11 Stunning Hardscaping Ideas for Florida

Kate Mitchell

November 9, 2023

Here at LawnMore, we spend a lot of time talking about landscaping. That's lawns (or alternatives), flower beds, vegetable gardens, trees and other natural or growing features of your outdoor space. However, these horticultural aspects make up only part of your landscape. The other element is hardscaping: long-lasting artificial structures such as paths, walls, patios and driveways.

There are many types of hardscaping that can be used to add variety and functionality to your outdoor space. For example, a patio or deck extends your living space into the outdoors and makes it easy to enjoy your beautiful yard. A retaining wall, trellis or water feature can add visual interest and height variety to your landscape. Or a seating area with a fire pit or outdoor kitchen adds to your options for outdoor living and entertaining. Here are eleven great ideas for incorporating hardscaping into your North Central Florida landscape!

1. Walkways

A stone path winding through flowering trees

Walkways are an important feature of backyard landscaping. They make it easy to reach your garden beds and give the necessary attention to your plants, whether you're growing flowers, shrubs, herbs or vegetables. A pretty path can across the lawn to the front door looks charming and keeps your feet dry in wet weather.

Paths and walkways can be made from gravel, pavers or a combination of the two. Stepping stones are an easy option that add curb appeal as well as functionality to your yard design.

2. Patios

Chairs and a table on a patio surrounded by palm branches

A patio is a great way to add value to your outdoor experience, making it easier to enjoy the sight and scent of your favorite plants. A patio can increase your living space, allowing you to enjoy meals or entertain friends outdoors.

Check out our article on easy DIY patio options. Whether you go for gravel, concrete or stone, you just need to add seating and perhaps an outdoor table and you'll be all set to enjoy Florida's beautiful weather in comfort.

3. Pergolas and Arbors

Climbing plants with pink flowers and lots of bright green leaves grow across a pergola

A pergola or arbor is a great way to incorporate shade into your outdoor space. Encourage climbing plants with plenty of green foliage to grow over an arbor. Our post on climbing plants has plenty of suggestions for native plants with lush foliage that will add a pop of color to your patio as well as providing shade during the sunnier seasons.

What's the difference between an arbor and a pergola? Good question! The Spruce has a detailed explanation, but in general, an arbor is simpler and smaller - think an archway - whereas a pergola is usually larger and often has more architectural features such as columns. An arbor is typically freestanding, but a pergola is more likely to be attached to a house.

4. Retaining Walls

A raised lawn with a wall separating it from a path on a lower level

Retaining walls are strong, sturdy walls used to hold soil in place so that your lawn or flower beds can be at different heights on either side of the wall. Although in Florida's landscape we don't tend to have many natural slopes that might make a retaining wall a necessity to prevent erosion, these hardscaping features can still be used selectively to create a stunning layered garden with flower beds and shrubs at a range of different heights. Check out these ideas from Install It Direct!

If you're looking into building your own retaining wall, please be aware that some serious engineering can be required to ensure that the wall will be able to hold back the weight of all the soil pressing against it, especially when that soil is wet. If you think you're up for the challenge, do your research first! The other option is to ask an expert for help to plan and build retaining walls.

5. Seating

A wooden bench in front of a large shrub with red flowers and dark green leaves

Seating may seem an obvious addition to your outdoor space, but it's a small thing that can make a big difference. Although most forms of seating (chairs, outdoor sofas, hammocks, etc.) are not technically hardscaping, as they are not permanent structures, there are plenty of options for permanent, built-in seating to enhance your outdoor space.

Your patio or arbor could include built-in benches to make sure there's always somewhere to sit and enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful plants around you. Or you could incorporate a permanent stone or wooden bench on your lawn or beside a pretty shrubbery. For improved comfort levels you can get outdoor cushions or blankets, which can usually be left outside in good weather.

6. Fire Pits

A rectangular stone fire pit surrounded by built-in wooden benches

Building a fire pit is an enchanting way to add value to your outdoor space, especially if you enjoy being outside in the evening or at night. There's nothing quite like a crackling fire, perhaps with marshmallows toasting over it for s'mores, to add atmosphere and excitement to your outdoor living or entertaining. Building a stone fire pit will keep the flames contained and help everybody to stay safe.

Some fire pits include a grill for cooking on. If you're feeling fancy you can even install an iron tripod with a hook for a pot. Mossy Oak has some great tips here for cooking over an open fire.

7. Outdoor Kitchens and Pizza Ovens

A pizza inside a pizza oven with a lit fire at the back

If you're really into the idea of outdoor cooking, you should consider including an outdoor kitchen as part of your backyard landscape. These work particularly well in climates like Florida's, where the weather is usually warm enough to be outdoors all year round. During our hot summers an outdoor kitchen can even help to keep your house cooler as you won't need to use the oven or hobs indoors!

An outdoor kitchen can be as simple as creating a covered area for a grill, but from there it can get as complex as you like. There are options for outdoor sinks, refrigerators and gas burners. If you love pizza, you could even consider a pizza oven. There are options to purchase, or you can build your own, traditional-style, from stone, sand or bricks. Lowe's has a tutorial here!

8. Water Features

A small pond with water plants growing around it

A water feature can create a focus for your garden that works both day and night. A gently splashing fountain adds visual and audible charm to your outdoor space, and water features can look stunning at night if illuminated. Local wildlife such as birds, bees and butterflies will benefit from having a source of water available, especially during the hot weather we often enjoy in Florida.

Better Homes and Gardens has plenty of ideas here. Whether you want something small and subtle, like a stone bird bath; something grand, like a large fountain; or something natural, like a wild-looking waterfall you're sure to find inspiration.

9. Trellis

A wooden trellis supporting a woody plant with white flowers and tiny leaves

A trellis is an even simpler option than an arbor if you want to grow vines and other climbing plants. A simple structure attached to a wall or fence, a trellis provides a framework for plants to climb up. You can position a trellis next to a flowerbed or use containers beneath it for your planting.

10. Planters

A large stone planter overflowing with a white flowering plant

Built-in containers and raised beds are another simple way to add variety and visual appeal to your landscape design. Planters can be an excellent way to grow herbs or even some kinds of vegetables and keep them close to the kitchen door. You could focus on night-blooming plants to add pleasant scents to your outdoor living space. Planters are a great way to create visual contrast, as the smooth, strong forms of wood, stone or concrete contrast with soft, natural flowers and foliage.

11. Vertical Gardens

Green, leafy plants growing in pockets on a vertical wall

Creating a living wall, or vertical garden, is a fun and unusual landscape design idea that can help you incorporate more green planting into your outdoor area without taking up any extra space. It's also a great way to add a pop of color - whether that's in the form of lush evergreen foliage or flowers in bright colors - to an existing wall that might otherwise be unattractive.

A vertical garden can even help to improve air quality as well as adding aesthetic quality, especially if you don't have much other space in your outdoor area for planting. Country Living has some tips and different options for creating your very own living wall.

Getting Started with Hardscaping

Several of these hardscaping ideas can be included in your yard landscaping plans as DIY projects. However, it's always worth considering working with professional landscape designers if you want to make changes to the way your outdoor space looks. If you want a beautiful hardscape design that will be structurally sound and will add value and ease of use to your outdoor space for years to come, it can be a good idea to consult a professional landscaper such as LawnMore Gainesville.

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