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What is Hardscape Landscaping?

Types of hardscapes to create a visually appealing outdoor experience

Published: 2022-12-28 08:41:15

Everyone wants to have a picture-perfect yard – it’s basically part of the American dream by now. As much as you might like to think a yard will magically turn itself into an attractive and enviable outdoor space, it usually takes a lot of thinking and planning to execute a successful landscape design project.  

Landscaping can generally be broken down into two categories: hardscape and softscape. The term “hardscape” refers to the non-living, man-made elements of a landscape, such as pathways, gazebos, and decks. The opposite word, “softscape,” means organic, living elements like shrubs, bushes, and trees.  

One thing many of the most attractive landscapes include is a combination of both hardscape and softscape. It’s all about achieving a proper balance of these two components. This post gives you a better idea of what hardscape elements might look like for your residential or commercial property.  

While live elements tend to vary with the seasons, artificial elements provide consistent structure to your outdoor space. They are also usually much more durable. Hardscape pieces are meant to withstand intense weather like wind, snow, rain, and ice.  

Hardscaping functions as a desirable option for both residential and commercial buildings. A quick look at some types of hardscapes best for both, which are expanded upon below are:  

  • Walkways and pathways: Helpful for directing the flow of traffic and keeping softscape elements safe  
  • Retaining walls: Decorative and functional borders intended to keep plants and land in place  
  • Decks, patios, and courtyards: Gathering and meeting places for visitors and guests to engage with each other  
  • Water features: Elements incorporating the contained use of water in forms such as a fountain or pond  

Read on to discover more detailed examples of how you can transform your residential and commercial space by adding hardscaping.  

What is Hardscape Landscaping in Residential Properties?

Adding hardscapes in a landscape design provides definition, promotes a sense of organization, and increases curb appeal. Many people want the outside of their home to have the highest aesthetic value for many reasons. They can also add monetary value to your home because of how long they last.  

There are tons of ideas for both simple and intricate design projects. If you’re looking for inspiration or clarity on what hardscape can do for you, here are some options for how to involve some classic hardscaping elements in your home landscaping:  

Fire Pits

An outdoor fire pit is always a crowd-pleaser during gatherings in the colder months. Fire pits can be installed in the backyard for an intimate getaway right outside your back door. There are many options for types of fire pits available for purchase, including wood burning, propane, gel fuel, and natural gas. Each kind can offer a uniquely relaxing experience for both you and your guests.  

Walkways

Walkways can be crafted from various materials, including gravel, stone, brick, and concrete. A walkway in a home's front, side, or backyard can offer an inviting welcome. In the front of a house, the walkway is the first thing a guest sees when visiting. See if you can tie the design for the walkway with the home's overall strategy. Live near the beach? Try out a seashell walkway!

A contured walkway can also allow for traveling through various parts of the yard or garden without trampling any unnecessary plants or grass.  

Retaining Walls

These fixtures offer structure and elevate a yard. These structures can be made of brick, stacked stone, or other materials. Functionally, they are built to act as a boundary, keeping a piece of earth in place. Retaining walls also look lovely to complement different hardscaping and soft scaping materials.  

Gazebos and Pergolas

A pergola is an arbor-like structure. A pergola, arbor, or gazebo can provide shade while improving the image of a home landscape. These come in various shapes, sizes, materials, and themes. They also allow for cooling shade during outdoor summer gatherings with friends and neighbors. Leaving these in place permanently and allowing plants like vines to grow around them is a great way to incorporate both hard and softscape components.  

Decks and Patios  

Decks and patios are friendly and welcoming ways to use hardscaping around the outside of a home. A back deck will be more of an investment than a front patio. A brick or tile patio will offer a more upscale, formal look than a concrete or flagstone patio.  

Water Features

A stone waterfall can provide a sense of movement to a backyard or garden. Water features can add an element of tranquility that cannot be achieved with any other form of hardscaping or softscaping landscapes.  

Fences

A fence is a great way to increase your home's privacy, create a space for pets, or add a piece of hardscape design. A wooden or metal fence can update or rejuvenate an existing hardscape design or be the first of many additions you choose.  

Driveways

A driveway gives a path for your car onto your property. They can be made from concrete, asphalt, brick, stone, or gravel. Many homes already have a driveway when they’re bought, but it's not uncommon for people to redo or remodel their driveway for either functional or aesthetic reasons.  

What is Hardscape Landscaping for Commercial Properties?

Though many people might readily associate the two together, hardscaping is not only reserved for residential properties. First impressions are especially important to businesspeople. Office buildings and other commercial spaces also benefit from hardscaping work outside. Of course, a beautiful lawn should be a priority.  

Hardscape elements will also improve the outside look of your business. Hardscape elements also lower landscape maintenance because it takes less upkeep than softscape. Here are some functional and strategic ways to use hardscaping to enhance a commercial or business space:  

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are load-bearing walls that help contain stormwater runoff, which can be an issue for commercial properties. These borders also create a distinct perimeter around trees, flowers, and hedges.  

Pathways

Use paths and sidewalks to direct the flow of foot traffic on the property. These paths can also prevent people from walking over the grass, which will protect it and keep it maintained longer.  

Patios and Courtyards

Patios and courtyards promote camaraderie at the workplace by giving employees a place to gather at work outside the office. Both patios and courtyards don’t take too much effort to maintain, making them a low-effort way to make a significant design impact. A seating area for those working in the building or potential clientele can put everyone in a good mood before returning to work. Adding some chairs for sitting and umbrellas for shade and comfort is a simple way to add additional value to people coming through your area.  

Water Features

A fountain or pond can be a visually appealing addition to any commercial space. Even a small fountain or sculpture fountain offers an elegant detail to the front of your office space. It can also act as a peaceful respite for people to visit during a hectic workday. Both stone and ceramic fountains make great picks for outside the workplace. Accessorize by using signage and statement rocks to make it the focal point of your commercial landscaping.  

Final Thoughts of Hardscape Landscaping

Now that you better understand how hardscaping works, it’s time to put those ideas into practice with a landscape design job. The first step is to brainstorm a plan. It’s important to think big and keep your budget in mind.  

Hardscaping will typically cost $5-$25 per square foot. Completing a project can generally cost anywhere from $300-$30,000 to complete.  

Some hardscaping projects are easily attainable via DIY. It’s possible to create a stone path or raised plant bed for $2-$10 per stone. Try researching and watching videos online on achieving your desired results on a budget. For other projects of any more extensive scale, it's best to leave things to the professionals. Many will work with you to help you to design based on your inspiration and budget.  

Try matching the hardscape to complement the exterior of the home or building or matching it with the overall theme. If your home is modern, stick with a contemporary look outside. If your business services are more traditional, use a classic approach to your hardscape strategy.  

Depending on how much thought and care you want to put into the property, hardscaping may or may not be necessary. If you’re more passionate about flowers and trees, sticking with softscaping could be enough to satisfy your landscape design bug.  

If you choose to pursue a softscaping approach, leave room for plenty of greenery, as too much hardscaping can make a space feel cold and unwelcoming. A combination of both landscaping components creates the key to the greatest-looking property.  

The most important thing is to have fun and create a space you don’t want to leave.  

For other ways to spruce up your residential or commercial space, check out these offerings to see what Heroes Lawn Care can do for you.