What is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping Patio

Are you starting a landscaping project? If so, you’ve probably thought a lot about what plants you want and where you want them to go. However, have you thought about how you should design those garden plots around pathways and outdoor spaces?

The reality is that organic plant life is only half of any landscaping project. The other half is called hardscaping. If you’re here, you’ve likely been doing your research and seen that some contractors specialize in “hardscaping” while others focus on “softscaping.” What is hardscape design?

If you have these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started.

What Is A Hardscape?

Hardscaping is not a word many amateur gardeners use. In landscaping, it means pretty much what it sounds like. It refers to the use of “hard,” non-organic objects in landscape design. Most hardscaping materials consist of wood, stone or concrete.

The typical hardscape focuses on building the structures and pathways that support and complement the “softscaping” that consists of plants and organic elements.

What is hardscape construction?

Hardscape construction is the process of carrying out hardscape projects. This can be as simple as laying flagstones for a path or building an outdoor kitchen complete with electric appliances and plumbing.

Hardscaping vs. Softscaping

flagstone walkway leading to water fountain

Hardscape and softscape are critical concepts in landscaping. Like two halves of the same coin, they complement the whole. The key difference between hardscape and softscape features is permanency and life.

Softscape features usually include living florae and fauna. Plants can be transplanted or die and require replacement.

By contrast, hardscape features consist of elements like decks, patios and fountains that are inanimate. These elements are usually far more permanent. The design ideas behind these two approaches are also different.

Softscaping focuses more on appearance and beauty. However, hardscaping focuses more on usability and structural integrity. Of course, the beauty of hardscaping is also an important factor in the overall success of any landscaping project.

5 Common Hardscaping Features

When it comes to landscape design, hardscaping design focuses on a few common hardscape elements. Below, we’ve listed five of some of the most common hardscape features for landscaping projects. Which elements a homeowner will use depends on their personal preferences, physical space, and the weather conditions of their location.

1. Outdoor Fireplace

This is one of the most common hardscape features. A fire pit may be made out of stone blocks or metal. It can provide a great way for friends and family to get together and enjoy the outdoors.

By creating a permanent focal point in your landscape, you encourage people to go out and see the beauty of your flowers and plants more often. If you opt to construct a stone firepit, you can match it with a stone patio around it for even greater appeal.

2. Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchen with seating area

Take your cooking to the backyard! An outdoor kitchen is one of the more ambitious outdoor design elements in hardscaping.

However, it has many upsides. An outdoor kitchen keeps the mess and smells of cooking out of your clean home. It also makes it easier to entertain.

No more leaving the party to go inside and check on the food. You may also have far more space outdoors to customize your kitchen to your heart’s content.

3. Swimming Pool

Swimming pools are particularly popular in the warmer, southern regions of the country. Here, your outdoor living space can get quite hot. Pools can be a great way to cool off and enjoy the summer. Because they are so large, it’s important that their placement and design be complementary to the plants and other softscaping in your overall landscape.

4. Retaining Walls

Retaining walls may be the best example of both form and function. By holding up a sloping area with a wall, you can make an unusable area functional again. They also greatly improve the appearance of an area.

You could do this on a small hill that you can retain for gardening purposes or a larger slope. With beauty in mind so that they can curve around hills, creating interesting shapes and guiding the eye to key softscape elements and features.

5. Decks and Patios

Another extremely common use of hardscaping is for decks and patios. Decking may be elevated using wood or composite materials as well as concrete or stone. The right materials and design can both extend your usable space outdoors and increase the appeal of your landscaping project.

What are the best kinds of hardscapes for hot southern weather?

Hot southern weather can make going outside uncomfortable, especially if your landscaping is not designed with harsh summer sunlight in mind. Fortunately, you’re in luck. Below, we’ve listed the best kinds of hardscape design ideas for hot southern weather:

1. Covered Patio

Permanent shade structures are great for keeping your outdoor living spaces cool.

2. Light-Colored Paving

Lighter-colored flagstones will not absorb as much heat as dark ones. Look at the solar reflectivity index (SRI). The higher the score, the less hot the material will get because it’s better at reflecting heat from the sun.

3. Outdoor Fountains

Hardscaping Fountain

Water features can help to cool off outdoor areas. They can also increase the beauty and appeal of your landscaping.

4. Pergolas

A pergola is an excellent way to provide shade in your yard. This hardscaping design feature can perfectly complement softscaping elements such as climbing plants to provide a cool, enjoyable space even in hot southern climates.

How Hardscapes Increase The Value of Your Home

Hardscapes are permanent additions to the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your home’s landscaping. Features like swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits are attractive elements that can help drive resale value. One of the key elements in ensuring your hardscaping investments pay off is in their design.

Areas and focal points need to flow together in a direction that makes sense. The overall sense needs to be pleasing. If you can achieve that, you can be sure that your hardscaping projects will increase the value of your home.

The Experienced, Talented Designers At Oasis

Hardscaping is not simple. It’s important to factor this in at the very start of your landscaping project. You may want a specific featured area of plants.

However, do you have the paths and retaining walls necessary to support that featured area? You need contractors and designers who understand both the fine points of visual appeal and structural integrity.

Many hardscaping projects provide important support and architectural underpinnings for softscaping elements. Here at Oasis Landscapes and Irrigation, one of our core values is to always deliver uncompromising quality. That’s why our talented designers work with you one-on-one to ensure the design fits your style and overall needs. Contact us today to learn more!