When most people think of a condo’s landscaping, images come to mind of well-trimmed lawns, beautiful flowers or stately trees. But there is another part of landscaping that is just as important, but not as well known – hardscaping.
“Hardscaping is all the stuff outside that does not live,” says landscape architect Tom Ryan, owner of Ryan & Associates Landscape Architecture and Planning in Waltham, Massachusetts. While generally thought of as paving, walls and fences, hardscaping also includes “trellises, benches, trash cans, lights, pools, tennis courts and other amenities,” says Ryan. It’s also driveways, pagodas, barbecue pits, seating, lighting and gutters and drainage systems.
The materials in the hardscaper’s palette include asphalt, concrete, granite, metal, wood, and rubber (all of which have been improved radically in the last few years), as well as stones such as flagstone and bluestone, and bricks. “And paving can be as simple as dirt,” adds Ryan.
Budgeting for the hardscape can be fairly painless for a condo association when the improvement that will result is a more beautiful landscape.
“But some of it is structural stuff and not aesthetically pleasing,” says Roger Sturgis, owner of Roger B. Sturgis & Associates in Farmington, Connecticut, like “when it comes to solving drainage problems or putting up retaining walls.” Often renovationsare invisible, in fact, as in, “I just paid $50,000 and I don’t see the damn thing,” says Sturgis.