A “hardscape” in the landscaping world is considered a paved walkway, street, building, fence or objects such as garden sheds, air conditioning units, etc. Basically, it is any inanimate and generally permanent structure. When plants are in full glory, these structures appear less stark by contrasting lush foliage surrounding them. However, when leaves fall, winter landscapes can appear bare, making walkways and curb appeal less inviting.
Luckily there are some easy rules to soften the look of concrete, brick and other static materials.
If you haven’t already built your hardscapes, using curved rather than straight lines and corners on the hardscapes themselves will soften the appearance of a patio or walkway. If that is not possible, using gentle arcs when carving out borders and beds that go along the straight lines of a hardscape creates a naturalistic feel that generally flows better and looks great even when plants aren’t leafed out.
Example of what to do using a border with curved edges.* If you have a straight walkway you would like to soften, try planting small or medium sized evergreens, like Boxwood in clusters of 3’s or 5’s, leaving space in between groupings. Planting them in a long linear row only mimics the lines of the walkway. The groupings will pull the eye away from the hard-lines and will afford you space to plant some beautiful contrasting plants during the growing season!
What about softening hardscapes with hardscapes? Why not!
It’s all about thinking outside the box – literally. Grouped together, decorative round pots of different sizes and rounded trellises are an easy way to add winter interest and whimsy. Decorate with evergreen boughs and lights during the holidays and plant them with beautiful blooming selections during the growing season.
Leaving ornamental grasses stand through winter also covers unsightly structures and gives snow a beautiful perch in which to glisten in the sun!
Creativity is the name of the game when it comes to landscaping and discovering what works for you. Explore all your options, like using alternative plants to evergreens, and have fun!
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