulents. A well-designed landscape balances the two. 

With the wide variety of materials available today, it is not uncommon to come across yards where the hardscape is the real show stopper, especially during winter months when much of the softscape lies dormant. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the winter months can be a long gray season with many a yard full of green, but otherwise devoid of color. This is one reason why we encourage homeowners to think about color and texture in the materials they choose for their pathways, retaining walls, decks, patios, pergolas, fencing, and any other hard surface. That, and the fact that your hardscape should complement your plantings to their best advantage during all seasons.

Deciding what materials to use is just as important as deciding what hardscape elements you want in your landscape. The materials should match both the function and style that suits you. To spark your imagination and get the ideas for your own yard flowing, here is a round-up of materials to consider and some of our favorite hardscapes we have installed.

Loose Stone

From pebbles, small rocks, and gravel to decomposed or crushed granite, loose stone offers a wide range of options ideal for borders, walkways, courtyards, and even patios. The color options abound as well ranging from white to black, reds to browns, grays to greens, and even turquoise.


Available in a multitude of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures, pavers provide flexibility in design aesthetic. Whether you want an intricate pattern of interlocking pavers of varying size and color, or a more uniform shape and palette, a wide range of choices is available for walkways, patios, and driveways.

Natural Stone

Natural stone slabs like flagstone, slate, and granite are another versatile consideration for walkways and patios and come in many different colors and textures that can fit a wide range of styles. Stone slabs can also be used to cap retaining walls and can provide a good seating alternative.


Concrete is an incredibly versatile material for walls, walkways, courtyards, patios, driveways, and more—basically any hardscape. Concrete can also be stained or stamped with various patterns and textures, and can even replicate the look of natural stone.


Wood is typically the first to come to mind when thinking about materials for decks, fences, pergolas, arbors, and other structures. The natural beauty is hard to beat and the different varieties coupled with a wide range of wood stains and paint allow for lots of room to play with color.

Composite Lumber

Another popular decking material is composite lumber, a wood alternative, also known as synthetic decking or wood-polymer composite. It is literally a composite of plastic and wood fiber and comes in a range of colors. 


From large structural supports to decorative elements, metal often serves double duty in terms of function and style. From modern industrial to rustic farmhouse and everything in between, metal in all of its many forms and finishes—galvanized, powder-coated, corrugated—offers a wide range of options that work well with stone or wood.


Large rocks and boulders can add an interesting dynamic to the landscape as stand-alone focal points in gardens, courtyards, or patios, along borders, or in retaining walls. Boulders can also be strategically placed to stabilize soil in hillsides or steeply sloped yards.

With such a versatile range of hardscape materials in so many colors and textures, you can really let your imagination run away when dreaming about how to add color and texture to your own yard. In fact, we encourage this. Think about mixing different elements together, playing opposite textures off each other, and how you can work different materials into your overall design. The possibilities are nearly limitless!

And if you need help pulling it all together, we can lend a hand. Our landscape designers are also hardscape pros with years of experience mixing and matching texture and color with style and function. Contact Landscape East & West