Hardscaping includes all the non-organic design elements in your garden—that means retaining walls, paved walkways, decks, fences, pergolas, gazebos and even sculptures.
DIY vs. hire a pro
Simple cosmetic projects like stone patios and firepits can be handled on your own if you’re feeling handy, but defer to professionals when it comes to big projects that could affect slope or drainage. Contractors who specialize in hardscaping will help you achieve your vision for the space and do the work properly. Whatever the task, make sure to check with your municipality to see if you need a permit and to ensure that you’re complying with local bylaws.
Plan, plan, plan!
Any feature you add needs to flow with the rest of your garden. Avoid adding one element at a time; instead plan out the space before breaking ground. And don’t underestimate the importance of a proper base for any project. Your work will go to waste if a poorly laid base causes your hardscaping to shift or sink.
DIY basic patio project
Want to take on a hardscaping project in your own backyard? Follow these eight easy steps to create a simple stone patio.
1. Mark out your patio area using pegs and a rope.
2. Dig a 15-centimetre patio base and make sure you have a slight slope (approximately 0.6 centimetres per square foot) to prevent flooding.
3. Tamp down the soil until it’s flat.
4. Lay down landscaping fabric, which will help with drainage and prevent weeds from growing between the stones.
5. Fill in the base with 5 centimetres of gravel and tamp it down. Repeat with another 5 centimetres of gravel and tamp down again.
6. Top the compacted gravel with a 5-centimetre layer of sand as screed. Level the sand and tamp down again.
7. Carefully lay your patio stones.
8. Fill the seams with polymeric sand. The sand acts like grout when wet and stabilizes the stones. It also inhibits weed growth and is water resistant.
Scott McGillivray is the host of HGTV’s Income Property.