5 Smart Strategies for Selecting Cost-Effective Landscape Materials

Landscape Materials

Landscape Materials: Enhancing Your Outdoor Space

When it comes to landscape materials, there are many products available for DIYers to use to create their desired outdoor area. Whether you want a relaxing place for yourself or a vibrant space to entertain guests, there are countless options to create a functional outdoor environment. We examine and explore the most popular landscape materials such as water features, hardscaping and rock gardens, and even gardens for meditation or Zen spaces.

Water Features: Ponds, Fountains, and Waterfalls

Water features provide an eye-catching visual element that is often the centerpiece of many backyards. Ponds, fountains, and waterfalls make any outdoor area look and feel luxurious. They add a unique sound element to the environment that can be calming and meditative. Additionally, water features create an inviting atmosphere for species of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and small aquatic creatures.

Features: Trash screens, skimmers, UV sterilizers for water clarity, and filtration components.

Benefits: Low maintenance, requires little chemical, adds extra charm, and provides a place for wildlife to thrive.

Pros Cons: The pros of having a water feature are that it is low-maintenance and adds an attractive element and sound element to the outdoor area. However, some cons to consider are that water features require a high level of setup and attention to maintenance, in order to keep them functioning properly.

Case Studies:

  • Homeowner Joe Smith has had a beautiful waterfall in his backyard pond for over 10 years and it continues to get compliments from all that pass by. He takes great care of it and takes extreme measures to ensure it is in the best condition possible, such as changing the water and performing filter maintenance once a month.
  • The Jones family replaced their traditional garden with a stunning string of small waterfalls, creating a beautiful and inviting atmosphere for their visitors. They have low-maintenance fish, which adds to the enjoyment of their extra outdoor space.


  • Are water features easy to maintain? Water features require a high level of setup and maintenance. However, with proper care and attention, they are relatively easy to take care of.
  • Can wildlife thrive in a water feature? Yes! Wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and small aquatic creatures can thrive in a water feature.

Mistakes People Make: One common mistake that many make with water features is not thoroughly cleaning the water on a regular basis. This can lead to murky or murky green water, bacterial overgrowth and even algae outbreaks. It is also important to ensure that the water feature is adequately aerated in order to maintain its health and clarity.

Best Practices: It is important to perform weekly filter maintenance and operate the water feature at least 10 hours a day. Testing the water to ensure it meets all the requirements in terms of pH, alkalinity, ammonia and nitrites is critical for the health and longevity of the water feature. Additionally, adding pond dyes or pond plants can help keep the water clean and clear.

Hardscaping: Patios, Walkways, and Retaining Walls

Hardscaping is a great way to create a fully functional outdoor area. Patios, walkways, and retaining walls add an aesthetic element to the outdoor space as well as create a practical element for activities such as entertaining guests, cooking, or simply providing an area to relax in the sun.

Features: Patios with benches, outdoor tables, and chairs as well as retaining walls for seating. Walkways with patio stones, garden stones, and pavers.

Benefits: Improves outdoor usability, offers a convenient place for entertaining, enhances the space with a beautiful aesthetic, and adds value to your home.

Pros Cons: Pros include improved usability, enhanced aesthetic, and creating a cozy outdoor space. Cons include the cost and time involved in the installation process and potential damage to existing lawns or plants.

Case Studies:

  • Homeowner Margaret Davis had a professionally built patio installed in her backyard. She says that it has been nothing short of miraculous, providing her with a convenient place to host friends and family. Additionally, the addition of the patio has added tremendous value to her home.
  • The Wongs installed a stone walkway to their garden, creating a stunning pathway that is functional and attractive. They say that they have been delighted with the design and installation process.


  • What is the difference between hardscaping and softscaping? Hardscaping includes features such as patios, walkways, and retaining walls, which are permanent and require maintenance and upkeep. Softscaping refers to features such as adding plants, trees, and grass to the landscape.
  • What are the benefits of having a patio? The benefits of having a patio include improved usability, enhanced aesthetic, creating a cozy outdoor space, and adding value to your home.

Mistakes People Make: One common mistake when it comes to hardscaping is not getting a professional to do the installation. This may result in an incorrect level of the concrete or a patio that is too small, leading to additional repair or replacement costs.

Best Practices: It is important to ensure that the area where the hardscaping is to be installed is level and free of debris. Additionally, make sure to use high-quality materials and hire a professional if you are not confident in doing the job yourself.

Rock Gardens: Design and Installation

Rock gardens are an attractive and easy to maintain feature that can be added to landscapes. They are relatively low maintenance and provide a natural and calming element to any outdoor area.

Features: Types of landscaping rocks, rock garden plants, and rock garden lighting.

Benefits: Low maintenance, provides a natural and calming element, and can be used to create different shapes and formations.

Pros Cons: Pros include low maintenance, aesthetic appeal, and ability to create unique designs. Cons include the costs associated with purchasing and installing the rocks and potential for damage if not installed correctly.

Case Studies:

  • Homeowner Tom Flynn added a rock garden to his landscaping with the help of his son. They put in a variety of plants and rocks to create a unique design. They say it was a fun project and has added a beautiful and tranquil element to their outdoor area.
  • The Johnson family built a small rock garden with a few simple plants and large river rock stones. They have found that it adds an attractive and naturalistic feature to their front yard, without requiring much maintenance.


  • What type of plants can I use in a rock garden? Any type of plant that is low-growing, drought tolerant, and requires little maintenance can be used in a rock garden. Examples include succulents, ferns, and ornamental grasses.
  • Are rock gardens expensive to create and maintain? Rock gardens are relatively inexpensive and require little maintenance. However, costs can increase depending on the size and other features you decide to incorporate.

Mistakes People Make: One of the most common mistakes when creating a rock garden is not providing enough drainage. This can lead to problems such as plants dying and soil erosion.

Best Practices: It is important to test the area before installing a rock garden to make sure it can handle the added weight of the rocks. Additionally, make sure to provide adequate drainage by adding organic mulch and scattered pea gravel.

Creating a Zen Garden or Meditation Space

Zen gardens and meditation spaces offer an aesthetically pleasing and calming atmosphere for relaxing or meditating. They are created with the idea of granting peace and tranquility for their makers.

Features: Smooth stones, gravel, and raked sand are the basics of a traditional Zen garden. Additionally, plants and structures such as lanterns, bridges, and pagodas can be added to create a more unique and attractive atmosphere.

Benefits: Calming atmosphere and offers an opportunity for contemplation and meditation.

Pros Cons: Pros include the calming atmosphere and attractive aesthetic. Additionally, a Zen garden can be relatively easy to create and maintain. Cons include the potential for high costs associated with purchasing some of the plants and structures that may be desired.

Case Studies:

  • Homeowner Brad Murray created a Zen garden in his backyard, using stones, gravel, and other simple elements. He has found that it has been a great place for him to relax and a wonderful feature to show to guests.
  • The Jenkins family added a tea house to their Zen garden for their meditation sessions. They found that adding this structure has enhanced their outdoor experience and added a unique blend of beauty and tranquility to their space.


  • What materials should I use to create a Zen garden? Stones, gravel, and raked sand are the basics of a traditional Zen garden. Additional elements such as plants and structures such as lanterns, bridges, and pagodas can be added for a more unique design.
  • How much does it cost to create a Zen garden? The cost of creating a Zen garden will depend on the size and features desired. Costs can vary and some additional features may be more expensive than others.

Mistakes People Make: One mistake that people make is not having a plan for the garden or rushing the process of creating the design. This can result in a design that is not aesthetically pleasing or one that does not meet the needs of the space.

Best Practices: Drafting a plan and doing research on different Zen gardens before beginning is important to ensure the desired look is achieved. Additionally, it is important to take your time and enjoy the process of building the garden in order to find the balance of aesthetics and tranquility.


When it comes to creating a functional and attractive outdoor living space, there are countless options. Whether you are looking for an area to relax or entertain, there are landscape materials available that can provide the ideal outdoor environment. From water features such as ponds, fountains, and waterfalls to hardscaping such as patios, walkways, and retaining walls and even rock gardens, there are countless materials and elements to create the perfect space.