Landscaping makes your home’s exterior more attractive, but it also requires a lot of maintenance. If you feel overwhelmed by the upkeep, you may be focusing too much attention on softscape and not enough on hardscape ideas.

Lush backyard with stone path and retaining wall filled with plants and bushes

The Elements of Landscaping

Front-yard landscaping adds curb appeal that makes a great first impression and adds resale value. Backyard landscaping makes a home feel functional and luxurious.

If you design your landscape with the care and time it deserves, it will be attractive and low-maintenance. That means you’ll need to bring both softscape and hardscape ideas to the drawing board! But first, here’s a quick vocabulary lesson. 

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines hardscape as “structures (such as fountains, benches or gazebos) that are incorporated into a landscape.” Softscape, on the other hand, is “vegetation (such as shrubs and flowers) that is incorporated into a landscape.”

If you have too much hardscape, the exterior will be easier to maintain, but it will look cold, lifeless and uninviting. If you have too much softscape, it could be beautiful at first, but a pain to keep up.

The goal is to balance softscape and hardscape; you’ll want enough hardscape to make the backyard functional, with seating, recreation and other amenities, but also have some softscape to soften the appearance.

And when you find that magical combination, you’ll have a backyard paradise!

Here are some ideas to improve your hardscape game plan.

    Hardscape Ideas to Make Your Backyard Beautiful

    Making concrete pathway with Quikrete WalkMaker

    1. Create a Concrete Path

    You put a lot of time, effort and energy into your lawn. And let’s face it, manicuring the grass so it looks its best also takes a good bit of money.

    So, the last thing you want people to do is walk on your lawn, especially when you can create designated paths to limit the abuse it takes.

    Creating a stepping-stone path with QUIKRETE Walkmaker couldn’t be easier. Just pour Quikrete Fast-Setting Concrete Mix into a plastic form, add water, remove the form and move onto the next stepping stone.

    With a process this easy, and four stylish patterns that look great in a variety of backyards, you can dream up all kinds of ideas to enhance your hardscape.

    Watch ‘Create a Stepping Stone Path Using Concrete Forms’ for more information.

    Paver retaining wall with plants and mulch growing at the top

    2. Build a Retaining Wall

    Your landscape design should feature hardscape and softscape ideas that add depth, dimension, character and interest. One easy way to enhance vertical space is to build a retaining wall that holds soil.

    Raised garden beds usually are elevated at least 6 to 12 inches high, and they’re attractive but also functional. They protect vegetation from foot traffic, preventing soil compaction, and a well-mulched raised garden bed has fewer weeds than its in-ground counterpart.

    Drainage is excellent, because raised garden beds don’t use soil that’s underneath the box. This makes it possible to grow plants that otherwise wouldn’t survive in-ground.

    You can easily build a retaining wall with stackable concrete blocks. Read “How to Build a Concrete Retaining Wall” for more information.

    Pavestone patio with picnic table and patio umbrella

    3. Make Columns for Café Lights

    Your backyard may look good during the day, but what about night? If you’ve got an uncovered patio and harsh task lighting, you’ll need something more inviting for evening gatherings.

    Café lights are perfect, but you’ll need to string them overhead, and that requires the next item on our list of hardscape ideas: a four-column support system with metal pipes.

    Each column consists of large Pavestone RumbleStone blocks, which form the base; thinner pavers toward the top; and a decorative cap to hide the work. The paver arrangement has a void at the center where you can slide in the metal pipe and pour in concrete mix, and you’ll secure each row to the next with construction adhesive.

    When you slide the metal pipe through the void, lift up the top paver and pour Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix into the void. (Fast-setting concrete requires no mixing — just dump it in and add water!) Then, lower the top paver and secure it to the rest of the column.

    Then you just have to drape café lights around two elbow pipe fittings at the tops of the pipes, or you can use S-hooks and install as directed. And that’s all it takes to create ambiance! 

    Watch: ‘How to Create Paver Columns for Outdoor Light’ for the full how-to guide.

    Newly installed wooden fence in a luxurious backyard

    4. Install a Fence

    Nothing creates a sense of luxury like living on an island. While you may not have waterfront property, you can easily create the atmosphere of seclusion with a privacy fence.

    Fences come in all kinds of styles and materials, so it’s important to consider not just what looks nice, but also what will match your home’s architecture.

    In addition, consider the desired height of the fence, and how much privacy you want. For instance, picket fences look great but have big gaps and offer little to no privacy. Other fences are impossible to peer through, whether you choose brick, wood or vinyl.

    You’ll also want to consider your budget. Building a fence from scratch costs much less than purchasing panels from the home center or a fence supply warehouse.

    And if you do go the DIY route, consider your property’s topography. Building a fence on a slope is much different from building a fence on level ground.

    Either way, creating your little ‘island’ will add luxury and privacy, so add this to your list of hardscape ideas!

    Watch ‘Wooden Fence Building Tips’ and read ‘Privacy Fence Ideas’ for more information.

    Brick home with a paver patio featuring a Pavestone RumbleStone fire pit, Adirondack chairs and an outdoor dining set with an umbrella

    5. Build a Fire Pit

    Nothing enhances your backyard like a fire pit and some chairs. Fire pits are one of many backyard patio concepts for outdoor spaces. Creating a fire pit as a focal point dates back to the Paleolithic era, when early humans hunted, gathered and used sticks and flint to make primitive fires.

    This pastime has been handed down from generation to generation, so it’s no surprise why sitting around a fire is comforting, whether it’s a cool summer’s night or a chilly winter’s eve.

    The setup is ideal for entertaining guests with fireside drinks and roasted marshmallows, or everyday living. So, definitely add it to your short list of hardscape ideas.  

    Best of all, paver fire pit kits take all the guesswork out of the process and are available in a range of prices to fit any budget. You can get the job done with just a few hours to a spare and some teamwork, and the result will be priceless — and timeless!

    Watch: ‘How to Build a Backyard Fire Pit with Pavers’ for more information.

    Do you have hardscape ideas that aren’t on this list? Share them in the comments!

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Danny Lipford

    Danny Lipford


    Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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