5 Hardscaping Trends
Explore 5 beautiful ways to upgrade and enjoy your property.
The real estate market is slowly coming back from a long slump, and companies that specialize in landscaping and hardscaping are starting to see a rise in home improvement projects. Part of this is due to low refinancing rates and the desire of homeowners to upgrade their property so they can get more enjoyment out of it.
Joe Fields, Director of Contractor Services for EP Henry, a family-owned hardscaping company in Woodbury, New Jersey, reveals some trends in hardscape design.
Outdoor Living Rooms
Open patios or decks where homeowners can enjoy cookouts and casual entertaining have been popular for years. But the trend today is to create a covered outdoor room that you can enjoy all year. This could include everything from an entertainment center with a built-in LED widescreen TV to a recreational room (pool table, ping pong) with a full bar or beer taps.
Mark Biechler, lead designer with Pearson Landscape Services in Austin, Texas, says for some of his clients he is “literally building a small house in the backyard. They want dishwashers and ice makers and outdoor bathrooms that are tied directly into the sewer lines. They have pitched roofs and 30-year shingles. It’s bigger than what they have inside.” These structures also provide an outdoor/indoor area and safe environment where children can hang out with their friends.
Additions to the home that offer dual usage are on the rise. One example is EP Henry’s Solitaire Kit, which allows customers to convert outdoor fire pits into aquatic gardens or fish ponds during the summer months and then change them back for use as heating and ambiance in the fall and early spring.
Gas grills have been the standard for cookouts for years, but why settle for that when you can have a full outdoor kitchen complete with a gas grill, fire pit, or fireplace for entertaining year round?
Natural-Looking Stone Products
Concrete blocks are a good, dependable building material, but they don’t offer much in the way of aesthetic appeal. This is why many homeowners are gravitating toward using manufactured stone products that have the appearance, color and texture of natural stone. Cast Veneer Stone is a popular favorite for outdoor kitchens, grills and fireplaces. Bristol Stone is ideal for patios and pool surfaces because it does not heat up like natural stone and retains a soft texture that is comfortable for bare feet. Devonstone has the look of bluestone, slate and limestone; it makes attractive flagging, stairs and walkways.
Of course, some homeowners prefer the real thing and Biechler states that in the Austin area there is so much limestone available that “we just pull it out of the ground here versus manufacturing something.”
Water conservation is a major concern across the country today and there are a number of eco-friendly products that help manage this. One of the most effective is Eco Pavers, which help the environment by allowing rainwater to recharge the ground and reduce the amount of storm water runoff into driveways and streets.
Biechler says rain collection systems are becoming more popular in the southwest. Some homeowners are channeling their stormwater runoff from hardscape surfaces or roof gutters into underground collection tanks, which are tied into bigger irrigation systems.
In addition to the hardscaping concepts listed above, there are many other options that can bring additional value and enjoyment to the homeowner. Among these are sculpture gardens, coventry borders, seatwalls, new swimming pool decks, and resurfaced driveways.