Path paved using bark mulch and flagstone stepping stones. Photo credit: wormwould Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Small backyard patio garden in Colorado minimizes water use by using xeric plants and no turf. Space between pavers allow for water penetration and drainage.
A hardscape is any area where materials such as concrete, asphalt, gravel, wood, or bark mulch are used. These hardscape areas can be aesthetically pleasing and provide a base surface or outdoor 'floor' that defines distinct areas in the landscape.
Using the right materials in the right place in conjunction with appropriate plants can minimize water use.
Materials such as asphalt and concrete, however, do not allow water to penetrate into the soil and can contribute to runoff. Pollution in excessive runoff water from streets, parking lots, and driveways can lower ground water quality and cause erosion.
Turf areas can be converted to hardscape using a variety of materials to create or enhance entryways, patios and decks, and paths. Make sure sprinklers are set to water only planted areas.