What is Hardscaping?


Anyone who has any sort of interest in the appearance of their outdoor spaces probably has at least a cursory understanding of what landscaping is.  Basically, it’s the activities and processes involved in altering an outdoor area to make it look more appealing.  But fewer people know that landscaping can be broken down into two distinct landscaping modifications: hardscaping and softscaping.  In this article we’ll concentrate on hardscaping.  What is hardscaping and how can you use it to your advantage when planning your outdoor spaces?

What Is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping refers to the non-living elements involved in landscaping.  This is opposed to softscaping which refers to the living elements used in a landscaping project.  By this definition hardscaping can mean structures such as garages, sheds, pergolas, gazebos and pool houses.  It can mean solid surfaces such as patios, decks, sidewalks, pathways and steps.  Hardscaping also refers to vertical structures such as retaining walls, fences, trellises, planters, arbours and archways.  Hardscaping can even refer to water features such as fountains, ponds, pools and waterfalls.

How To Use Hardscaping To Your Advantage

There are several different reasons to add hardscaping to your outdoor space.  Some of them might be functional, such as a patio, fence or sidewalk, whereas others might be purely aesthetically pleasing such as a water feature or archway.  Some hardscape features will be a mix of both functionality and aesthetics.  Below are just a few of the benefits of adding hardscape elements to your landscaping project.

Reduce Erosion

On a purely functional scale, hardscaping can be used to prevent the loss of soil due to rain, runoff or other factors.  Retaining walls are often used to keep earth in place when it’s exposed or found on a slope.  Embedding hardscape elements into the ground can also reduce erosion and add stability to loose soil.

Add Texture

Hardscaping can also be used as an aesthetic modification by adding texture and dimension to an otherwise flat piece of land.  Hardscaping can allow you to create lines, levels, edges and focal points to your outdoor space.  

Add Beauty And Function

Some hardscape elements add both beauty and function to an outdoor space.  A well laid patio, a winding pathway or a shade-creating pergola can make your outdoor space more user-friendly while also adding beauty and aesthetic value.  


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