mylandscapes contemporary garden design & build

getting au fait with hard landscaping

modern hard landscaping garden designs

blog / landscape hub

design & words Amir Schlezingeramir schlezinger

Tactile Landscaping

While we design and build many small London gardens, we often specify buff sandstone in large sizes to articulate a minimalist hard landscape mindset. Sizeable flagstones enhance garden scale across varied locations and breadths, producing clear definition amid clean lines. We also utilise concrete pavers, such as Blanc de Bierges, which resemble natural stone effectively. Porcelain tiles present a broad spectrum of finishes, and provide highly efficient surfaces, where we fit their slim profiles whenever stone is too heavy. Yet, natural stone remains our most inspiring, central paving material as an authentic, tactile and diverse surface – the focus of all great hard landscaping!

explore topics

– skip to –

1. tiles 2. slate 3. granite 4. concrete 5. limestone 6. red 7. buff 8. grey 9. blue 10. lilac

modern granite patio garden hard landscaping project
slate courtyard garden hardscaping
light porcelain tiles modern patio design

1 tiles

mayfair shade courtyard

The gamut of porcelain tiles is undoubtedly vast, and the types available, particularly from Italy and Spain, are continually increasing. Often, we utilise tiles due to a site limitation, where an 8mm profile forms a solution to a restricted sub-base. Tiles mimic natural stone well, and define a multitude of technical advantages, since grouting can be matched to the surface, ongoing maintenance is low, reversion of colour minimal and slip resistance predominantly excellent. When designing penthouse roof gardens, where weight is limited, tiles are exceptionally practical by enabling a broad range of sizes.

2 slate

hampstead modern courtyard

European slate is largely imported from Spain, though many beautiful variations originate in Brazil, Portugal and South Africa. We specify slate for countertops, water features and coping, yet mainly as paving surfaces. A robust material, slate can be specified in narrow bands, optimal in areas where we require dynamic detail, such as pathways. Quarried in slim profiles, slate's solidity enables large slabs to be formed at mere 30mm height, and this attribute sustains efficient transport, on-site storage space and labour management.

3 granite

This grainy, igneous construction stone, fashioned into a myriad of kitchen countertops, isn't as beautiful as sandstone, yet consistently handy. Granite in the West is often associated with corporate plazas, airports and private driveways, yet, in Japan, white, grey, pink and black granites are integrated religiously into spiritual compositions in temple, memorial, public and residential gardens. By utilising the material's resilience and multitude of finishes, colours and textures, we create meaningful contemporary gardens and urban roof terraces.

4 concrete

vauxhall roof garden

Blanc de Bierges is manufactured in Derby, East Midlands, and we utilise these warm, versatile concrete pavers in gardens and London roof terraces. This pioneering modular system provides one-off sizes, while slabs are engineered in a variety of distinct finishes. The tactile material sustains durable surface solutions, which appear natural and consistent in their dimensions, tones and textures.

concrete roof garden hard landscaping
red sandstone hard landscape garden
sandstone red
modern limestone garden designs

5 limestone

highbury garden

Various limestones aren't fully frost-resistant in Western Europe, while the material's brittleness and ongoing sealing requirements entail a challenging upkeep routine. Yet, cold-hardy limestones feature a clean, buff sandstone characteristic with distinct veining prevalent in granite – utilised effectively as a dynamic, tactile, hard landscaping material. Vast variations are quarried at slender profiles, handy when a sub-base is outjutting. Similarly to sandstone, this pale paving surface is often tarnished in a high water table and amongst overhanging trees, where sealant preparation is vital, augmented by regular maintenance which enhances its vivid tones.

6 red

Red veining in sandstone forms an invigorating, integral feature, complementing materials such as hardwood, granite and concrete. In California and Central Australia, sandstones are extensively red, and display highly unusual geological facets. A few red sandstones are available in the UK, imported from India and China, though they're best matched wisely with intrinsic flora characteristics and daylight ambience. The red veining is intriguing, since it represents Earth's natural process, the stone's evolution and its provenance.

7 buff

Buff sandstone isn't as shimmering as porcelain or limestone, and displays fascinating, inherent fossil imprints, while complementing countless landscape design materials in diverse climates. Foliage silhouettes generated onto the stone produce a dynamic interplay of contrasting shadows and light, while large-scale, buff flagstones truly increase sense of space in small, urban London gardens. There are numerous sources for this beautiful material in Yorkshire, China and India, although buff sandstone, as a soft sedimentary rock, requires attentive specification throughout various design & build methods.

8 grey

courtyard garden

Certain grey sandstones appear monotonous at times; we prefer a smooth stone, slightly varied, combining it with vibrant textures. We produce subtle nuances utilising various finishes, such as flamed, bush-hammered, honed and sandblasted. These captivating, hard landscaping techniques provide tactile surfaces, useful in creating bespoke step treads, landings and refined detail design within a broad spectrum of well-constructed, architectural gardens.

contemporary smooth sandstone garden
sandstone grey
roof garden terrace landscape experts
sandstone buff
town garden contemporary hard landscape design
sandstone blue

9 blue

minimalist garden design

We love the gracefulness of blue sandstone, and in London it blends seamlessly with natural light during daytime, appearing effortlessly elegant, as in many Northern Hemisphere gardens. James van Sweden and Wolfgang Oehme, the innovative American landscape architects, have blended blue stone abundantly into their remarkably expansive blueprints, which complements their romantic vision of natural prairie gardens organically. In this small, contemporary Kensington garden, we sought naturalistic essence by infusing bluestone hardscaping serenity. Aptly portrayed within minimalist hard landscaping, while juxtaposed alongside a lush woodland soft landscape, the smooth, cerulean sandstone invigorates a densely shaded urban outdoor space – narrating a miniaturised landscape garden.

10 lilac

Lilac and purple sandstones are certainly unique; originating mainly in Derbyshire's Peak District, China and the US, these unusual stones are often applied in facade cladding, yet produce remarkable essence when utilised as paving within contemporary outdoor spaces. Effective detail design methodologies integrate bold lilac stone by contrasting it with a subtle palette of beige, buff, slate, taupe, or off-white hues. Specifying oversized dimensions is outstandingly beneficial in small sites, where we increase sense of depth, and highlight sinuous, natural patterns across individual flagstone outlines.

landscape architect contemporary hard landscape detail
modern small town garden natural stone seat and raised bed
innovative hard landscaping detailing

– coda –

Hardscape to Landscape

Integrating natural stone into contemporary gardens fuses an ancient material within renewed outdoor settings, enhancing vital context. A stone's organic qualities are timeless, redefining a newly constructed garden with the history encrusted in its veins and fossilised essence. By utilising innovative design techniques, contrasting materials and energising foliage, hard landscaping forms a solid anchor for a gamut of details and textures. The unique matrix of landscape nuances we craft to articulate a cohesive garden design, unfailingly generates memorable outdoor spaces across a low upkeep, and not so hard after all, landscape platform.