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Traditionally, hardscaping refers to the act of landscaping an urban area—streets, sidewalks, the driveways and parking lots outside large business buildings and housing developments. But hardscaping is increasingly making its way to the suburbs and more specifically to the front and back yards of houses. The stone work involved with lawn hardscaping lends an air of prestige, elegance and exclusivity to a home, especially as a complement to the pool or outdoor patio area. However, it’s not easy to hardscape a house, and once you commit to the project, there’s no going back (well, there is, but it’ll be pretty expensive). So make sure to hire a professional after you spend plenty of time figuring out exactly what you want. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you embark upon hardscaping your lawn!

You are limited only by your budget: That may be encouraging or discouraging! But the beauty of hardscaping is there really is no limit to what you can do with a yard. And no matter what you do, adding stone work to your property will enhance it, both visually and in case you ever want to sell it. Still, planning is essential, because you don’t want to realize, after you’ve already invested your heart in a certain design, that your eyes are bigger than your stomach (so to speak). Know how much you have to spend before you begin planning and you’ll have a realistic idea of what you can (and can’t) pursue. The good news is you can spend as little as $15,000 to give your lawn an entirely new look—and, of course, a lot more than that if you have the money for it!

Treat finding the person or people who will hardscape your lawn seriously—or even more seriously—than the budgeting. Getting a professional who is good at hardscaping isn’t as simple as finding someone to mow the lawn or paint the fences. Make the wrong choice here and you’ll pay for it, quite literally, for years to come. After you have an idea of what you want to do, investigate local designers, then find and meet with those whose experiences are in line with what you have in mind. Determine if you’ll need a landscape designer (someone who handles smaller projects such as walls and paths) or a landscape architect (someone who handles more involved projects such as pool and patio hardscaping, and can coach you on issues such as water drainage). Get references on all your candidates and don’t rush into a decision.

Choose the materials you want for the stone work: The possibilities here are almost endless. Do you want flagstone, which are flat stones usually used for walkways, patios and pool areas? Or do you want natural stone? Infuse the new patio or walkway with antiquated brick, which gives a traditional and “homey” feel to wherever it is placed, or give it a more modern look with masonry blocks (also known as pavers). For more in-depth projects, look into keystone retaining walls, which are interlocking concrete blocks most often associated with the large retaining walls you see on highways.

Hardscaping is a challenge, but one well worth undertaking as long as you are cautious and thorough when embarking upon it. Good luck!