So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and are shopping around for a residential hardscape company to shape the backyard oasis of your dreams.

The possibilities and combinations are practically endless – will you opt for a pool and patio combination, a stone retaining wall and strategically placed water features, or an outdoor entertainment space with a meticulously crafted fireplace or firepit as its centerpiece?

Whatever your dreams and desires may be, remember this slight modification of a tried-and-true adage:

Measure twice, install once.

Hardscaping, like most landscaping specialties, is an art form. Unless you’re particularly handy, it’s not a weekend DIY project, and should never be rushed or slapped together.

Remember: accidents happen. And when working with sculpted stone and sheets of rock, they can be – pun intended – crushing.

  • Damage, injuries, and liability can arise from careless hardscaping mistakes. Dislodged, broken, or cracked pavers can send unassuming guests to the ground, while the structural collapse of retaining walls or waterfalls can not only ruin your landscape, but can be a bone-shattering safety hazard, as well.
  • Drainage errors are beyond the pale and should not be an issue if you hire a reputable residential hardscape company. All hardscaping designs should begin and end with the implementation of drainage in mind. Without it, sinking pavers can result, causing trips and falls. Patios, too, should be installed to direct water flow away from your home and other structures. When talking to your contractor, you should consider a plan that uses the positioning of your hardscaping to channel water to where it is needed most: your plants.
  • Poor base preparation is also a common, and completely avoidable, snafu. Again, uneven surfaces can cause guests to take a tumble and injure themselves. Not to mention the fact that shoddy workmanship simply sticks out like a sore thumb. A fly-by-night residential hardscape company can be singled out by its low-grade hand-cut stones, rushed edge work, and overall unprofessional aesthetic.

In addition to workmanship, which involves tasks such as excavation, compaction, leveling, and more – there exist a number of permits and permissions to clear prior to the start of work that a legitimate contractor will be able to help secure.

Upkeep, too, is a big consideration. Though most hardscapes should be relatively low-maintenance following the install – save for a routine cleaning – sealant should be applied to protect materials from the elements, preventing discoloration and fading.

Planning is of the utmost importance, as is clear communication with the residential hardscape company that you choose. Make sure to discuss the space you have to work with, what you hope to achieve with it, and what is ultimately reasonable and/or realistic, both logistically and budget-wise. Share details regarding your family and your lifestyle. They will be essential to create a residential oasis that will stand the test of time.