What are the best plants to complement hardscaping?

Hardscaping, the use of non-living elements in landscaping, such as stone pathways, patios, decks, and retaining walls, can transform a garden into a sophisticated and functional outdoor space. However, the starkness of hard materials can sometimes feel cold or uninviting. Integrating plants into hardscaping designs is a perfect way to soften the edges, add color, and bring a natural touch to the structured environment. In this blog post, Liberty Heritage Nursery Farm helps to explore the best plants to complement hardscaping, considering various factors such as climate, maintenance, aesthetic appeal, and functional benefits.

Choosing the Right Plants for Hardscaping

Selecting the appropriate plants to complement hardscaping involves more than just picking visually appealing species. It’s essential to consider the climate, soil type, sunlight exposure, and the specific role each plant will play. Plants can be used to frame pathways, create privacy, add seasonal interest, and provide a lush backdrop to the more rigid structures. The goal is to create a harmonious balance between the hardscape and the softscape, ensuring that the plants enhance rather than overshadow the hardscape features.

Choosing the right plants for hardscaping is essential to harmonize soft and hard elements in outdoor spaces. Our hardscaping service integrates expert plant selection to complement and enhance the built environment. From low-maintenance shrubs to vibrant perennials, we consider factors like climate, soil conditions, and aesthetic preferences to curate plant palettes that thrive alongside hardscape features. By carefully selecting plants that soften the edges of patios, walkways, and retaining walls, we create inviting outdoor environments that strike a perfect balance between nature and structure. Explore our hardscaping service to discover how thoughtful plant choices can elevate your outdoor living spaces.

Ground Covers for Softening Pathways

Ground covers are excellent for softening the edges of pathways and patios. These low-growing plants can fill the gaps between stepping stones, add greenery to gravel paths, and create a lush carpet that contrasts beautifully with the hard surfaces. Some of the best ground covers include creeping thyme, which is drought-tolerant and releases a pleasant fragrance when stepped on, and sedum, known for its hardy nature and succulent leaves. Other popular choices are Irish moss, which thrives in partial shade and moist conditions, and ajuga, with its attractive foliage and blue flower spikes.

Ground covers are an elegant solution for softening pathways, offering both functionality and aesthetic appeal. These low-growing plants not only create a visually pleasing transition but also help prevent soil erosion and suppress weeds. Paired with driveways and walkways services, they enhance the overall landscape design, providing a cohesive and inviting environment. Whether it’s the vibrant hues of creeping thyme or the lush foliage of creeping Jenny, selecting the right ground cover can elevate any outdoor space. Discover more about driveways and walkways services here.

Perennials for Year-Round Interest

Perennials are plants that return year after year, making them a cost-effective and low-maintenance choice for hardscaping. They can provide color, texture, and height to hardscape features. Ornamental grasses like Miscanthus and Pennisetum are particularly effective, adding movement and softness with their swaying foliage and plumes. Hostas are another excellent choice, especially for shaded areas, offering a wide variety of leaf colors and textures. Daylilies and Echinacea are perfect for sunny spots, providing vibrant blooms and attracting pollinators.

Shrubs for Structure and Privacy

Shrubs are essential for adding structure and privacy to hardscaped areas. They can act as natural barriers, define spaces, and provide a backdrop for other plants. Boxwood is a classic choice for creating formal hedges and borders, known for its dense, evergreen foliage. For a more informal look, consider hydrangeas, which offer large, showy blooms and can thrive in a variety of conditions. Other excellent shrub options include spirea, with its cascading flowers, and viburnum, which provides seasonal interest with its berries and blossoms.

Shrubs play a crucial role in landscaping, offering structure, privacy, and year-round interest. These versatile plants can be used to create natural boundaries, define spaces, and add texture to garden designs. From dense evergreens like holly and boxwood to flowering varieties such as hydrangeas and rhododendrons, there’s a shrub for every preference and climate. Paired with professional landscaping services, these shrubs can transform outdoor spaces into tranquil retreats, providing both beauty and functionality. Explore more about landscaping services here.

Climbers and Vines for Vertical Interest

Climbers and vines are perfect for adding vertical interest and softening the appearance of walls, fences, and pergolas. These plants can create a lush, green backdrop and add a touch of romance to the landscape. Clematis is a popular choice for its stunning flowers and ability to thrive in both sun and shade. Ivy and Virginia creeper are hardy options that can quickly cover large areas, providing a cooling effect in the summer. For a touch of color and fragrance, consider climbing roses or honeysuckle, which can transform any vertical structure into a blooming spectacle.

Seasonal Annuals for Changing Colors

Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season, making them ideal for adding seasonal color and variety to hardscaping. They can be planted in containers, window boxes, or directly in the ground, providing flexibility and the opportunity to change the look of your garden each year. Marigolds, petunias, and geraniums are popular choices for their bright colors and easy maintenance. For a more exotic touch, consider planting coleus or impatiens, which offer striking foliage and thrive in shaded areas.

Native Plants for Low-Maintenance Gardens

Incorporating native plants into your hardscaping design can significantly reduce maintenance and support local ecosystems. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, requiring less water, fertilizer, and pest control. They also provide essential habitat for native wildlife. Examples of native plants include coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and prairie dropseed. These plants not only thrive with minimal care but also contribute to a sustainable and environmentally friendly garden.

Drought-Tolerant Plants for Water-Wise Landscaping

With increasing concerns about water conservation, selecting drought-tolerant plants is becoming more important. These plants can withstand dry conditions and reduce the need for supplemental watering. Succulents like agave and echeveria are ideal for hardscaping, offering unique shapes and textures. Lavender and Russian sage are other excellent choices, providing fragrant foliage and beautiful blooms. Ornamental grasses like blue fescue and feather reed grass are also drought-tolerant and add a graceful element to the landscape.

Edible Plants for Functional Beauty

Incorporating edible plants into hardscaping can create a functional and beautiful garden. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano are not only useful in the kitchen but also add fragrance and texture to pathways and borders. Berry bushes, such as blueberries and raspberries, can be grown as ornamental shrubs that provide delicious fruit. Fruit trees like dwarf apple or cherry trees can serve as focal points in the landscape, offering shade and seasonal interest with their blossoms and fruits.

Edible plants offer a unique blend of functional beauty, providing both aesthetic appeal and practical benefits. Incorporating fruits, vegetables, and herbs into your landscape not only adds visual interest but also yields delicious harvests for your kitchen. Imagine the vibrant colors of rainbow chard mixed with the delicate blossoms of edible flowers like nasturtiums, creating a picturesque edible garden that’s as delightful to behold as it is to taste. From the architectural beauty of trellised vines to the lush foliage of berry bushes, edible plants can enhance any outdoor space with their ornamental charm while offering a sustainable source of fresh produce.

Pairing these edible wonders with professional hardscaping installation services can elevate your outdoor living experience. Hardscaping involves meticulous steps such as site preparation, excavation, base installation, and the laying of materials like pavers or stones. This process, carried out by skilled professionals, ensures the creation of durable and aesthetically pleasing features such as patios, walkways, and retaining walls, providing the perfect backdrop for your edible landscape masterpiece. Explore more about the hardscaping installation process here.

Evergreen Plants for Year-Round Greenery

Evergreen plants are crucial for maintaining year-round interest in the garden. They retain their foliage throughout the year, providing consistent color and structure even in winter. Junipers and cypresses are excellent choices for their varied forms and textures. Hollies and laurels can be used for hedges or standalone specimens, offering glossy leaves and, in some cases, bright berries. Evergreen ground covers like periwinkle and pachysandra can keep garden beds looking lush and green, regardless of the season.

Container Plants for Versatility

Container plants offer versatility and mobility, allowing you to change the layout and design of your hardscaping with ease. They are perfect for patios, decks, and entryways where in-ground planting is not possible. Containers can host a variety of plants, from colorful annuals to small shrubs and even dwarf trees. The key to successful container gardening is selecting the right plants for the available light and ensuring proper drainage. Popular container plants include geraniums, begonias, and dwarf conifers, which can thrive in limited soil and add instant appeal to any hardscape area.


What plants look good against brick?

Hot colors—oranges, yellows, scarlet—are naturals against brick, as are the more mellow peach-pinks and soft yellows. Violet-blue flowers or burgundy leaves make good accents. Avoid cool purple-reds and lavender-pinks because they may clash with brick.

What plants are good for a crevice garden?

Crevice gardens are especially good for growing cold hardy cacti, South African succulents and other xeric plants whose roots are sensitive to wet soil conditions.

What is the best plant for sidewalk cracks?

One terrific choice for larger cracks or spaces is Caucasian stonecrop (Sedum spurium), also known as two-row stonecrop, which grows to about 3 inches tall, with a spread of up to 18 inches. Its leaves are deciduous, but dense roots hold soil between cracks through winter.

What are the best low maintenance outdoor plants?

Chives, sedum, geraniums, herbs, and agave can withstand a variety of extreme temperatures and still thrive. What are some low-maintenance outdoor potted plants that are hard to kill? Herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme are great plants that require little maintenance and continue to grow despite neglect.

What is the best plant to grow against a wall?

Ivy grows better in the shade, but it’s all-important autumn flowers bloom once it gets its ‘head’ into the sun. If you can erect a trellis, try Common Jasmine or a passionflower. Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans) is self-clinging and grows best against a sunny wall.


Integrating plants into hardscaping designs enhances the aesthetic appeal, functionality, and ecological value of outdoor spaces. By carefully selecting the right plants, considering factors such as climate, maintenance, and specific roles, you can create a harmonious balance between hardscape and softscape elements. Ground covers, perennials, shrubs, climbers, annuals, native plants, drought-tolerant species, edibles, evergreens, and container plants all offer unique benefits and can be strategically used to complement and enhance hardscaping features. The result is a dynamic and inviting garden that seamlessly blends the beauty of nature with the structure of man-made elements.

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