From driveways to fences to benches, hardscaping can include almost any type of decorative or functional structure in a landscape. Hardscape is an important component of landscape design because it defines and organizes natural areas and features. In this post, we will define Hardscape Landscape, as well as discuss design ideas and the distinction between Hardscape and Landscape.

What is Hardscape?

Hardscape refers to any non-living elements in your landscape design. These are the more difficult design elements in your space, such as concrete, rocks, bricks, pavers, stone, and wood, as the name implies. Hardscaping also includes man-made structures used specifically in landscaping, such as decks, pergolas, or patio covers.

What is Landscape?

The term “landscape” refers to all of the “soft,” or living, elements in your design, such as grass, plants, trees, and flowers. When used correctly, these elements can quickly transform your space into a calm and relaxing oasis.
As you can see, the distinction between the two is straightforward. Getting them to work together in your design, on the other hand, maybe a little more difficult.

Easy Hardscape Landscape Design

Here are a few landscaping ideas to get you started.

  • Bridges and walkways are examples of hardscaping. Walkways and bridges are man-made structures.
  • Effective hardscaping examples include fire pits. They make excellent substitutes for fireplaces or grills.
  • Set Stones are used in hardscaping. Stones are naturally occurring, but they are not alive. Softscaping occurs when moss grows on stone.
  • Hardscape elements include arches over walkways. You can use them to decorate gardens or fences. Even when vines grow on them, they are a simple and versatile type of architecture that can be considered hardscaping.

Hardscape Landscape

Numerous elements contribute to the overall design and feel of your outdoor space. Some soften and liven up your yard, while others add structure, hardscape vs. landscape. When properly designed and implemented, both create the ideal space for you to relax, entertain, and enjoy the great outdoors with your friends and family.

Understanding the Difference

Your landscaper or outdoor contractor may use the terms “hardscape” and “landscape” when creating and designing your landscape. But what exactly do those terms mean? Knowing the difference between the two can help you understand and visualize your landscaper’s ideas, and it may even inspire you to create your design. It will also assist you in knowing and comprehending how to properly care for your new space once it is completed.

Why Do I Need Hardscaping in My Yard?

Hardscaping your lawn is about more than just looks. It serves a purpose and is critical to the overall functionality of your outdoor space. When planning and selecting your hardscaping materials, layout, and design, keep in mind how they will affect the efficiency, flow, and appearance of your landscaping. Retaining walls and stone steps or paths can help level sloping or uneven land.

They can also help improve drainage and reduce runoff in areas that may flood more quickly. Stone, rock, and concrete can help dry the soil around them by absorbing heat from the sun. This can help to avoid standing water, over-watering, algae and mildew, and pests. Fences and gates give your home privacy and security. They delineate your property line and separate areas of your yard that you may want to use for other purposes.

When designed and implemented correctly, hardscaping also provides continuity from the inside to the outside of your home. Building an outdoor kitchen, deck, or patio creates and provides outdoor amenities that are comparable to those found in your indoor space. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit allows you to use your outdoor space well into the winter months. Having a usable outdoor living space encourages you and your family to spend more time outside and provides a great place to entertain and host guests.

Hardscape Landscaping Designs

The following hardscape elements necessitate the use of skilled hands. If you’re a beginner, and only you know, you might want to start slowly. Get some experience first, and then see if you can take on one of these projects.

  • Keeping A wall can completely transform a backyard. For your retaining wall, use repurposed materials such as railroad ties.
  • Fountains make excellent do-it-yourself projects. There are thousands of pre-made fountains available for purchase online, in-store, or from a contractor.
  • If you have the space, patios are a nice addition to your home or landscape.
  • Decks are large structures that protrude from a house. Decks are common over above-ground pools and provide a convenient way to enter the pool.
  • Swimming pools are classified as a type of hardscaping. They are one of the most expensive landscaping options.
  • Outdoor kitchen projects are time-consuming. There are numerous elements to consider and work with. Before you begin, make sure you have a plan and a budget in place.


Softscaping is a narrower field than hardscaping. The term “softscaping” refers to anything living. This includes any type of plant, but let us divide it into three broad categories.

  • Because trees are alive, they are considered softscaping. Softscaping includes trees that you plant yourself.
  • Plants are living organisms. They grow on walls or other hardscaping features, but the plants are still softscaping features.
  • Hedges soften the landscape because they are alive. A retaining wall made entirely of hedges is considered softscaping, whereas any other type of retaining wall is considered hardscaping.
  • Berms are dirt mounds that can be considered hardscaping, but they are used to plant plants, so they are considered hardscaping after they are finished. As a result, this is a hybrid of landscaping styles.

Hardscape Ideas

Try one of these projects to learn how to be a hardscape designer. They will help you achieve a beautiful yard. These projects take time to master, but they can have a significant impact on your landscape.

The majority of them have a basic and an advanced version. You simply need to determine how complicated you want your project to be and how much of it you want to be pre-made.

#1. Fire Pit

A fire pit is a simple hardscape addition that requires little more than a circle of stone to function. However, numerous types of fire pits can be built. They can be made of brick, stone, concrete, or another material.

The simplest type of non-store-bought fire pit involves digging down just enough to place firewood. The ring is then formed by burying and raising a ring of stone or brick slightly above the ground.

#2. Fountains

Fountains are easier to buy than they are to build. However, if you don’t build your own, you won’t be able to get that one-of-a-kind fountain that blends in with the hardscape landscape.

Creating a DIY fountain entails purchasing a fountain frame and building around it. You can bury it near where you can repair it and then decorate the outside with garden figures, pitchers, and stone.

#3. Retaining Wall

You can construct various types of retaining walls. These are not available for purchase outright. The majority of retaining walls are slightly shorter than a half-wall, but the size can vary greatly as long as it is not a full wall.
Construct a retaining wall from stone, brick, concrete, or CMU blocks. Wood or a strong repurposed material will suffice.

#4. Gazebo

Gazebos are small structures that allow you to relax in the open air. Typically octagonal, but any shape is possible. However, you might end up constructing a pergola or pavilion instead.

A traditional octagon gazebo is not easy to construct. Don’t give it a concrete foundation when building one. One option is to bury the pillars in concrete without putting up a roof. You can have the frame without the shade and still enjoy the space.

#5. Patio

A patio is a home addition and man-made structure that provides shade from direct sunlight. Patios are popular because they can be built in a single day and are less expensive than other outdoor structures.
Make a patio out of concrete or gravel. Just make sure you order the correct amount of gravel for your project to avoid wasting money. Gravel is less expensive.

#6. Driveway

A gravel or concrete driveway is constructed in the same manner as a patio. Either material is suitable. Gravel, on the other hand, is more adaptable than concrete. It’s like the understanding mother to the strict father you try to avoid at all costs.
The material is less difficult to repair. Begin with gravel when working on a hardscape project alone or with a team. If you hire a contractor, decide on the best option together.

#7. Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen necessitates extensive planning and construction. You’ll need to hire a professional contractor if you want to include a gas oven. The same is true if you want to install a sink or refrigerator. Plumbing, electricity, and gas connections should only be performed by qualified individuals.

#8. Pool Deck

A pool deck is a man-made structure that is constructed alongside a pool. The structure can also completely encircle the pool. Pool decks are constructed from wood, soft concrete, or vinyl planks.
Surfaces are non-slip and typically absorb water. A pool deck’s foundation.

Tips for Using Hardscape in your Design

  • Many homeowners like to match their hardscaping to the exterior of their homes. As a result, the two environments appear to merge seamlessly. If you have a stone on the exterior of your house, try incorporating it into your hardscaping.
  • Your hardscaping should always appear to serve a purpose. Create a focal point in the design process to draw the viewer’s attention. However, keep in mind that there should be places for the eyes to rest along the way. This is an excellent opportunity to make use of the softer aspects of landscaping.
  • Having too many straight lines in your landscaping can make it appear unnatural and out of place. It should feel natural, as if it happened by chance, while still being visually appealing. Include curves and rounded edges in your design to help break up the space and add some flair to your outdoor space.
  • Think about how your design will affect drainage in your yard. You don’t want your hardscaping design to flood or deprive your landscape of water. , for example,  Retaining walls and stone steps can significantly improve drainage in your yard.
  • If not built properly, natural earth expansion and contraction can destroy your hardscaping. Prepare for shifting and movement in advance. To avoid extensive damage to your materials, make sure to settle hardscaping below the frost line.
  • Don’t forget to incorporate greenery and shrubs wherever possible. A lack of landscaping and excessive hardscaping can make your space feel cold and unwelcoming. Including hardscaping in your landscaping helps it feel like it belongs there and is a part of the outdoor environment.

Hardscape Maintenance

Hardscape requires far less care and upkeep than landscaping. However, exposure to weather and changing seasons can be damaging to these surfaces. As a result, taking preventative measures and performing regular maintenance will greatly extend the life of your hardscaping materials.

Adding a protective seal to hardscape surfaces like wood fences, patios, and decks helps prevent cracks, chips, and other damage. A new coat of stain or sealant helps to renew and refresh the appearance of your outdoor materials. Filling in cracks between pavers can help prevent weeds and gap-widening moisture from causing additional damage.


Taking the time to clean up spills and messes will help prevent stains, extending the life of your outdoor features. Mold and mildew, for example, can not only stain your hardscaping but also be slippery and unsightly. Removing them will keep your family safe and your hardscaping materials in good condition.

Consider the tools and cleaning agents you use when cleaning your hardscaping. Many of your surfaces could be scratched or dented by wire brushes and heavy-duty scrapers. While using a pressure washer to deep clean surfaces like flagstone or concrete is effective, it may cause damage to composite decking or even wood. Take care when cleaning and treating your hardscaping surfaces.

What is an example of a hardscape?

Hardscape materials include concrete, asphalt, stone, glass, brick, metal, and gravel.

What defines a hardscape?

Any man-made structure within a landscaping design that is made of inanimate materials such as gravel, brick, wood, pavers, or stone is referred to as hardscaping.

What is the difference between hardscape and landscape?

Your lawn and gardens comprise your property’s landscape. Your property’s hardscape consists of your driveway, walkways, and patios.

What is the difference between softscape and landscape?

Hardscape refers to the hard elements of landscaping such as paving, walkways, and wall claddings, whereas softscape includes more living elements such as soil, trees, flowers, grass, and shrubs.

What is the difference between hardscape and masonry?

Masonry is the art and science of building structures out of stone, brick, concrete, and other solid materials, such as chimneys, walls, patios, and fireplaces. Hardscaping, on the other hand, refers to all of the landscaping elements made of these same solid materials.

What is the opposite of hardscape?

Softscape is the polar opposite of hardscape.

What tools are used in hardscaping?

  • Tape measure. 
  • Finishing trowel. 
  • Putty knife. 
  • Screwdrivers. 
  • Hammer. 
  • Paver mallet. 
  • Masonry chisel. 
  • String line.


A hardscape landscape project improves the appearance of your home. Anything is possible with landscape design. It’s possible if you can imagine it.

Most hardscape materials are affordable. Establish your property line before beginning a hardscape project. Nothing is more frustrating than starting a project only to discover that half of it is on your neighbor’s property.

You must consider how your hardscape project will affect the surrounding land. If water runoff will be an issue, consider creating a different outdoor design. Build a project with water absorption features to avoid water issues. This will keep problems with your neighbors at bay.


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