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When you think of landscape design, it is easy to focus on the big things like an outdoor kitchen or a swimming pool, but the softscape can make or break the appearance of the landscape. Don’t forget that softscapes are an essential part of your Hinsdale, IL, design when thinking about making changes to your backyard.
What Are Softscapes?
The softscape is all of the living parts of your yard such as trees, shrubs, plants, flowers, grass, mulch, and more. You want to have a mixture of textures, colors, and heights in the plants and other materials used in these parts of your landscape.
In contrast, the hardscape entails all of the non-living parts of the landscape such as patios, retaining walls, and outdoor kitchens. While the materials used for these features are beautiful in their own right, their purpose is largely functional for achieving the types activities that you enjoy. Softscapes add to the beauty effect and bring in more nature to offset the more manufactured areas of your backyard. Both are necessary for a well-designed and balanced landscape.
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Considerations for Softscapes
Once new hardscape features have been built or installed, that is the time for the new softscape elements to be planted. It is not uncommon for a focal tree or flowering bushes with a wonderful aroma to steal the show. A showy flower bed or symmetrical row of shrubs in a particular shade of green causes the eye to travel around the entire landscape.
Unlike hardscape elements, softscape features change with the seasons, from the pansies of late fall and winter, to the petunias and flowering bulbs of spring and summer. You want to ensure a variety of green colors in the plants and trees, along with the colors of the blossoms.
Think about how gorgeous ivy can be climbing over a retaining wall or clematis with its yellow flowers looks trailing over the top of a pergola. The softscape is what gives a landscape its personality.
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Trees are an essential feature of most well-planned yards. You want not only the height that trees provide but also the shade from the heat of the summer days. Trees can also be a dramatic focal point of a landscape bed, especially an unusual variety of specimen tree.
Hedges are shrubs planted close together to function as a border or natural fence for your property. They can create a sense of privacy without hindering the breeze or being visually less than attractive the way some fences can. A hedge can also be a wind blocker to protect your property during storms.
Shrubs can be large or medium sized, depending on where they are placed and how they should function. Many shrubs stay green all year, which helps the landscape retain some color in the winter months.
Flowers have the most impact in a landscape, and bring color and liveliness to your yard. If you want to improve your Hinsdale, IL, curb appeal, colorful flower beds would add to the beauty of your yard and home.
If you are contemplating an upgrade to your landscape, don’t forget about the impact that carefully chosen and implemented softscape elements can bring to your landscape.
Any patio that you consider for your Naperville, IL, landscape should complement the style of your home and seamlessly extend your living space. Brick can bring out the best in your home’s exterior and provide years of reliable, durable use. Here’s how to create a brick patio that’s goes well with the rest of where you spend your time.
For your modern home, you might initially want smooth, large stones to form the center of a patio—however, you’ll find the look of brick can achieve a similar aesthetic yet in a more classic way. Brick patios are not just crafted with the clay red color that is familiar and traditional, but brick materials come in all shades of gray and tan. Buff or even white brick pavers can keep the urban, monochromatic aesthetic that you love in your home’s appearance. If you are feeling edgy, you could choose a pink-hued brick that would make the patio a focal point of the landscape.
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If your home is more on the rustic side, you might think about a patio that utilizes brick pavers featuring more unique edges. Without the clean rectangular edge of a traditional brick, a more natural, weathered brick aesthetic can continue the woodsy, earthy appearance of your home and landscape. A more rustic brick paver can take on the look of weathered cobblestone.
The modern, open farmhouse is so popular, and with good reason because of its traditional lines and open floor plan. It relies on wood, brick, and stone for its gorgeous, approachable look. Brick has been part of the farmhouse look for many years, and continues to complement the beauty of this home style. Because the current farmhouse relies on the addition of stone to the outside, a gray or tan brick patio could add contrasting texture while continuing the colors in the stone.
Cottage or Bungalow
In a cottage or bungalow style home, small details make a crucial difference. Simplicity can be reflected in timeworn brick materials in multiple shades of red, tan and gray. This homestyle often makes heavy use of symmetry in the home structure and in the landscape, so continuing the symmetry in a brick patio would cause it to blend seamlessly with the other exterior elements. The same colors incorporated in a band around the edge of the patio keeps the even appearance. Or you could opt for a unique patio with what appears to be mirror images of brick patterns.
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While the choice of brick is central to the overall aesthetic of your patio, laying patterns will transform the style. The running bond pattern consists of pavers laid end to end with the joint of the pavers on either side aligned with the center. This simple and traditional pattern is timeless and won’t ever go out of style. The herringbone pattern has so much visual interest with its zigzag appearance. Laid in a circular pattern, brick pavers can create a central focus for a patio that might be accented with contrasting paving stones.
When considering all of the brick options and paying patterns for a patio, it is best to consult a landscape professional who has the expertise to recommend the choices that will bring the most functional, but eye-catching look, for your particular home.
Integrate Sustainability Into Your Naperville, IL, Landscape Design
A fully updated landscape is a key component of a valuable home and should be able to offer all the comforts that people expect from modern outdoor living. Here are a few current landscaping trends that will not only boost the resale value of your home, but will also enhance your outdoor living in Wheaton, IL.
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Create a Comfortable Escape
To combat the fast-paced nature of modern living, relaxation has become an increasingly important facet of outdoor living and landscape design. There’s nothing better than knowing you have your own special place to chill out after a long workday. But first, there are a few key criteria that should usually be met in order to create the kind of private getaway that truly enables you to leave the world behind. Keep in mind, the space should bear few maintenance requirements to ensure that far more time is spent relaxing than tending to the space. A weatherproof sound system can allow you to enjoy your favorite music, while outdoor lighting will make the spot accessible at any time of day or night. It is also important to invest in comfortable outdoor furniture that you would be happy to sit in for long periods of time. It could be in the form of some cushy chairs or a gorgeous seating wall with plush cushions thrown on top. This haven can be completely separate from your main entertaining area and surrounded by more greenery for a therapeutic atmosphere.
Retain Some Indoor Sophistication
Outdoor living spaces are often accessorized using materials and items that enhance their resemblance to indoor spaces. Luxurious materials like granite for the worktops in your outdoor kitchen or delicate fabric for your upholstered sofas can add a touch of indoor refinement to an outdoor space. A familiar addition, like a television set mounted above the fireplace, can also serve to make an outdoor living space feel just as cozy as its indoor counterparts. Many homeowners are now focusing on creating a near-seamless transition between their indoor spaces and adjacent outdoor rooms, allowing their patios to serve as extensions of their home. Large glass doors serve as the perfect barrier between such intimately related areas; however, any large door with a wide and spacious threshold will adequately connect the home and hardscape when kept open.
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Make Your Hardscape Self-Sufficient
Most of the major trends in modern landscaping serve a common goal: to minimize the number of trips that need to be made between the home and patio or poolside. Modern outdoor living spaces should be as independent from the adjacent home as possible, facilitating an easy and immersive experience. Achieve this by installing an outdoor kitchen and setting up an outdoor dining area to match it. Cooking and eating outdoors certainly has its benefits, including the quick dispersion of strong odors and the romantic ambience that accompanies starlit dining. Plant your very own vegetable garden in the backyard for easy access to the freshest ingredients and an added element of interest. Installing a fire feature is another way to ensure that you have everything you need in the comfort of your backyard—including heat! Not only will the outdoor fireplace keep you warm on chilly days and after sunset, but it will also fill the surroundings with a cozy, welcoming ambience.
When sustainability is a priority, it should be a top consideration in any changes you make to your landscape design. Being resourceful is made possible when plans are put in place before the digging and building begins. Use the following tips to accommodate for sustainability in your Naperville, IL, landscape design.
During the rainy months, stormwater can become a nuisance. It may not be something you keep in mind when you think about sustainability, but it should be. A rain garden is a basin that is dug into the ground that is especially designed to take on excess rainwater. The main scenario where this design becomes most efficient is near an roofs, driveways, patios, and other hardscape features that are fairly close together.
Instead of letting the water run off into the street and down the storm drain, rain gardens provide a healthy access point into the soil. This creates a cleaner water table thanks to the filtration of the plants that are placed in this area. Stormwater tends to pick up pollutants on its way to the closest body of water. To prevent this from happening, rain gardens are designed to filter out these pollutants during soil absorption. This is all done while keeping a large array of your favorite plants healthy and happy.
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Wasting water is a risk homeowners take when they invest in a large lawn and want to keep it as pristine as possible. Traditional sprinkler systems can
unfortunately lead to wasting large amounts of water. The main factor that such a sprinkler system does not take into account is how moist the ground is before the need to water it. You can find this moisture level by observing the amount of rain that falls, but who has time to pay attention to that? Landscape contractors who know your area and climate can keep track of it for you and help you think through the possibility of installing an irrigation system that would provide more efficient use of your water resource.
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Your soil is the key to keeping a healthy and sustainable landscape. The main problem people have is unhealthy topsoil that is not receiving enough nutrients. If you have a dry and unhealthy topsoil, you would have to use up more water to maintain it. To solve this issue, consult your landscaping professionals on a fertilizer plan to reintroduce much needed nutrients back into the topsoil. Make sure you ask about environmentally friendly fertilizers. This is because some fertilizers can pollute the water table when absorbed into the soil.
Consider using compost and mulch to build up the health of the soil while also improving your plants’ resistance to pest and diseases. You may want to avoid gravel or rocks for your weed control as they do not return organic matter back into the environment. A retaining wall could help with any erosion issues. You will also want to try to refrain from common walking paths along your lawn. If you find that’s unavoidable and one part of your lawn is getting constantly walked on, consider having a walkway installed to replace dying grass with beautiful stonework.