Hardscaping in Idaho: A Guide to Planning Your Patio, Driveway, Walkway & More

What Is Hardscaping?

Nothing against flowers, shrubs, and trees — everybody loves those guys.

But hardscape is where your Idaho landscaping starts to get fun.

It’s the patio where you bust out the margaritas after a long week of work. The pretty pergola where you sneak out for a bit of quiet time, just you and that box of ice cream sandwiches you hid — um, stored — in the freezer.

pergola with hardscape fire place and outdoor kitchen area

Hardscape is the elegant paver driveway that makes you feel fancy every time you pull in, even if you’re wearing yoga pants and lugging a 20-pound bag of cat litter.

It’s the deck where birthday party memories are made, where friendships flourish, where you’re pretty sure you left your sunglasses, so where the heck are they?

You’ll notice hardscape includes the word “hard.” You’re about to discover how easy it is to bring your hardscape ideas to life. 

Hardscape makes life better. Are you ready?

Paver Driveway Installation: An Instant Elegant Upgrade 

What better place to start than the entrance to your home? 

Have you checked out paver driveway design ideas lately? You might just want to move out onto your driveway.

Honestly, your living room floor can’t compete. 

It’s easy to make your driveway design unique, artistic, and downright stunning with pavers. 

paver driveway

Choose contemporary modular or slab pavers; traditional cobble and brick pavers; or pavers with the look and texture of natural stones.

Mix and match patterns and colors to create a work-of-art driveway that’s one of a kind. 

To be honest, the paver driveway design choices can be sort of overwhelming. That’s where a skilled landscape designer comes in, with catalogs full of ideas, piles of samples, and the experience to help you figure out what pavers best match your house, why you should consider a border, and what size to choose.

If you’re thinking this all sounds amazing, but what’s wrong with a simple concrete driveway, that’s a legit question. 

Here’s the answer:

Concrete vs Paver Driveway: Pavers Have the Edge

Paver driveways not only look amazing, they’re a lot tougher than they look, easily outlasting concrete

Have you ever noticed how many cracks show up in a concrete slab driveway? 
Unlike solid slabs of concrete, pavers flex and move as they shift, which means they don’t crack.

No tree root troubles, either. Just pick pavers up, remove those rude tree roots, and replace the pavers.

paver driveway

And if a paver gets damaged, it’s easily replaced, if you save a few from your paver driveway installation.

It’s important the area is properly graded and leveled so the pavers are even. Proper drainage is crucial, too. Make sure you hire a paver driveway installation company with the skill and experience to do this right. 

If you want to make your driveway more environmentally sustainable, you can use permeable pavers, which allow water to move through the surface. That helps with erosion and stormwater issues.

Walkway Design Ideas: Walk This Way 

If your walkway is so boring, cracked, or ugly you can’t even look down at it, yikes, you’re in danger. What if you trip, break your ankle, smash up your nose, then faint from embarrassment when the new neighbor sees it all happen? 

You got here just in time.

Luckily, there are tons of great walkway design ideas to the rescue. 

walkway up to home

Don’t assume you’re stuck with the plain old walkway that came with your house. No offense to builders, but they don’t usually include the most exciting walkway design. 

How can an Idaho hardscaping company spruce things up?

  • Make it wider. Builder walkways are typically pretty skinny. A wider walk offers a more elegant welcome, and room for that neighbor who likes to stop by while walking her three golden retrievers. 

  • Add some curves for flair and interest.

  • Have fun with pattern. Paver walkway design can be anything from classic herringbone to a contemporary mix of assorted shapes and sizes. Be creative!

  • Do a border. Add some color. Why should you have a basic walkway that looks just like everybody else’s? You shouldn’t. 

Don’t Forget to Seal the Deal

Don’t let ugly weeds invade your pretty new walkway design. 

paver walkway near home to outdoor fire pit area

Your best defense: sealer. Sealant also protects your walkway pavers from stains and protects the color from fading.

How to Design a Patio or Deck: Think About How You’ll Live Out There 

If you’re planning a deck or patio design, you might be overwhelmed with all the questions. 

Pavers vs. natural stone vs. concrete?  

Can you save money with stamped concrete?  

Deck construction: wood or composite? 

What to serve with chips at your first backyard bash — salsa or guacamole? (That one’s actually easy. Definitely serve both.) 

outdoor patio with hot tub and fire area

Hardscaping in Idaho is all about enjoying the outdoors, and it all starts with the perfect outdoor room. 

But what kind of room? Patio or deck? 

Maybe you already have your deck design figured out, with layers of lighting and huge potted plants. Or maybe you’re a patio person, happily reviewing paver patterns in your sleep. 

Can’t decide? No need! Create a deck that leads down to a pretty patio. (It would be mean to make you choose, right?)

Deck Construction: Wood or Composite? 

If you’re daydreaming about decks, you probably already know you can opt for natural wood, which is the cheapest choice, or composite decking, the pricier option

composite decking

Yes, wood costs less for deck builders to install initially, but a wood deck can end up more costly due to maintenance. Wood needs to be cleaned and stained every few years, and it can warp over time. 

Composite decking lasts longer, won’t rot or be devoured by insects and is low-maintenance. There are also lots of color, texture and style options with composite deck construction. 

Backyard Patio Design: How Will You Live Your Life Out There?

Whether you choose a deck, a patio, or a combination of both, the first thing to do is chat with a landscape designer about how you plan to use the space.

Photos are great for deck or patio design inspiration, but you want a deck or patio that perfectly works for you and your lifestyle — not for that Pinterest family. 

patio with firepit and seating

Both patio and deck design can include separate levels with steps, terraces, and seating walls, creating outdoor rooms for different purposes. It’s like home — but outside! 

But a deck or patio can also be a cozy, intimate spot, perfect for romantic candlelit dinners or the perfect morning yoga session. 

Let your lifestyle guide your choices.

How to Design a Patio? Beyond Choosing Pavers 

Remember, a lot more goes into backyard patio design than choosing your paver pattern. (Although that’s super fun.)

Add a few more letters to “fun” and you get functional — a great reason to work with an experienced Idaho hardscape construction company. 

patio with seating and outdoor kitchen

If patio builders don’t grade the area correctly, water can back up and cause flooding. Water can’t penetrate a hard surface like a patio the way it does a garden bed.

The most awesome, high-end patio isn’t so great if it means your basement floods with every heavy rain.

Need some privacy out there? A skilled landscape designer knows that Swedish aspen is hardy, great for screening and offers pretty fall color. And that Green Giant arborvitae grows as much as three feet per year and can withstand heavy ice or snow. 

Hardscape construction involves so many important details. Landscape designers love details. They won’t let you miss a thing.

Retaining Wall Design: It Can Do More Than You Think 

Retaining walls need a better advertising campaign. Sure, they come in real handy if you have a steep slope or drainage challenges, but they can do so much more

What is a retaining wall? A real landscaping multi-tasker. 

retaining walls with walkways and plantings

Made of concrete blocks, rocks, or other materials, retaining walls hold back the soil behind them.

That makes them great at preventing harmful erosion that can destroy plants, damage building foundations, and wash away fertilizer and nutrients your soil needs.

Maybe you don’t have any of those problems. That’s cool.

But could you use some extra backyard seating? Built-in sitting walls are one of the most popular uses of retaining walls in Idaho landscaping.

Just cap off the walls with flat stones that create perfect places to sit. 

Retaining wall with seat wall and fire pit

Other retaining wall design ideas:

  • Add retaining walls around your fire pit for double duty: built-in seating that also creates a windbreak for your fire.

  • Make your hot tub area even cozier by adding a retaining wall around it. It will cut the wind on blustery nights and help protect your hot tub from the elements.

  • Skilled retaining wall builders can create unique landscaping features by adding focal points, carving out charming garden rooms, and transforming pesky slopes into elegant multi-level terraces.

What is a retaining wall? So much more than you thought, right?

Outdoor Fire Features: Beyond the Marshmallows 

Let’s cut right to the chase and add marshmallows to your grocery list. 

When it comes to hardscaping in Idaho, you can’t get much more popular than outdoor patio fire features.

natural stone fire pit with patio

The marshmallows are in the cart. Now what?

1. Make Sure It’s Legal

Each city’s fire and burning codes are different, so check with your local municipality before you get too far into your excited planning and marshmallow buying.

2.  Wood or Gas? 

Are you the “let’s go chop some firewood“ type or the “time to flick a switch” type? 

Either is great, but it’s good to know ahead of time. 

gas fire pit with seat wall

Which of these outdoor fire pit ideas best suits you?

  • A natural gas fire pit lights easily and quickly and doesn’t produce smoke or sparks. But it isn’t the best for cooking and doesn’t provide as much heat as wood.

  • Wood burning fire pits offer a campfire feel, put off a lot of heat, cook food and are cheaper than gas. But be prepared for smoke and sparks and they’re trickier to control.

3. What Size Do You Need?  

Will you be buying bags of marshmallows by the dozens? Or will one bag last your party of two for a month?

As you consider outdoor fire features, think about how you’ll use yours

firepit with small patio and water feature

Smaller, more intimate built-in fire pits are about two to three feet wide, while larger fire pits for entertaining groups can be up to four to six feet wide.

Questions? Check in with a skilled landscape designer. They can help you decide on the perfect outdoor patio fire features and they also have helpful tips on things like location and wind direction, so your bedroom pillows don’t smell like s’mores. (Or maybe that’s a plus — up to you!)

Backyard Pergola Ideas: Plan, Build, Lounge

Think of all the great things you can do while sitting underneath your new backyard pergola.

wood pergola with plantings in backyard

Read five books. Eat a whole bag of cheese puffs. Daydream about how jealous the neighbors will be when they see you eating cheese puffs beneath your new pergola.

The possibilities are endless, really. But first you have to do some pergola pondering.

pergola near plantings with picnic tables

First, What’s A Pergola?

This popular garden structure is made of vertical posts or pillars that support crossbeams and sometimes sturdy open lattice. Sounds simple enough. But a backyard pergola offers so many great possibilities:

  • A pergola can be attached to your house to extend over your patio or deck, or freestanding and located anyplace on your property where you want to add shade, an entertaining spot or a blissful garden getaway.

  • A pergola is perfect for entertaining. “Let’s eat under the pergola” sounds fancy and cool.

  • On a hot sunny day, a pergola’s open roof casts filtered light that lessens the sun’s intensity. 

  • Pergola installation is versatile. Build one over your spa. Add one to your outdoor kitchen. Have it next to the swimming pool.

  • Extend your garden. Train vines up the support posts, wind wisteria or grape vines through the lattice overhead.

  • Add lights! Twinkling white lights strung in the lattice overhead create an outdoor bistro. Instant party.

So, obviously, you need a pergola. But before the happy day of pergola installation, you need to figure out a few things.

pergola with fireplace

How will you use it? If you’re planning big parties, you'll need a larger pergola than if you’ll mostly be enjoying intimate romantic dinners or lounging solo munching cheese puffs. 

What size pergola do you need? Should it be attached or detached? What material is best? Vinyl? Fiberglass? Wood? 

Chat with a landscape designer, who’s happy to help you figure it all out, from inspiring pergola ideas right through expert pergola installation.

Outdoor Kitchen Design: Planning Makes Perfect

Sure, you could bring your toaster outside with a loaf of raisin bread and call it an outdoor kitchen, but we all know you have bigger dreams than that. 

Read The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen
Your outdoor kitchen design deserves just as much thoughtful planning as an indoor kitchen — actually, probably more. You don’t want to make costly mistakes
A few things to ponder:

Enough Space for Food Prep

Just like in your indoor kitchen, you need enough space to work your culinary magic— even if that just means skewering those pineapple salmon kabobs. 

outdoor kitchen with seating and grill

When planning your outdoor kitchen design, make sure there’s enough counter space around the grill for setting food, drinks, and the ingredients you need. Remember how you never seem to have enough space in your kitchen? Don’t skimp.

Outdoor Kitchen Design: Be Comfortable Out There

Remember, this kitchen is outside, so plan for weather. 

A shade structure like a pergola or awning can keep the sun from roasting you and also block some of the rain. If you have a solid structure over your kitchen, your outdoor kitchen builders can install fans to keep things cool. 

outdoor kitchen with wood pizza oven

If you want to use your outdoor kitchen right through the cool days of fall, consider outdoor heaters or a fireplace to keep things cozy.

Bring on the Entertainment 

You’ll be spending a lot of time out there, so when planning your outdoor kitchen design, think about the amenities you use and love when you’re inside, especially when you’re entertaining. There are great TV and sound systems designed for outdoor installation.

Plenty of Seating

Nobody wants to eat your grilled artichoke and goat cheese bruschetta while standing up. It’s kind of messy.
A comfortable sitting area is an outdoor kitchen design must have. 

kitchen with seating and outdoor kitchen

Your outdoor kitchen builders can extend patio space from your outdoor kitchen to create room for tables, chairs, and even sitting walls. A skilled landscape designer can help you figure out how much space to allow so seating doesn’t feel cramped.

Outdoor Lighting

Lighting is crucial for your outdoor kitchen design, not just so you don’t trip while carrying a tray of mango margaritas, but also to create a fun and relaxing vibe that continues well into the evening. 

outdoor lighting with water feature and fire pit

Outdoor kitchen builders can install landscape lighting on structures like pergolas, sitting walls, in trees and even under the overhang of the kitchen’s counter.

Landscape Design and Construction Process: A Mini Walk Through

You’ve been staring a lot, haven’t you? Staring at the concrete slab you wish were an elegant paver patio. Gazing at the blank space out back perfect for a charming pergola. 

Now, yay, you’re finally taking action! 

So, what’s about to happen out there?

color landscape design

Expect a whole team of experts. Project managers, designers, and crew foremen each do their part to make sure you have a great finished product. 

Here’s a condensed look at the steps along the way:

1.The Hardscape Landscape Design Process

This is the fun part — meeting with your landscape designer to plan your patio, pergola, paver driveway or other hardscape project. Share Instagram photos and those Pinterest pins, talk about how you want to use the space, soak up all their cool designer-ish hardscaping ideas. 

landscape design

Pro tip: Be upfront and honest about your budget. It will save time and frustration along the way.

2. Landscape Construction in Idaho: The Nitty Gritty

Less fun than design stuff, but equally important: we assess your site for drainage, water, utilities, traffic and other builder sort of issues.

We’ll discuss and set a realistic budget and timeline for the project. Oh, right, budget. How much will all of this cost?

landscape construction moving stone

To be honest, there’s a huge range when it comes to hardscape projects. Prices vary widely, based on everything from size and materials to obstacles on your property that affect installation. 

Your Idaho hardscaping services company can give you a good cost estimate on your exact hardscape project. 

After your hardscape design is complete, project management steps in to finalize the project details, handle the contract, down payment and project timeline.

3. Installation: Please Excuse the Noise and Mess

If you have a 5-year-old in your life, they’ll love this whole landscape construction process.

Depending on the size and type of your project, we’re talking excavators, trenchers, saws, piles of dirt, and lots of cool dust flying around. (No worries — you should expect your Idaho hardscape installer to clean up trash and other unneeded materials each day.)

landscape team install hardscape and grass

During installation, you’ll work directly with the project manager on site. Questions? Concerns? Changes? You’ll know who to talk to, easy peasy.

4. Almost Done!

After some digging, hammering, sawing, maybe plumbing comes the final walk through to make sure everything is just perfect. Then you make the final payment.

5. The Woo Hoo Part!

Start planning your patio party, your pergola relaxing, your driveway admiring, your fire pit fiesta.

Hardscaping in Idaho: How Long Will It Take?

Probably not as long as you think, although it depends on some varying factors, such as size of the project, potential grade changes, time of year, and other issues.

outdoor fireplace with seating and fire pit

But if you plan far enough in advance and give us the right information upfront, we can generally have your project finished in about 6 weeks.

Six weeks! We can almost see the finished project, can’t you?

Choosing a Hardscaping Company in Idaho Falls

Of course, your new hardscape project has to look great. But it also has to work great.

Hardscape can be tricky. There’s drainage and water management involved here. Fire pit placement. Foot traffic patterns. 

landscape team prepares to install project

There’s a lot more to this than what color roses you want to grow up your pergola. Expert, thoughtful hardscape design plus skilled Idaho landscape construction makes sure everything is perfect

How to choose? Ask a few great questions:

  • How long have they been in business? Will they still be around if you have problems or questions down the road?

  • Are they happy to give you references to check out?

  • Do they do a lot of hardscape projects? Make sure this isn’t just a small thing they do on the side.
  • What do their customers say? Have you checked out their Google reviews? You want to see a lot 
    of reviews and close to five stars.

  • Do they have a designer on staff? This is crucial. You have a lot of choices to make. It can be pretty overwhelming. It really helps to have a skilled, licensed landscape designer to help walk you through it all. Not all hardscaping services in Idaho Falls have one on staff.

  • Is their website helpful? Good hardscaping companies invest time and money in their websites to make it easier for potential customers to learn about them. Do they explain all their services and how they make it easy and comfortable to work with them? Do they provide educational and informative blog articles? Do they make it easy to sign up and contact them? 

Speaking of Easy…

Here at Outback Landscape, we love matching our clients with your dream hardscape design and watching your excitement as the process unfolds. 

And we make it easy, from your first meeting with our landscape designers right through to the excitement of your Idaho hardscape installation.

We’ll talk with you about your expectations, what the project includes, the expected time frame for completion, and your budget.

Bring all your questions. This will be fun!

Outback Landscape is a full-service landscaping company offering maintenance, design, and landscape installation throughout Southeast Idaho and Wyoming. 

We install beautiful, functional landscapes. But our work doesn’t stop there. We’ll stay with you for the long haul, taking care of your property through all four seasons.

We serve residential and commercial properties in Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Pocatello, Idaho, as well as Bonneville, Madison and Bannock counties.

Call us at 208-656-3220. Or fill out the contact form to schedule a no-obligation meeting with one of our team members.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Get Started Today