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Georgia Clipping: Hardscape projects must be planned carefully!

By EDDIE SEAGLE

“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow.  It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.”  William Sharp.
The winter weather continues as the month of January speeds right along without hesitation  or reservation. As comfortable days turn into colder nights, we realize we are another day closer to springtime.
Shifting your train of thought from the weather to the plantscape and hardscape of your landscape, your imagination becomes your resource and guide. Basic yards are converted into functional outdoor living spaces for personal enjoyment. Many hardscape products are on the market for creating stylish and graceful walkways, geometric or curvilinear lawn and garden pathways, stunning and functional patios and impressive outdoor room spaces which may include benches and seating, fire pits and fire places, and steps and stones.
Also, investing in hardscapes to enhance and enrich your home’s exterior curb appeal increases the economic and aesthetic value of your home and property. In the practice of landscaping and grounds care, hardscapes refer to the paved areas like streets, driveways, sidewalks, patios and courtyards where the actual upper soil profile is no longer the exposed surface to the elements.
A balance should be established between the use of hardscapes and the availability of grass and beds to allow infiltration and minimize the amount of water that must be removed through actual drainage systems. Any imbalance or lack of appropriate capacity can cause major flooding situations after heavy rainfalls or major storms.
Hardscaping projects, like everything else, must be planned carefully to minimize common mistakes and provide an area that can be enjoyed for many seasons and years. First, consider the entire area as a whole in the design process even if the project will be developed in parts or segments. Think of it through the vision of your home structure – you plan the whole home, not one room at a time each year. For example, you want to negate improper patio placement this season which becomes in the way of expansion next season and has to be removed or broken up.  Make every effort to design proper placement of your use areas.
Second, a very severe potential problem involves ignoring the drainage. Never ignore drainage. If you do, then the end result can be very ugly and costly. You must know that the area will properly drain and what impact your patio or wall project might have on drainage and what issues must be addressed before construction. From an environmental consideration, you should design your project so that any run-off can be collected or directed in such a manner that it can be used on site. Otherwise, it will be wasted as it leaves the site through drainage lines.
Also, any material used as a hardscape should blend into the landscape. For example, boulders that are placed on top of the ground as part of a site development do not blend in as effectively as those which are partially buried into that portion of the landscape. Those boulders that are partially buried blend in and appear as a natural component.
Also, develop a strong balance and complementation between the use of green vegetation and hard surfaces. Know when to “green it” with grasses and groundcovers, and when to “gray it” with concrete, stepping stones or brick. Turfgrass is a much safer playing surface for children and also helps to cool down the landscape on sunny days, while paving better serves traffic flow patterns and heavy-use flats or landings.
Remember to feed and water the songbirds. Give your pets the care they need. Do not leave them unattended in a cold/hot car or tied to a tree all day long. Do not leave them out at night in cold or inclement weather. Also, be on lookout for children playing and bicyclists riding along the streets and roadways throughout our communities. Don’t drive distracted or impaired, and don’t text while driving. Let’s keep everyone safe!
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities (His eternal power and divine nature) have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.
Seagle is a Sustainability Associate, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International), Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus (Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College), Associate Editor of The Golf Course (International Journal of Golf Science), and Short Term Missionary (Heritage Church, Moultrie). Direct inquiries to eddie@csiseagle.com.