As you consider deck and patio design ideas, keep in mind that you can add tremendous appeal and value to your outdoor living space with hardscaping. And many new hardscape design ideas can help inspire you to create the space you've always dreamed of.
The first thing to focus on as you plan your hardscape is another "scape" entirely: the landscape. Consider the entire area available for your design, and then try to imagine any additions you might want over time: a patio, a pool, a fire pit, etc. Map out the area in your mind, on paper and digitally if possible—or have a pro do it for you.
Secondly, give water a place to go—someplace besides your basement or crawlspace. In other words, make sure your hardscape design grades away from your home so that water will drain naturally and won't pool in corners or the middle of the design. For extra credit, have water drain into a catch so that you can use it later for watering your landscaping plants.
Next up, identify a focal point. You want your design to feel like it has a purpose, whether it's a dining area, a fire pit or a sitting area with flat-screen TV.
Curves are your friend when designing your hardscape. Remember, this is an outdoor living space, and Mother Nature doesn't build in straight lines. You shouldn't either.
And speaking of nature, keep the greenery if you can. Complement the hardscape design by populating it with plants or shrubs along edges, so that it feels like a part of the environment.
Lastly, if your hardscape design is complex—and especially if it involves reforming the existing landscape (creating a retaining wall for a hill, for example)—you should call in the experts. They'll work with your design ideas but ensure that all the building is done safely and in compliance with applicable codes.
Learn about deck design ideas and check out some great pictures for inspiration.
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