What Is Hardscape?

Wondering what is hardscaping and why you should care? Well, without it, your home's landscape will never look complete. They add both style and functionality.

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Wondering what is hardscaping and why you should care? Well, without it, your home's landscape will never look complete. They add both style and functionality.

Hardscape is simply all the non-living items and fixtures within your home's landscape. The process of building and installing these elements in your yard is known as hardscaping. These objects can be anything from erected statues and birdbaths to built-in swimming pools and outdoor barbecue pits.

In this article, you will learn some differences between hardscapes and softscapes and why they are so important to the overall look, feel and function of your yard space. We will also discuss six different ways to maximize your hardscape features.

Some of the information in this article comes from online sources found through my research. But some are my own personal observations made as I recently watched my neighbor give his landscape a makeover by installing hardscape features.

Table of Contents

What Is Hardscape and Why Is It Important?

With the popularity of home improvement shows featured on stations like HGTV and Paramount Channel, various aspects of landscaping have become just as popular over the years. Many landscape trends disappear quickly while others create such a buzz that they soon become fine-tuned movements.

One of these trends, referred to as hardscaping, has quickly become the craze of the landscaping industry for both professional and DIY landscape designers. Hardscapes are the inanimate objects located in your yard, be it the backyard or the front. They not only help to give your landscape a complete look, but they improve its functionality.

Hardscaping Explained

Landscaping is the process of making a piece of land, including a home’s yard, look more pleasing to the eyes. This is done by changing up the current design, planting shrubs, flowers and plants and adding decorative features.

Those features, the non-living aspects of your yard, are part of your overall hardscape. It includes the “hard” elements in your yard, or basically, anything that doesn’t have life. That means this does not include plants, which are considered “soft.”

Hardscaping, the art of adding hardscapes to your land, adds the finishing touches to your landscape. These hard features should bring value to your yard and your life while functioning as intended within your outdoor space.

Your Hardscaping Project

Hardscaping can be accomplished as a DIY project or you can hire a professional landscaper to get the job done. Either way, this is the perfect opportunity to create the home landscape you’ve always dreamed of having. The possibilities are endless.

Maximize your yard space by installing modern, up-to-date features when, where and how you choose. That’s right! You don’t have to add all your hardscape elements at one time.

Happen to be in a home goods store and spot the perfect patio table and chairs set for your finished landscape? Grab it, take it home and place it wherever you want. Just keep in mind that some hardscapes are permanent, such as retaining walls or customized built-in deck seating. So, think long and hard before making these types of long-term landscaping commitments.

The Benefits of Hardscaping Your Landscape

These are just some of the amazing benefits of adding hardscape features within your yard’s landscape design:

  • Functionality – A hardscape should always serve at least one purpose, even if it’s for aesthetic reasons
  • Aesthetics – Improves the look of your yard by adding various focal points
  • Erosion – Some features help to keep your soil from eroding over time, such as retaining walls and walkways
  • Property Value – Permanent hardscapes increase the value of your home, as well as its selling price by adding more usable space to the land
  • Enjoyment – Provides you, your family and your guests with more ways to enjoy your land while hanging out together in the yard
  • Comfort – Spend more time enjoying the sunshine and view of your beautiful garden by adding things like outdoor seating and lighting
  • Maintenance – The more hardscaping you do, the fewer areas you’ll have to mow, water and maintain every day

What’s the Difference Between Softscape and Hardscape?

What is hardscape? Simply put, it’s everything in your yard that you did not plant and is not a living thing. These yard features don’t need watering, fertilizing or require nurturing. Instead, they are the elements of your yard that offer value to your life other than feeding you.

What is softscape? These are the things in your yard that need oxygen and water to survive and thrive. Basically, they are the plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and soil that give your landscape life.

6 Ways to Maximize Your Hardscaping Project

To get the most out of your outdoor space, you need to maximize the space in your yard. That means also maximizing your hardscaping. Here are six tips to help you do just that when designing your overall landscape:

1. Purpose

Every hardscape element you build and/or install in your yard must serve a purpose. Never add any type of hard feature just to be able to say you own it. Once you decide you must have a particular hardscape element, concentrate on making it look amazing in your yard.

2. Compliment

Even though you want your hardscape to stand out, it should also complement your home’s design. For example, your yard will look the opposite of harmonious and seamless if you add funky, 70s-style outdoor décor to a Victorian-style home.

3. Drainage

Some hardscape materials help with your home’s drainage system, such as pebbles and gravel. Add these types of features to the landscape to ensure that you don’t flood your yard as time goes on.

4. Natural Look

Straight lines can make your landscape look artificial and boring. Integrating curved edges with the overall design can make the yard look much more organic. However, there are no rules here. It’s your yard. Design it however you like.

5. Growing Crops

Add hardscapes that help you maximize your softscapes. One of the most common ways to do this is by building and installing raised beds for growing your own food within your outdoor space.

6. Balance

Without both hardscaping and softscaping, your landscape is incomplete. You must have a balance of both to improve the look and function of the yard.

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