Hardscape – it’s a term heard in garden centers, on home improvement shows, and in our favorite lifestyle magazines. Usually alongside beautiful photos of lushly landscaped backyards and outdoor living spaces. But what exactly does hardscape mean?
If we use the word ‘landscape’ as the overall term to include plants, grass, trees, water features, retaining walls, walkways – basically anything on the outside of a home – then there are two main categories of items that go into a landscape. Those items are either ‘softscape’ or ‘hardscape’. Softscape refers to the living materials – the plants, flowers, and trees. And you guessed it, hardscape refers to the non-living or hard materials used in landscapes.
Hardscapes are items built or assembled by hand. They are usually the foundation, so to speak, of the complete landscape, as the plants and other living materials are used to soften the hard edges. A well-designed landscape uses these two elements to create an appealing, functional space.
There are many types of hardscapes and many different materials available to create these features. Here are the more popular hardscape items:
- Water features
- Outdoor kitchens
- Fire pits and fireplaces
- Retaining walls
The choice of material is usually combination of durability, design, and cost. Most hardscapes are built using the following materials:
- Natural stone Concrete
- Wood Metal
To install hardscapes takes the following:
- Education on the installation procedure for the specific material
- Heavy equipment needed to move dirt and the new materials
- Specific tools for the material chosen, such as power saws, chisels, tile cutters, etc
The heavy lifting and grueling work required to complete an installation means most homeowners decide to hire installers. Professional installers also have craftsman-level skills, creating efficient methods and techniques to install efficiently and with style.