What Is a Hardscape?

Most people understand the term landscape when they hear it, but the term ‘hardscape’ may not be as familiar to many who are outside of the landscape industry.

Within the landscape industry, there are two basic areas of a landscape design – the hardscape and the softscape. The ‘softscape’ would refer to the lawn and planting areas. The ‘hardscape’ refers to patios, retaining walls, walkways, driveways and steps. Basically any area where the earth has been covered by a solid material, generally made of stone, brick, concrete or some other solid material.

Hardscapes can be used to make a stable walk surface or driving surface that will not be so easily eroded as bare earth. A patio would be a hardscape which is used to extend your living area into the out of doors. Hardscapes can also include special features such as fire pits, fountains, outdoor fireplaces or an outdoor kitchen. Retaining walls would be an example of hardscapes being used to prevent erosion from a bank of soil or a hillside.

Materials used in hardscapes design and installation may be natural stone or man-made materials such as brick, landscape pavers, poured concrete or even asphalt. Hardscapes tend to be a more permanent aspect of your landscape design, once installed. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be removed or changed. It just will take a bit more demolition to remove these pieces than it would be to make changes to your planting areas.

A professionally designed landscape will incorporate both softscape and hardscape into the design in a way that flows naturally and fits appropriately with the property grade and building layouts.

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