Build a hardscape using brick, concrete and stone

Build a hardscape using brick, concrete and stone

From walkways and steps to retaining walls, the materials available for hardscaping can be broken down into three categories: brick, concrete and stone. “Hardscaping can be one of the most expensive components of your landscape,” says Dean Hill, member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), president and lead designer of terratecture and co-host of DIY Network’s Grounds for Improvement. “A landscape architect or landscape designer will look at your site and conditions to provide you with a design that will incorporate all of your needs and wants. It will cost you more money up front, but by having a plan, you will save money in the long run by reducing mistakes.”

Brick Pavers

Paving bricks are a popular material choice for walkways and steps. “Consider utilizing two or three color combinations to accentuate landscaping and provide the perfect complement to the overall face of the home,” says Mark Longoria, paving brick specialist for Boral Bricks Inc. He adds, “It’s important to design the look of your paving landscape projects in advance. This will allow you to create and outline unique patterns and color combinations.”


Commonly found in walkways to front doors, concrete is very versatile in appearance. To dress up the look of concrete, Hill recommends that you “think color! Concrete can very easily be colored or stained. Stay away from painted concrete that will flake and need to be repainted.”

To cut down on the production of new landscaping materials, Eric Stromer, host of HGTV’s Over Your Head and AOL’s DIY with Eric Stromer, suggests that you consider recycling old pieces of your demolished concrete slab and use them as stepping stones or patios. “Although this look plays into a more modern architectural style, it can be taken in many directions with a little creativity,” he adds.

Natural Stone

Natural stone is beginning to find its place in more residential projects. “Natural stone is the perfect material to establish a hierarchy in your pedestrian circulation,” says Travis G. Brooks, member of the ASLA and owner of Brooks Landscaping Architecture. “The stones allow for varying path width, and very informal connections can be used as individual stepping stones separated by mulch or lawn.”

expert tip

Consider drainage issues! Homeowners often immediately go for the beauty of design elements and don’t consider the impact that inappropriate drainage can have on their property if the water has no place to go.
—Eric Stromer, host of HGTV’s Over Your Head and AOL’s DIY with Eric Stromer

go green: retaining walls

A green alternative for retaining walls is Millenia Wall Solutions’ recycled resin. The material decreases the environmental impact of a retaining wall by 55 percent (including a 65-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when used instead of concrete blocks). Learn more at

retaining knowledge

Sloped landscapes are often in need of a retaining wall to avoid erosion and drainage problems and provide support for near-vertical grade changes. “Retaining walls must be engineered if you have compaction, erosion, drainage or structural issues to deal with,” Stromer says. “Make sure you have a qualified general contractor on board when getting involved with retaining walls.”

go green: paver options

➤    Permeable pavers provide a solid ground surface while also allowing water to filter through the surface and reach the underlying soils.
➤    Clay paving bricks are another eco-friendly option for walkways, as clay is a natural, abundant material.

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