If you've looked into landscaping, you probably also heard of hardscaping. But what is hardscaping? It's simply the inanimate part of the landscaping, encompassing structures made of stone, brick, concrete, or any other inorganic elements. Patios, stone fences, and fountains are all considered hardscaping. Hardscaping is a key part of creating a practical and unique landscape. It helps organize the landscape structurally and visually and can be functional, decorative, or both.
Hardscaping vs. Landscaping
Hardscaping and landscaping are often used in the same breath, and it isn't always clear what the difference is. Landscaping encompasses hardscaping, which refers only to the inorganic elements. The living factors are considered softscaping, and hardscaping is key in organizing and controlling the organic elements such as flower beds and other plants.
Residential hardscaping can change the entire feel of your home by adding functionality and curbside appeal. Designing your first project may feel intimidating, but it's feasible with the right hardscaping tools and the necessary planning. There are so many ways hardscaping elements can add to your home! Some critical factors to consider when beginning your planning are:
While many hardscaping projects can be beautiful in design and purpose, you'll need to consider their functionality. For example, you'll want to ensure the ground is level when putting in a patio. You should also make sure to consider your drainage plan. Nobody wants water pooling on their deck or rushing through a stone fence's foundations.
When planning a new hardscaping project, consider both the existing structures – hardscaping or otherwise – and any plans you may have for your landscaping. Hardscaping should complement the existing structures to form a cohesive look but should not impede any future project you're considering. Creating the ambiance you're looking for in your yard requires a birds-eye view, considering past and future elements.
Materials determine both functionality and aesthetics. Using durable, high-quality materials is crucial for structures to last. You'll also have to consider what materials your house, existing patio, and any structures in your yard are made of to choose appropriate materials for your new project. Materials shouldn't clash but rather complement each other and create a cohesive look.
The best hardscape workers take the existing natural environment into account. You'll need to understand any current natural features you're working with, soil quality, and expected weather patterns. In many climates, some shrubbery is visually pleasing and can provide the soil with structure. Hardscaping should work around and augment the natural landscape seamlessly.
Hardscaping can elevate the exterior of your home, providing the focal point of your yards or leading your guests through your softscaping elements. With all the tools available to hardscapers today, there are many projects within reach to augment your home:
- Patios, whether concrete, brick, or stone, are highly sought-after. Edging restraints ensure that your patio's edges stay in place throughout the year's weather cycles.
- Stone walkways can guide your guests through your yard and show off softscaping elements. Vacuum paver lifters help relieve some of the physical stress moving these heavy blocks and/or slabs around might take on your body.
- Gazebos provide shade and a space for socialization. They can also act as the focal point of your yard, and there are many opportunities for custom woodworking and decoration.
- Fences are some of the most versatile hardscaping structures: they can be made of wood, stone, or even iron. Choosing the right tools for your material is key to the success of your project.