Hardscape elements: paths, walls, patios, fences.

There is a lot that can be done in a weekend project. The key is to break things down into individual tasks. This requires some planning ahead and I can provide a detailed set of instructions so that the project proceeds quickly and successfully. The first step is measuring out and marking the proposed locations of the new elements in the garden; doing this correctly can save on materials and reduce frustration. I design the layout of hardscape elements with the dimensions of available materials (like pre-fab fence segments) in mind to keep the amount of complicated adjustment to an absolute minimum. Often it turns out that the hardscaping actually required is much less than what a landscape contractor would recommend.

Fancy hardscaping installed by a landscape contractor is extremely expensive, and while d.i.y. solutions are generally not as flashy, in my experience they often provide greater satisfactions and function more organically with the needs and style choices of the owner. There are more and more products available to make doing it yourself more accessible to anyone with the will to try. The generic look of pre-fab elements is easily overcome by adding personal touches after installation and by terrific plant choices that focus the attention away from the inexpensive framework. Also, contractors frequently install the same or similar generic materials that are available as inexpensive d.i.y. elements. Sometimes it is also worth considering using ephemeral materials that will last only one or two seasons but are inexpensive and quick to install, have low environmental impact, and are generally charming. One example is using bamboo or sweetgrass screening attached to an existing chain-link fence or held between two posts to hide cluttered views and provide instant privacy with great textural interest. These can be installed vertically, horizontally or at an angle to give different effects. Try them out to find the placement that is most pleasing. One of the keys here is to have the courage to try things out. It is generally more satisfying to make a modest intervention right away than to wait for the “perfect” and expensive solution down the road when the money is available. The time to enjoy your garden is always now.