Hardscaping (I)

Creating paved areas in your garden

One effective manner of creating an attractive garden that also minimizes water consumption is to combine paved areas with planted ones whenever possible.  Paved surfaces (also known as hardscaped surfaces) provide almost maintenance-free areas that can serve various utilitarian and recreational purposes.  Paving tiles come in a wide range of shapes, colors, and textures that are suitable for different tastes, needs, and budgets.  They also are available in different materials, including pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete, stone, brick, and ceramics.

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Why use paved surfaces?

  • Paved surfaces are relatively maintenance free and consume almost no water.
  • The combination of the different colors and textures of softscaped surfaces (planted areas of the landscape) and hardscaped surfaces (paved areas of the landscape) can provide for a very powerful visual effect.
  • Hard, dry, non-slip surfaces serve various utilitarian and recreational purposes including sitting, playing, and the parking of vehicles.
  • Hardscaped surfaces may be used as part of a water harvesting system, which collects rainwater and channels it into a storage area, where it is kept for later use.
  • In Jordan, ten square meters of lawn may need 80 cubic meters of water annually. A similar paved area, however, may collect over 5 cubic meters of water during the rainy season, depending on the location of the site within the country. This means that at least 50 JD worth of water may be saved annually for every ten square meters of paving used instead of lawn.
  • Certain landscape design ideas may be emphasized effectively through hardscaping. These include suggesting direction, indicating focal points, or drawing attention to changes in level.
 The combination of the different colors and textures of softscaped and hardscaped surfaces can provide for a very powerful visual effect.

The combination of the different colors and textures of softscaped and hardscaped surfaces can provide for a very powerful visual effect.

Issues to consider when creating paved surfaces

When creating paved surfaces, carefully consider the characteristics of the paving materials you are using, such as color, texture, light reflectivity, and the accumulation of dust. For example, white paving surfaces can cause intense glare. Dark colored surfaces can absorb heat and become unbearably hot in the summer. Also, they easily show the accumulation of dust. Smooth surfaces can be slippery, especially when wet, and roughly-textured surfaces can cause injury if one falls on them.

Other issues to consider include water drainage. Make sure that your hardscaped surface is level but also has a slight slope to avoid water ponding problems. Also consider the composition of bedding that supports the paved surface. The bedding under-layers may consist of a combination of compacted soil and sand, gravel, and reinforced concrete. Complex bedding compositions may provide a sturdy substructure for your paved surface, but also will add to the costs and the amount of work required for constructing that surface.

A comparison between different paving materials in terms of availability, cost, use, and visual effects will be provided in an upcoming article of this series.

For a list of suppliers of paving materials in Jordan, see the Suppliers List in the Water Conserving Landscapes section of the CSBE web site.