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Blacktop – The Newest in Garden Hardscape

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Can you use black hardscape like asphalt for hardscape?

Well, you can use black hardscape for gardens. But the real question is should you use asphalt or other black hardscape for gardens? And just to clarify, asphalt is also called “blacktop” because, well, it’s black.

Here’s an unusual application for blacktop in a garden setting.

And, boy would I love to meet the genius who innovated using this hot stuff for sidewalks and patios. In other words, this is a highly designed location using black hardscape for gardens!

Blacktop hardscape sidewalk of asphalt

Blacktop sidewalk & lots of lawn

Worse yet, this bubbling hot asphalt was used as garden hardscape in Atlanta, GA. And that town’s called Hot-Lanta for the obvious reasons.

Why dark asphalt is not a good garden hardscape material…

Not only does the richly black surface of asphalt absorb heat, but it must also off-gas some pretty amazing toxins. And those could be really detrimental to pollinators, plants, and other living things. Plus, it might just be helping develop more non-permeable hardscape surface run-off issues.

Bee on Zinnia over blacktop

Bumble bee on Zinnia over blacktop patio

Plus, if you use black hardscape for gardens, you’re likely to burn your feet in summer. In fact, this stuff can actually bubble and melt in extreme heat situations. As well, when it gets really hot, roads made of asphalt can come to pieces. So why would you want to use this stuff in your garden?

What about using black concrete instead of asphalt for garden hardscape?

Yes, concrete can be stained black. And that might look nice as a black hardscape for gardens. As well, it probably won’t melt the way asphalt can. But let’s not forget how all that dark material must be helping build up heat islands in already too-warm cities. So that means the potential to add to global warming. And it means burning your feet in summer. Moreover, creating concrete and staining it also contributes negatively to the environment. So maybe consider skipping black hardscape for gardens.

Instead, it might be worth looking for something bright that will reflect the sun and not capture so much heat.

5 comments on “Blacktop – The Newest in Garden Hardscape

  1. Joy Buslaff on

    Never say never. Nature centers, like our local Retzer Nature Center, have paved asphalt pathways so those who must travel on wheels can enter a bit of forest and prairiescape that would otherwise be inaccessible. Another instance: Our home is a 146-year-old schoolhouse. As part of our restoration quest, we had the playground repaved last year for multiple reasons, including providing a “canvas” for the hopscotches I’ll be painting into the positions they held 50 years ago. What we changed, however, is some of the grading. The asphalt now drains toward a new swale to be populated by native plants.

  2. Chris on

    To me it looks like a colouered cement footpath. I don’t like the colour but we have used these types of footpaths in Aus for years. Lawns to the kerb look good and expand the size of the yard but these paths have advantages. It is level ground for the elderly (not everyone looks after their surface areas) without having to use the road, much easier for pushers (mums and kids that is) and safer for kids on bikes

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