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What Is Hardscaping Landscaping?

Hardscape refers to the hard materials of the landscape of the urban environment that are integrated into the landscape. This could include paved areas, driveways, retaining walls, sleeper walls, stairs, walkways, and any other landscape made up of hard-wearing materials such as wood, stone, and concrete, as opposed to softscape, landscape garden features.


Hard landscaping involves projects that cover the entire yard and are necessary before soft landscaping features come into play. Hard landscaping is very much altering the foundation of the yard, the "bricks and mortar," and it is only after this has been completed that the landscaper can begin to focus on the most beautiful features of the yard, hard-soft landscapes such as floral arrangements, trees and shrubs, and perfecting color schemes. A main aspect of hard landscaping is the absorption of water – something that is of great importance considering the environment. Hard landscaping means that it is not a matter of concern for water after heavy rain or snowfall. The right water absorption and irrigation system built by hard landscaping, combined with hard materials that safely transfer water away from the house, will ensure that soil movement is never an issue and that the yard remains a drier, pleasant living space rather than a wet and muddy bog. There are soft landscaping options that can help to achieve this, but the bulk of this is achieved through hard landscaping.


From an urban planning perspective, hardscapes can include very large features, such as paved roads, driveways or fountains, and even small pools or ponds that do not reach a certain safe altitude. Most water features are hardscapes because they require a barrier to hold water instead of allowing it to flow into the surrounding soil. Hardscaping allows for the erection of man-made landscaping features that would otherwise be impractical due to soil erosion, including those that compensate for vast quantities of human traffic that would cause bare earth or grass to wear. Sheer vertical elements, for example, are possible.


Without nearby bare soil or natural drainage channels, swales or culverts, hardscape with an impervious surface includes artificial methods of drainage or surface runoff to extract water that would normally be absorbed into the soil as groundwater and avoid premature wear. Lack of capacity or poorly engineered or performed surface drainage or grading can trigger problems following extreme storms or heavy periods of rainfall, such as floods, washes, mud flows, sinkholes, accelerated erosion, wet rot to wooden components, drowning of plant trees and shrubs, and even problems with the adjacent house, such as the cracking of the basement, flooding of the basement as a result of heavy rainfall.


Hardscape elements can also define the use of a space, such as with a driveway, or it can lead visitors through different zones of softscaping, as with a gravel path that winds through a grassy area and into a secluded garden. There are so many ways to use hardscape elements to enhance your property:


  • Stone retaining walls create planting areas or convert a slope to flat yard space.

  • Concrete patios are the classic low-maintenance and versatile patio option.

  • Brick patios offer a more upscale and natural look than concrete.

  • Flagstone patios are the low-cost option for natural stone outdoor flooring.

  • Tile patios are a great way to dress up a concrete patio slab.

  • Stone walkways are ideal for garden paths.

  • Gravel paths have a "softer" alternative to brick, concrete, or solid stone.

  • Stone landscape steps have heavy stone slabs that make beautiful outdoor steps.

  • Metal fences include coated steel, which is the modern standard, but iron is still an option.

  • Wooden fences use the most versatile fence (and hardscaping) material—wood.

  • Wooden decks are hardscaping, too, just like patios.

  • Wooden arbors or gazebos enhance a landscape while providing shade.

  • Pergolas are arbor-like structures attached to the house or other building.

Are You Considering Hardscape for your Front Yard or Backyard? 

At DPG Pavers and Design, we’ve been providing our customers with specialized Landscape and Hardscape Design and Build services for over 30 years. DPG Pavers and Design, headquartered in Walnut Creek, California is the best curb-appeal and outdoor living space designer and installer in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Appearing on HGTV’s Curb Appeal and featured on Discovery Channel’s program Renovation Nation, our team of skilled designers and landscape engineers provides top-quality service and professionalism our customers love.  DPG Pavers and Design offers 2-D and 3-D conceptual home and landscape design plans that allow you to visualize your dream space and make that dream-concept a reality. If you are considering hard landscaping projects (like interlocking concrete pavers) that cover the entirety of your yard contact DPG Pavers and Design to schedule your free consultation today!

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