Hardscaping vs. Landscaping

Your landscaper may use unfamiliar terms, such as hardscaping and landscaping, when you discuss plans for your outdoor living space. These terms can get tossed around and interchanged in your discussion. Understanding the meaning behind the jargon will help you create a better vision of your home’s landscape.

Landscaping and hardscaping are closely related, but they refer to two different processes and design elements. Your outdoor contractor uses both techniques to create functional and aesthetic components of your house’s terrain. When used together effectively, hardscaping and landscaping can significantly improve your home’s curb appeal.


What is Hardscaping?

The term hardscape refers to the inanimate elements of a home’s landscape design, providing the functional features of your outdoor space. The hardscaping process deals with pavers, rocks, wood, stone, bricks, concrete and other similar materials. In addition, contractors use patio covers, pergolas, decks and other similar structures for hardscaping.

Hardscape elements can also add accessibility to your yard. For instance, an outdoor pool will require decking, while patios work well with pathways and driveways. These elements also prevent soft muddy soil, which can degrade your lawn. Additionally, hardscaped features create protective boundaries that secure the structural integrity of your yard.

Examples of hardscape elements include the following:

  • Walkways
  • Trellises
  • Statues
  • Retaining walls
  • Pools
  • Playgrounds
  • Patios
  • Pagodas
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Gazebos
  • Gravel
  • Fountains
  • Fences
  • Driveways
  • Birdhouses
  • Benches


What is Landscaping?

Landscaping is also known as softscaping, which involves designing the living things in your home’s outdoor living space. With this process, your landscaper will use flowers, trees, plants, shrubs, and grass to transform your lawn. Landscaping provides the greenery for your home, which can produce inner calm, reduce stress and improve your mood.

Examples of softscaping elements include the following:

  • Vegetable plants
  • Ornamental plants
  • Trees
  • Soil and sod
  • Shrubs
  • Vines
  • Grass
  • Foliage
  • Flowers
  • Bushes

A landscaping specialist can combine aesthetic and functional features such as lining your driveway with a canopy of trees providing natural shade. However, there are several design considerations you should keep in mind when planning your yard.


Essential Hardscaping Considerations

Hardscaping provides several benefits aside from improving your yard’s aesthetics. Hardscape elements impact the look, flow and efficiency of your outdoor space, which are important aspects of landscaping service. They also improve certain aspects of your home’s outdoor space:

  • Pools, playgrounds, outdoor fireplaces, kitchens and patios add to your home’s square footage and create functional spaces for you to enjoy.
  • Hardscape areas tend to be relatively low maintenance.
  • Concrete and other similar materials are designed to last a long time.
  • Outdoor features in your yard, like patios, become natural extensions of your living space where people can gather and enjoy everyone’s company.
  • Hardscape features can reduce overall maintenance costs. For instance, when you add walkways to your yard, you’re reducing the area requiring landscaping maintenance since there’s less grass and other plants on concrete paths.
  • You create separate locations within your property when you add different hardscaped elements. These elements create structure and add flow to your home’s outdoor space.


Important Landscape Considerations

There are essential features you should consider with a landscape design. Plants, trees and other living elements of your yard require more attention and maintenance. You should also pay attention to how softscape features blend with hardscaped elements. Man-made structures in your yard are fixed, while plants and flowers can grow around them and change the overall look of your home’s exterior.

Here are some of the landscape elements you should pay attention to:

  • Landscaping elements soften the appearance of solid features such as decks, driveways, walkways and patios.
  • Plants, shrubs and flowers are seasonal, so you should choose the ones that match the time of the year and your area’s current climate. For instance, adding Spanish moss may be a welcome sight in some neighborhoods with plenty of precipitation, but low-moisture succulents are the better choice in dryer areas.
  • Talk to your landscaping service provider to help you choose the best plants and shrubs to create the desired aesthetics – combining the wrong plants can ruin the look and appeal of your lawn.
  • Softscaping elements grow and change as the months come and go. They make your home’s outdoor space more dynamic. You will need to replace the plants and flowers that dry up and go out of season.
  • When softscape elements of your yard blend well with man-made structures, they create an excellent extension of your living space.


Integrating Hardscaping in Your Landscape Design

Working with a seasoned landscaper will help create a comfortable and pleasing atmosphere. The goal is to create harmony between your home’s hardscaping and landscaping elements.

Your outdoor contractor can suggest different methods for combining architecture with natural elements. With professional help, every bench, table, fire pit and patio will be accounted for, and this can create centerpieces with supporting design features.

Here are some tips when you combine hardscaping and landscaping in your design:

  • Plan your hardscape pieces, considering the movement and changing features of plants and other greenery.
  • Pay attention to changes in the soil surface since it can also move and shift. These movements can ruin less durable materials. Some structures, like posts and foundations, should be constructed below the frost line, which improves their durability.
  • Create your landscape design according to the natural drainage in your yard. Do not place hardscape pieces in areas that tend to get flooded when it rains. Place plants and shrubs that need more water in those areas instead.
  • Use hardscape elements that can improve ground drainage, such as stone steps and retaining walls.
  • Retain a natural visual appeal by including rounded edges and curves in your design, combining them with the straight lines coming from the hardscape features of your yard.
  • Every hardscaping element should serve a purpose, which can make them a focal point in your landscape’s design.


Blending Function and Style for Your Home’s Landscape

Every home is different; depending on your space, certain factors must be considered in your landscape design. Your contractor will take into account the available work area, your budget and the local climate.

If you’re interested in the latest landscape designs that combine function and style, trust the experts from Faltz Landscaping. We are a multi-awarded landscaping company proudly serving the Anchorage community since the 1980s. Call (907) 349-4382 or fill out our contact form to request an estimate.