Design 101: Your Landscaping and Hardscaping Questions Answered

Updating the yard and the grounds surrounding a home is one of the top projects homeowners undertake every summer. Of course, not everyone is a landscaping or hardscaping expert, so this month we answer some of your questions about both those tasks.

I have water issues with my lawn, how can I address them? 

If you mean you have too much water, you could have an issue with grading or drainage. This might be fixed as easily as extending your downspouts or could be as elaborate as significant foundation work and installing French drains. If your house has a septic system it could potentially have drainage field issues. However, if your issue is not enough water, then an irrigation system might be in order. Regardless of the concern, most of these issues are fairly routine for the appropriate professional to diagnose and put together a plan of action to address them.

Pro Tip: Root infiltration is no small issue when it comes to pipes. Remember that experiment from elementary school where the class planted seeds in concrete?


We were thinking about hardscaping with slate. What are your thoughts? 

We recently had a client who wanted to use slate in her backyard for a large patio and platform-style steps. While beautiful, we worried about the loss of traction that she would face when water or ice were present. Ultimately a paver in a similar look with a more favorable slip coefficient won out. It also didn’t hurt that it reduced the materials cost by more than 60%.  

Pro Tip: If you are open to alternate options, another product we highly encourage you to consider is stamped concrete. Just about anything you want can be mimicked in stamped concrete if your installer is talented enough. 


Is there anything else we should consider as we plan our hardscaping project?  

Clearly you will want to invite friends over to enjoy your new digs, and when you invariably lose track of time you will be thankful that you thought to include path and stair lighting to help guide them safely around the house and back to their cars. You might also add a few well thought out accent lights highlighting your plantings along the way.

Pro Tip: Light pollution is a serious problem, so consider using dark sky compliant lighting. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you will be saving on energy costs as well. 


When we select flora for the yard what should we keep in mind? 

Our preference is always to use native species over invasive ones, and low maintenance options certainly don’t hurt those of us with limited time or skill. The largest consideration for most of our clients however comes down to what is deer resistant. And while you can look up deer resistant plants per state, the hungrier the deer the less it seems to care about what it’s not supposed to want to eat.

Pro Tip: Just as we recommend a consultation with an Interior Designer for most projects, so too do we recommend one with a landscape architect for this one. It is always better to admit you don’t know what you don’t know.


I know I want to make changes to our yard but have no idea where to begin or how to describe what I want. 

The first step in our process always involves our clients imagining the experience they want to have in the space. From there, a professional should be able to help determine what’s needed to create the environment that will provide that experience. 

Pro Tip: Good questions to consider when envisioning the final use include how many people will occupy the space at a given time, and are there any accommodations that need to be made for accessibility.

Yaron Linett
About Yaron Linett 34 Articles
Yaron Linett is the principal designer of Formal Traditional, a full-service design firm located in Warrenton. To submit your interior design questions, drop him a note at or visit

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