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What is Hardscaping?

By Carrie Dixon, Blog Editor

Hardscaping example - stone walkwayWhen it comes to landscaping, there are two major categories. These consist of softscape and hardscape. Softscaping consists of the horticultural components of a yard, like flowers and shrubs. These things change and evolve. On the other hand, hardscape refers to “hard” aspects of the landscape. These include things like stones, gravel, gazebos, decks, and more. These items are unchanging and robust, which is the opposite of softscape.

Standard Materials Used in Hardscaping

Many of the materials used in hardscape are literally hard materials. For instance, concrete is a hardscape material. Others include brick, wood, stone, and metal. A project that relates to these materials and is focused on the landscape may be called a hardscape project or simply hardscaping.

Hardscape Projects

Many different projects are classified as hardscape. A list of some of these is below:

  • Brick patios
  • Concrete patios
  • Flagstone patios
  • Gravel paths
  • Masonry
  • Stone landscape steps
  • Stone retaining walls
  • Stone walkways
  • Wooden arbors
  • Wooden decks
  • Wooden fences
  • Wooden gazebos
  • Wrought iron fences

While it might seem as if things like ceramic pots, garden gnomes, and other things would be hardscape, that’s not entirely accurate. While they are examples of hard materials used in a yard, they are not materials used to build structures or structures themselves that are projects.

Hardscape Water Features

Some water features are hardscape, as strange as that may sound. These might include fountains, pond parts, and pool features. Also, both hardscape and softscape can work together to make exciting projects. An example would be a koi pond built from stone with many water plants within.

Hardscape Project Difficulty

Hardscape projects typically require a dose of hard work. Most projects tend to occur during times of good weather, such as spring and fall. However, some people take on projects even in the winter. It relies heavily on the project scope whether something can be done in weather like this or not. For instance, a patio might be harder to construct than a fence in the winter. This is because of the potential for snow on the ground, which makes preparation more difficult.

If you are interested in starting a hardscape project but do not have the proper equipment, this can also be problematic. Some projects require only research and brute strength, but others may need heavy equipment which is pretty expensive. One way to ease this burden is by renting equipment from a store. Places like Lowe’s and Home Depot are excellent places to start your search.

It does take more than muscle to pull off a project, though. There are often creative aspects to hardscape projects. This might be incorporating a design into a patio or choosing a color scheme for a wall. It’s useful to have some creative tendencies along with physical strength or to share the project with someone who has strengths for your weaknesses.

Hardscaping is an excellent way to make use of your lawn without requiring constant upkeep. Where a garden of plants will need regular monitoring, once you’ve completed an iron wrought fence, you rarely have to think about it again. If you like the idea of these kinds of projects, you can find more in-depth instructions on the Internet for nearly any of them.