Fences and Gates
These are “landscape walls” used to separate and protect outside spaces from neighboring properties. They are also used to divide an existing lot into distinct areas. Materials of almost any type can serve as fencing. The most common is to use redwood or cedar planks with preservative treated posts to create a solid board wall.
Gates are lockable passageways through a fence.
There are many kinds of fences including solid fences, picket fences, chain link fences, and wrought iron fences.
Wood posts have a life of about 10-12 years. Replacing rotted posts when they occur can greatly extend fence life.
- 1x per year: Inspect for broken or loose fence posts and fence boards, and make repairs as needed.
- 1x per year: Check gates for operation and make repairs as needed.
Retaining and other walls
Walls are more durable, solid and permanent than fences. Stacked stone, block, brick or stucco make great hardscape walls.
To hold back soil or create terraces on the site you can utilize retaining walls. Retaining walls over 36″ require an engineers design because tall walls must resist much more pressure.
Unique wall designs can be made with concrete, masonry, stone, steel or combinations.
Flat exterior walkways or paths are used to connect and provide access to key areas of the landscape. Walks should be designed with their intended purpose in mind. For instance, entry walks should be durable to hold up to heavy use and should be clean and flat to avoid trip hazards and prevent tracking dirt into the home.
Hardscape walks can be made with almost any tough, reasonably flat materials. The material used should be nice looking, prevent erosion and provide a clear, safe walkway avoiding mud and obstacles. See: concrete
Walks made from pavers, stone or concrete are vulnerable to stains. Fertilizers containing iron for instance will stain the surface with marks that look like rust.
Garden walks should be made so that water cannot flood or undermine them. Construct walkways with mud resistant surface materials as much as possible. Some materials will allow plantings to grow through the surface of the walk. The function of a walkway is to connect the house with somewhere else. Usually walks lead to the street, or to the landscape and garden. The flow of the walk should allow you to experience the things in your garden you enjoy the most. A sidewalk doesn’t need to be fancy. An informal walk can simply be a path worn in the ground
Dimensions and specifications
The minimum width of a walkway is determined by the available space mixed with some common sense. The average human shoulder width is 18 inches. Allowing an extra six inches, the walk should be a minimum of 24 inches wide for one person and 5’ wide for two people walking side by side.
Construct stone walkways with larger dimensioned materials. Walks with small flagstones for instance can become a trip hazard when loose. Good walk materials include decomposed granite, bricks, cobblestones, gravel, sand, or pavers. Walkways b be free of overhanging shrubbery making it safe and easy to move along without getting whacked.
A great walk will provide areas for rest, and perhaps a bench for sitting and contemplating the universe.
These are larger flat entertaining areas that are made out of concrete or various types of stone or pavers. Patios tend to be built on the ground level. Decks on the other hand, are usually elevated off the ground or are extensions to upper rooms. , Like walks, patio material should be selected to endure the intended use. See: concrete
Patio entertaining areas can become integral extensions of your homes square footage. By throwing open large sliding doors to hardscape patio areas off of bedrooms, kitchens or living rooms, those rooms can effectively swell in size. This helps bring in the outdoors when the weather is fine.
Architects have lately been designing stainless steel into some of the more contemporary hardscape architecture. Stainless steel, especially when used for outdoors applications needs to be of a grade capable of withstanding the elements. These can vary depending on the local environment so selecting the grade is important. Outdoor applications in a humid or marine environment should be passivated or “pickled” .
Patios can be equipped with eating areas, built-in kitchens, including sinks, BBQ, refers and cooktops. Fireplaces or fire pits and entertainment centers including special weatherproof televisions can also be installed. See: “Outdoor Kitchen Mistakes to Avoid”
If the sun is too intense, trellises with retractable shade elements or giant folding umbrellas are available to help your patio stay cool. If the evening is chilly, patio heaters are available to take the edge off. At night landscape and accent lighting can intensify the beauty of the area and bring in a romantic atmosphere. Hardscape water features, fountains, ponds, pools and spas can also add to the experience and essentially turn the entire lot into part of the equation.
Kitchen-side patios with herb garden planters are my favorite kind of hardscape. Even the SF Giants have installed one of these organic garden areas to the outfield patio of one of the stadium restaurants.
These are wood, or metal exterior structures used to create support for vines or shade over walks and patios. If you have nice wooden trellises in your hardscape, you should expect them to last for a reasonable length of time. Adding simple metal flashing to the tops of trellis members to protect them, will more than double the expected life.
- Every 2 years: Trellises require regular maintenance. Apply a protective coating to the structure or tough up the existing coatings at least every other year to help shed water and protect the wood.
- 2x per year: Also trim any vegetation or climbing vines so that tendrils cannot find their way into joints and destroy the structure.
- 1x per 2 years: Metal versions also require repainting when needed to prevent rust.