What Is Hardscaping?

By Updated January 24, 2024

Hardscaping involves creating a landscape design with materials that don’t naturally grow in your yard, such as brick, concrete, wood, pavers, and stone. Implementing hardscape features allows you to bring the most intricate landscaping ideas to life to create a beautiful environment and increase your property value. Our guide explores hardscaping elements meant to transform your yard’s aesthetic and functionality.


Hardscaping Elements

The purpose of hardscaping is to contribute to the beauty and ambiance of your space, improve its functionality, or both. Hardscaping can add excitement, versatility, and tranquility to your property. Many hardscaping elements can be installed in yards of all sizes. 

Decks

Decks provide a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces. A deck is a versatile area for relaxation, entertainment, and outdoor gatherings. Common types of decks include the following:

You can customize your deck with built-in seating, lighting, planters, and even an outdoor fireplace.

Fences

Fences define boundaries, create visual interest, and serve as a backdrop for landscaping features. Fences can be aesthetically appealing and serve functional purposes. Consider the following fence types for function and beauty: 

Fences can also act as a frame around your property, accentuating different landscape areas and enhancing your home’s curb appeal.

Patios

Patios create additional outdoor living space for relaxing, cooking, working, and other activities. By opting for a sliding patio door installation, you can add more functionality to the area. Types of hardscape materials to consider for your patio project include the following:

Patios are cost-efficient. They typically cost less to install than decks and don’t require as much maintenance. If you live in a cold or rainy climate, consider adding a roof over your patio or installing a patio heater

Retaining Walls

The main purpose of a retaining wall is to hold back soil and create level surfaces. It serves both functional and aesthetic purposes by preventing erosion, managing slopes, and creating more usable space in your yard.

Retaining walls can add depth and dimension to your outdoor space, creating terraced levels to plant landscaping. Retaining walls can be constructed with concrete blocks, natural stone, or bricks. The goal is to complement your landscape design. 

Walkways

Walkways provide functional access throughout your space while adding visual interest and structure. Consider the following materials for your walkway:

You don’t have to stick to only one material for your walkways. Each one can have a unique design, and you can even mix materials in one walkway. For example, your walkway could have gravel between flagstones to create more visual interest.


Water Feature Hardscaping

Water features don’t just turn your yard into a relaxation oasis; they can also create a special microclimate that keeps your property cool during hot summer days. These water feature hardscaping elements can help maximize your outdoor experience.

Fountains

Fountain types include freestanding fountains, birdbaths, and wall fountains. Depending on the material you use, a fountain can add different style elements to your outdoor decor.

Fountains enhance your hardscaping efforts by creating a focal point, adding soothing sounds of flowing water, and promoting a serene ambiance.

Ponds

A pond can elevate the aesthetics and functionality of your outdoor area. Ponds are a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Popular types of ponds include the following:

Ponds attract wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, and add a touch of nature to your hardscape design. They can easily be incorporated into your overall hardscape design, especially if you add a few stepping stones to your pond that match other hardscaping features, such as your walkway or patio. 

Waterfalls

A waterfall creates an unforgettable experience for people of all ages. Children love watching the water cascade down while adults enjoy the relaxing sounds. You can explore several waterfall types:

Implementing a waterfall into your backyard decor increases the aesthetic appeal of your property and provides soothing ambient noise.


Installing Hardscape

Many hardscaping projects can be completed yourself. Adding walkaways, laying patio pavers, and installing mini ponds is possible over a weekend. If you want to install a birdbath, grab a few simple tools to create a stable surface on the ground. If you want to line your walkways with rocks, you just need a shovel and some enthusiasm. Simple projects such as these are unlikely to increase your property value significantly, but they can improve your outdoor experience.

If you are embarking on a complex hardscaping journey that involves digging a pond, installing a gazebo, or building retaining walls, consider enlisting professional assistance. A professional architect can help with the design, planning, and execution of your hardscaping project.


Our Recommendation

Hardscaping projects can add significant value to your property while improving your outdoor experience and your yard’s aesthetic appeal. They can enhance the functionality of your outdoor space, support your landscaping design, and become an object of admiration for your guests.

While you can tackle smaller hardscaping plans on your own, larger projects often require the help of a professional. We recommend hiring a professional landscape architect to help you bring complex hardscaping ideas to life.


Hardscape FAQ

What’s the difference between hardscape and softscape?

Hardscape involves adding to the landscape non-living elements, such as stones, metal, and tiles. Softscape includes living features, such as greenery, trees, flowers, grass, and soil.

What are the benefits of hardscaping?

The benefits of hardscaping include improved aesthetic appearance, higher property value, and better yard functionality.

What’s the difference between a landscaper and a hardscaper? 

A landscaper designs your outdoor space using both living and non-living features, while a hardscaper focuses only on adding non-living features to your landscape.

Does a hardscaped yard add value?

A hardscaped yard can add value to your property, especially if features are professionally designed and installed. You can expect a 20% to 30% return on investment for many hardscaping projects, according to Angi.com.

What is an example of hardscape?

Examples of hardscape include walkways, patios, fire pits, retaining walls, and pergolas.