When designing the landscape of your yard, you may have heard your landscaper talking about hardscape and landscape. Many would assume that they’re the same, but there are noteworthy differences between the two. Hardscaping and landscaping are two major elements of your landscape that, when incorporated together, can provide you with a garden that’s not only pleasing to the eyes but is also functional and efficient.
Read on to know more about each of these concepts and the difference between hardscaping vs. landscaping.
What Is Hardscaping?
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Hardscaping refers to the non-living aspects of your landscape, such as paved walkways, benches, pool features, or patios. It involves working with brick-and-mortar elements like rocks, bricks, wood, concrete, stone, and asphalt.
This includes manufactured constructions like pergolas, trellises, decks, and patio covers. Most of the time, hardscaping is permanent and unchanging in your landscaping. The primary aim of hardscaping is not aesthetics but functionality, such as providing additional space or ensuring structural integrity.
Usually, landscapers work on the hardscaping to set boundaries, define the shape, and finalize the overall artistic design of your backyard or garden.
Hardscaping can also help you gain a level of control over the environmental aspects of your design. For example, using gravel and mesh can avert or regulate water flow, while stone walls can help minimize erosion risk.
What Is Landscaping?
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Landscaping pertains to everything organic in your garden. Often referred to as the softscape, this aspect of your landscape works with living things like plants, grass, flowers, and trees — elements that can transform your backyard into your personal oasis.
The materials used in landscaping can all be removed, replaced, or altered depending on the season or your preference. However, you need more than landscaping to achieve a garden with structure and a theme. Using landscaping alone will provide you with a jungle-like garden full of foliage without a pattern or anything that can draw the eye.
Hardscaping vs. Landscaping: 4 Key Differences
#1. Materials Used
Hardscaping and landscaping work with entirely different materials. The materials used in landscaping are mostly, if not all, natural materials, such as different kinds of foliage rooted to the ground or transferred into planters or containers. These materials can be changed with the seasons or when the owner decides to revamp the overall look of their garden. Landscaping materials are thus temporary and can easily be replaced, altered, or removed altogether.
On the other hand, the materials used in hardscaping can range from the things you find in nature, like rocks and boulders, to commercial products like lattice fences, bamboo drapes, fiberglass planters, and more. These are all hard materials intended to be permanent or at least part of the landscaping structure that will remain for several years.
#2. Maintenance Needed
Maintaining your landscape is not easy, but it requires less effort when you have ample knowledge of the plants in your garden. Regular watering, pruning, and ensuring that your plants get their appropriate dose of sunshine and fertilizers will keep your landscaping elements thriving.
However, some plants also need more attention and it can get complicated to remember the different needs of different plants.
Hardscaping is relatively easy to maintain, but what makes it more challenging is the constant exposure to the external environment like changing seasons and the inevitable wear and tear. All these can eventually take a toll on the surfaces and overall appearance of these materials.
Regular maintenance and preventive measures, such as adding a layer of protective seal to your decks and fences to prevent chips and cracks or applying a sealant or stain to all outdoor resources, can help maintain your hardscaping.
#3. Functionality of Material
Landscaping primarily uses natural materials that aim to make your garden aesthetically pleasing. The choice of plants and flowers and the placement of this foliage are all intended to create a beautiful landscape. Landscape materials are thus mostly superficial, although one may also incorporate useful plants like eucalyptus or aloe.
Hardscape materials, however, are chosen to serve specific purposes and strengthen the overall structure of your garden. For example, your garden includes a fence to identify your property and ensure privacy.
Or a pathway made of gravel that is not just pleasant to look at but also helps improve your garden’s drainage and reduce soil acidity — all beneficial for your landscape’s growth. Each component needs to collaborate with the landscape materials. Given that hardscaping provides more flexibility, it is also where you can make adjustments so that the natural components of your garden can flourish.
#4. Techniques Used
Landscaping and hardscaping need completely different techniques since they both serve distinct purposes.
In landscaping, you need a more scientific approach and need to have at least some basic knowledge of botany. Some people are also blessed with a “green thumb” and are better equipped to maintain plants, propagating and supporting the growth of the plants the right way.
It’s also important to remember that each plant is different and has unique needs, such as floras that need direct sunlight, greens that are susceptible to rotting, and foliage that thrives in shaded areas. Having this knowledge can help you place your plants more strategically to boost their growth and survival, which will make your landscaping flourish.
On the other hand, hardscaping requires a more artistic and creative approach with in-depth knowledge about the materials used, such as the different kinds of gravel and types of wood, color schemes, different structures that can suit a garden, etc.
Hardscaping is more focused on ensuring functionality to make the entire landscape work.