If you want to learn the different names and kinds of hard materials we use in the landscape, best to go to the rock yard or the lumber yard. They showcase all the gravels pebbles decking flagstones bricks boulders and blocks and such you could ever dream of.

If you want to see how things hold up over time, go walk around the neighborhoods and parks and see the hardscape in action. How they weather, how they perform with use. If you want to see how things are built, then you will have to sneak a peek during the construction phase. Here’s a few pictures to get started. With the caveat that the whole world is your classroom if you keep your eyes open and have your observation skills honed razor sharp.

What happens to a concrete paver driveway if the base was not prepped properly or water and erosion and subsidence a problem?

What happens to a retaining wall over time if the weight of soil and water is too great and there is no way the wall can release that pressure? (The wall is not permeable in any way)

What are two ways to make a raised bed planter? Which one is permeable?

What about a new modular type system for building a retaining wall that is faster and easier than hauling huge blocks of heavy material or making a massive wooden form?

Dry stacked is the retaining wall made with no mortar. So it is permeable and allows built up pressure to be released.

How do you make a curved concrete structure?

What happens to four foot tall fence posts or trail posts in a windy and sandy area?

What lies underground where tree roots go?

Who invades my beautifully done stepping stones and walkways?

How do you give strength to a concrete structure like a slab or a wall? What kind of a skeleton must it have?

Can you tell the difference between pressure treated lumber and regular lumber?

What kind of edging is used here? How many different kinds of hardscape do you see?

And here? What kind of edging? What might be a potential problem with small round pebbles as a hardscape surface? Do you see the two areas (mulch and pebbles) as staying discrete over time?

Is the decking attached to the house? Is there appropriate flashing? Will it hold the weight of a thousand pound pizza oven imported from Italy? And all the people gathered there to partake of the bounty?

Is the flagstone on a stable base? Will the surface drain well when the first rains hit? Is it thick enough to be durable and not snap? Does it sit flat and even so that theres no tripping hazard, especially after a few glasses of wine and some fresh baked pizza? Are the joints between the flagstone filled with sand or grout? Is the flagstone mortared to a concrete slab? Permeability and drainage!

What grows on the wood walkway that sits under the shade, with overhead irrigation and rainfall?

How do you like the always green, never needs mowing turf?