When most people think of landscaping, especially in the Garden State, they think of shrubs, trees, meticulously laid-out and maintained flowerbeds, and artful plantings scattered around a building or development. However, landscaping doesn’t need to end with the things that grow.
“Hardscaping is any part of the landscape that’s not living,” says Jim Schimmenti, owner/operator of The Grounds Guys, which has locations in Freehold and in Southeast New Jersey. “So it’s the driveway, masonry, fencing, pergolas, patios, boulders and statues.”
Other hardscaping elements that can be used on the property may include stone retaining walls, concrete patios, brick and flagstone patios, stone walkways, gravel paths, stone landscape steps, wrought-iron fences, wooden fences and decks. Hardscaping may also help correct potential topographical problems with the property. For example, a fence or stone wall can function as a windbreak. Pavers can be installed where there is grass to create an amazing footpath. Other hardscape features, such as a fountain or a patio may be more for beauty, or to provide residents with a usable common area. An outdoor oasis can also be created around the community pool with walking paths, fountains, statues, rock gardens, terraces and wall elements.
“There are also more housing communities being built where there isn’t as much green space, but they need communal areas, and hardscaping is good for that,” says Schimmenti.
Hardscaping can cut down on maintenance costs and act as a substitute for traditional plant-based landscaping, such as a rock garden instead of a traditional one, but landscapers tend to see hardscaping and plant-life as complementary pieces to the whole design. “They kind of work together, we like to integrate both. So we’ll have maybe a hardscape some type of little segmented retaining wall that would be a sitting wall inside the garden, and maybe some plant material behind it. They serve different purposes, plants versus concrete material,” says Kevin Dulio, president of Native Fields Landscaping, LLC in Landing.