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Hardscape is a popular landscaping feature, from retaining walls to patios and fire pits. These hard-working landscape elements aren’t going anywhere when you sell your home, and they can add beauty and function to your backyard.
A well-planned hardscape will help manage water runoff and erosion. It can also steer excess moisture away from your home’s foundation, preventing problems like wet rot and flooding. Visit https://vantaoutdoors.com/ for more information.
Hardscape is the non-living component of landscaping – think concrete, brick, and stone. It encompasses all your outdoor space’s hard, non-plant elements like patios, walkways, retaining walls, fire pits, and landscape lighting. It also includes features that direct water and manage the flow of rainwater like French drains.
Adding hardscape to your property is an effective way to connect your indoor and outdoor spaces. It can make your backyard a place to entertain friends and family or just relax after a long day. It can be as simple as a gravel path that leads through your garden or as elaborate as a full-fledged outdoor room complete with a grill surround, brick fireplace and gazebo.
The term hardscape has a reputation for being complex, but it’s really quite straightforward. Landscaping is often divided into two different categories: softscape and hardscape. Softscape is all the living things like flowers, grasses and trees while hardscape is everything else.
While some hardscape materials are more pronounced than others, most of them are meant to complement the soft elements in your landscape. They add structure and form to your outdoor space while balancing out the lush greenery around them.
A retaining wall is the most common hardscape feature, but you can also include pathways made from flagstones or brick pavers and decks built from wood or composite material. Even water features are considered part of a hardscape, although they’re typically not considered as functional.
In addition to the aesthetics of a well-designed hardscape, these features can be extremely useful. For instance, a well-designed pathway can lead you through your garden or to your mailbox without disrupting the natural vegetation in the area. Hardscape features can also help guide and channel water so that it doesn’t cause flood damage to your home or the plants in your yard.
Another great thing about hardscape is that it can be used in combination with softscapes to create unique and functional outdoor designs. For example, a shady grove of trees and shrubs near your walkway can provide some protection from the sun while a concrete patio provides a sunny spot to enjoy a meal or conversation with friends.
Luscious gardens, healthy lawns and beautiful stonework are an integral part of a well-rounded landscaping design. But there’s also a growing push for outdoor meeting, dining and relaxation spaces in both residential and commercial areas. This push has led to more interest in hardscape, which is defined as the non-living parts of a landscape, including walkways, patios and retaining walls.
The goal of hardscaping is to complement the organic elements in a yard, garden or park and create a balance between them. When done properly, the blend between hardscape and softscape is seamless and provides the space with definition, organization and structure.
Generally speaking, any hard material placed by human design in the landscape is considered hardscape. That includes anything from a poured concrete sidewalk to a wooden bench. While it might be difficult to visualize a concrete patio or stone walkway as a component of a comprehensive landscape design, it is important to consider the functionality and visual impact these features can have on the entire garden.
Functionally, hardscapes help keep urban environments running smoothly and efficiently. The modern city floor is covered in gratings for stormwater, sewer and drainage systems, tree grates, water-clearing trench drains, manhole covers, detectable warning plates and bollards, among others. However, bringing nature back into the city may mean moving these functional pieces from their traditional places and finding new ways to integrate them into the natural environment.
Retaining walls, for example, are often incorporated into the hardscape because of their functional use in holding soils in place on hills or slopes and separating soils at different elevations for erosion control. But they can also make a pleasing focal point in the landscape and can be designed with wood, stone or other softscape materials to add an aesthetic element.
Another way that hardscape is used is to provide accessibility to the disabled or elderly. This can be as simple as installing low-impact bollards or walls to protect pedestrians from vehicle impact, or it could include the use of permeable grating that allows rainwater to pass through and reduce surface runoff and mud flows that might cause problems with existing structures like foundations, basements or trees.
The materials used in hardscaping are varied and include wood, faux-wood (composite decking material), concrete, brick, pavers, loose stones (like pebbles, Mexican river rock and gravel) and solid stone slabs. Many designers mix and match these elements to complete the vision of transformational outdoor spaces that clients desire.
Wood can provide a beautiful natural look to a space and is often affordable. It is used for patios, walkways and retaining walls as well as pergolas and other structures. It is also commonly used for water features like fountains and ponds as it lends a peaceful feeling to the landscape.
Concrete is a long-time staple of hardscaping and comes in many forms. Polished concrete surfaces and tiles are a great option for modern industrial design schemes, while concrete slabs or unfinished concrete walls work nicely in more traditional approaches. Brick is another classic hardscape material that can be used in a variety of ways including walkways and patios. It is durable and works well with both contemporary and rustic designs.
Loose stones are used in a wide array of hardscape applications and can be quite affordable. They can create a very organic feel to the landscape and can be combined with other materials in a way that adds a unique and eye-catching design element to your garden. These stones are also used in stairways, borders, pathways and garden rubble.
Retaining walls are a common and useful part of hardscaping as they can be built to hold soil on sloped landscapes. They are also a good way to control erosion, especially in areas that may experience a lot of rainfall.
Other common and useful hardscape elements are curbs, driveways and parking lots. They help to direct traffic and make a more functional yard for activities. Curbs can also incorporate detectable warning plates to warn those with mobility issues of changing surface materials, such as from hardscape to grass or paved to dirt. They are an efficient solution for preventing accidents. Other site furnishings can also assist with directional traffic flow, such as bollards and signs that help define boundaries and guide people.
When you think of hardscape, you probably think of paved areas like patios, walkways and driveways. It also can refer to any type of non-living element you add to your landscape—things like retaining walls, sleeper walls and stairs.
The way you design and install your hardscape determines whether it enhances your landscape or turns into an eyesore. Fortunately, working with a skilled hardscape contractor can help you make sure the installation of your new project is successful and fits in seamlessly with the rest of your landscaping.
For example, it’s important to keep in mind that the color of your hardscape can have a significant impact on how it blends with your landscape and home. If you opt for a concrete paver, for instance, you may want to consider the color of your home or other surrounding elements to ensure your new patio doesn’t look too stark.
It’s also a good idea to take into account your lifestyle when you’re choosing which hardscape elements you want to install. For instance, if you want to entertain guests outdoors, a fire pit is a great option. It can create a cozy setting and make your outdoor space feel like an extension of your home.
A driveway is another common form of hardscape that many homeowners choose to install for aesthetic or practical reasons. A paved driveway can improve your curb appeal by adding texture and dimension to your yard while also serving as a functional pathway for vehicles.
Other hardscape options that can improve your outdoor living space include a pergola, outdoor kitchen or water features. These projects can be a great way to create a functional and relaxing outdoor oasis that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
It’s also important to remember that hardscape should be balanced with softscape. Too much hardscape can make your landscape feel cold and unwelcoming. Mixing in plenty of greenery and shrubbery can help make your hardscape blend in with the rest of your landscape and enhance your overall outdoor design.