Creating Balance

Professional landscape design isn’t just planting some flowers and calling it a day. To truly elevate property from average to amazing, creating balance is key. A great landscape incorporates a blend of both hardscapes and softscapes to create a beautiful, finished, and professional look. Most importantly, hardscaping is what brings true functionality to your yard or commercial property.

What is the Difference Between a Softscape and a Hardscape?

We aren’t surprised that this may be the first time you’ve ever heard these terms. They’re recent additions to the language of professional landscape architects, but the meanings are simple enough.

Softscapes are what more people think of when they hear “landscape.” Softscapes are landscaped areas which rely on living plants, shrubs, trees, and grasses to create visual interest. On the other hand, hardscapes are constructed surfaces that fall into two general categories: flat surfaces like patios, decks, walkways, and driveways, and raised surfaces, such as retaining walls and stairs. Essentially, a hardscape is anything that is constructed to withstand foot or vehicular traffic or support other structures.

Make Your Indoor Areas and Outdoor Areas Seamless

Hardscaping is what creates the usual surfaces in your landscape for walking, driving and relaxing. They are the architectural foundation of most outdoor living spaces, such as outdoor kitchens, living rooms, and fire pit areas. From multilevel patio designs with steps to simple backdoor patios with low stone walls to provide extra seating for your family or guests, hardscapes are versatile and can be completely customized.

Hardscapes are the feature that brings continuity between your house and yard. They provide a visual flow of traffic, as well as provide the space you need and crave to gather and entertain your friends and family or enjoy a bit of relaxing quiet time on your own.


Functionality and Versatility

Add Value, Functionality and Versatility to Your Yard With Custom Hardscaping

Hardscapes also make a yard more functional, especially if slopes make mowing difficult or prevent you from using the space due to the incline. We can add functionality to your outdoor spaces by excavating these areas or installing retaining walls to make flat terraces. Flat surfaces give you the freedom to install a variety of features, such as an outdoor kitchen or living room, complete with patio. A well-designed outdoor living area only adds to the property value of your Minnesota home.

Finally, hardscaping requires very little in the way of maintenance. If you’re not someone who enjoys getting their hands dirty in the yard, or if you simply don’t have the time, replacing a portion of your yard with a hardscape might be just what you need to maximize your enjoyment. Less lawn means cutting down on yard work, a decrease in the fees for maintenance services, and an exponential increase in the amount of time that you have to enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors in your new outdoor living area.

We Use a Variety of Materials as Diverse As Our Hardscape Designs

We can create a flat hardscape from a number of different materials, depending on the style and feel you’re looking for. Some of the more popular materials we use include:

Interlocking pavers

A brick-like puzzle piece made out of concrete, interlocking pavers come in a variety of colors and textures. Whether you’re looking for a subtle look, or want to use multiple colors to make patterns or works of art, interlocking pavers are a simple way to make a statement with your hardscape.


Brick is a common and durable solution for hardscaping, especially when it comes to building retaining walls and sitting walls. Our masons have the experience and tools necessary to get the job done quickly and neatly.


It’s an old standard for a reason. Poured concrete is simple and can be used in virtually any sized or shaped space.

In the case of retaining walls and stairs, ALD can also construct these features from stacked stone or boulders, or modular blocks. We love working with stone and boulders for its natural charm.

Natural stone pavers

If you’re dreaming of cobblestone streets in Italy or sett pavements in France, natural stone pavers can give you that Old Europe feel. Using a variety of sizes or cuts of naturally durable stone, we can create the rustic look you’re craving.


Wood is a versatile choice for a natural look. Different types of wood give off different feels, and we can help you choose the right wood for your project. We’ll also teach you how to best care for your wood hardscapes once they’re installed.

What is the Smartest Choice for a Minnesota Hardscape?

Choosing the best material for your unique property depends on a number of factors. The purpose of the hardscape, the style of your home, your overall landscape design, your personal taste, and your budget all influence the materials we recommend. Our design and installation teams are experienced in working with all these hardscaping materials, and we can help you make the right choice for your project.

While poured concrete might seem like an economical choice, we usually recommend interlocking pavers instead. Interlocking pavers are durable and much more attractive than plain, poured concrete. They can withstand such a beating that we even recommend pavers instead of asphalt when installing driveways. Pavers are more flexible, and they stand up well to Minnesota weather. They’re less apt to crack, which is a hazard here due to our constant freeze and thaw cycles. If the pavers are ever damaged, or if you’d simply like to make an aesthetic change, they are easily removed and replaced. The variation of colors, textures and even stamped emblems makes pavers a versatile, attractive and economic choice for most hardscapes.