Hardscaping 101

How Hardscaping Adds Function to Landscaped Properties

When it comes to transforming outdoor spaces into new and functional places that add beauty and privacy, hardscaping is an essential design tool. Hardscaping gives your landscaping design a sense of permanence, seamlessly blending the outdoors with indoor comforts. Working with an experienced hardscape contractor will make your outdoor areas far more functional and aesthetically pleasing. Below, we’ll dive into what hardscaping is, commonly-used materials and concepts, and more.

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What Is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping generally refers to all landscaping components that are not living. While living features like grass, trees, flowering plants, and other flora and fauna comprise the “soft” aspects of landscaping, it often takes a significant amount of hardscaping to create a usable space. For example, a space with a huge garden is beautiful — but if it were around a deck or patio, it would probably be much more used and admired. The entertaining portion of your area usually happens within the hardscape or stone, pavers, or other materials. Hardscaping generally includes but is not limited to:

  • Retaining walls and fences
  • Sidewalks and walkways
  • Patios
  • Pool areas
  • Driveways
  • Decks
  • Gazebos and arbors
  • Large stones and stone formations

Hardscaping often serves to add outdoor living space. Without it, your guests would need to walk through the softscape, which could kill the plants and can be potentially dangerous for guests navigating uneven surfaces. Walkways and other hardscape designs make entertaining more practical and create a space that will last for years to come.

Hardscaping helps to define outdoor areas for getting in and out quickly (such as a driveway or walkway) and for hosting guests and relaxing in serenity (such as a gazebo or a deck). Hardscaping has the added benefit of helping to control drainage or water runoff to protect your home by pushing snow, rain and any meltwater to seek lower confines rather than flowing into your home.

Commonly Used Hardscaping Materials

Hardscaping materials are widely varied and range from extremely affordable to expensive. The hardscaping materials used and their relative costs all depend on what your hardscape design requires and how you want the elements to function within that design. The most commonly used hardscaping materials are:

  • Pea gravel, river rock, and loose stones
  • Large boulders
  • Brick
  • Wood
  • Composite decking
  • Concrete
  • Pavers and tile

A palatial outdoor space with lots of gardening, hardscaping and materials can be difficult to complete if you’re not an expert. Working with a landscaping design expert means that the hardscaping materials and design will meet your individual needs, all local codes, drain properly and last for years to come.

Commonly Applied Hardscaping Concepts

Retaining walls are among the most commonly recognized hardscaping concepts. They enable you to convert spaces into functional living areas and allow property terracing and other landscaping features. Retaining walls, lawn edging, gravel beds, patio areas, gazebos, and many other hardscaping elements can deliver a fully functional and attractive outdoor space. Retaining walls are usually heavily regulated, so it’s essential to work with a company that understands the codes and builds your retaining wall to meet all of the local rules and regulations.

A water feature is an excellent example of a hardscaping conceptual design element that can provide a practical use as well as aesthetic appeal. Experienced and talented hardscape contractors can install water fountains that recirculate the water source or that help to catch rainfall and runoff when the stormy season hits. A catch basin can trap water that gets distributed to a water fountain and used as part of the overall landscaping design.

You likely will use your outdoor spaces at any time of the day or night, and hardscape lighting will help to keep pathways properly lit. Hardscape lighting provides security by illuminating dark spaces, adds beauty by highlighting outdoor features, and makes it easier to come and go in all kinds of weather.

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Trust the Experts

If you are undergoing an entire landscaping projection to transform your backyard or other outdoor space, experienced hardscape contractors can give you accurate estimates on labor costs and an estimated time frame of completion. Contact the experts at Sponzilli to get your dream space started! 

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