What's a Hardscape, You Ask? Here's an Overview
"Hardscape" is a term that refers to all of the inanimate elements of landscaping. This can be especially applied to any masonry work or woodwork. Hardscaping is one of the two major subcategories of landscaping, the other being softscaping. If you've guessed the meaning of the second one by a contrast, than you know what we're talking about now!
So by the definition, the "hardscape" terns is related to any structures built using such hard materials as:
- Wood (even though wood was once animate)
Usually, when an exterior design team gets a new project, it gets divided into these two default parts - which separates the scope of softscaping works from the "hardscaping."
The following types of the exterior design are typically considered to be a part of the hardscaping process:
- Stone retaining walls
- Concrete patios
- Brick patios
- Flagstone patios
- Tile patios
- Stone walkways
- Gravel paths
- Stone landscape steps
- Wrought-iron fences
- Wooden fences
- Wooden decks
- Wooden arbors
- Wooden gazebos (picture above)
- Masonry and/or wooden pergolas
Naturally, you may be asking us:
"But what about other outdoors accents such as ceramic pots, garden gnomes, and, yes, those tacky pink flamingos?" To be precise about the terminology here, all these are examples of inanimate elements, but which are all part of the landscaping.
However, the term "hardscape" is typically reserved for structures or for that are used to build structures.
Hard Water? Yes, Even some Water related Features can be labeled a Hardscaping elements.
While this terminology may be somewhat counter-intuitive, be mindful that even water features placed in your yard count as hardscape. These structures take on a variety of forms, both with and without fountains. The fountains that are included in the category are:
- Stone fountains
- Ceramic fountains
- Inexpensive DIY fountains
- Clay pot fountains
In small yards, the pool portion of these water features often consists of a rigid-plastic liner (that is, a pre-formed liner). On larger properties, a nice alternative is the flexible liner made from rubber (those composed of synthetic rubber are more durable). With flexible liners, you can shape your pond according to your own design aspirations.
An interesting fact - cultivating plants in and around a water feature, such as a fountain is a way to converge a hardscape with a softscape. A small pound surrounded by some tress can serve as a great example of such a marriage of landscaping and hardscaping
Working on Hardscape Projects
No pun intended, but planning and assembling the hardscaping elements can really be a hard work.
Even if weather conditions are fitting, these projects can be downright tiresome and meticulous. That is the reason why most homeowners choose a period of a smoother weather (spring or fall, or during the least hot weeks of the summer) for taking on such complex outdoors works.
However, neither weather nor anything else stops design professionals (and hardy folks, in general) from undertaking certain hardscape projects even in winter. But does it make sense to do it in the winter, though? While the winter hardscape projects can vary greatly, as noted by professional mason and former Landscaping firm owner, Karl Norton. As an example, Karl notes that a project with a horizontal positioning (such as a patio) would be tough enough to be completed during the winter. Also, taking all the preparations in regard to the terrain is very important for such projects. Though wintry conditions are not conducive to such preparation.