Everyone knows what a landscape is, and everyone knows what landscaping is. But what is hardscape? Also known as hardscaping, your hardscape basically is everything in your landscape design that isn’t living. As in anything that isn’t turf grass, a shrub, a flowering plant, or a tree. While the term isn’t used very often, that living stuff in your landscape is sometimes referred to as softscape.
Anything made with concrete, stone, pavers, metal, or wood is considered part of your hardscape. Those elements are generally fixed in place. Now if someone asks you what is hardscape, you know the answer.
Hardscape design should complement your overall landscape design. Ideally, you can work with one company that does both, to achieve a seamless process with a distinctive design. This also helps ensure an aesthetic balance between your landscape elements and your hardscape elements.
Hardscape design elements include:
- Walkways and pathways
- Retaining walls
- Outdoor kitchens
- Outdoor fireplaces
- Fire pits
- Garden walls
- Inground pool and pool deck
- Water features
- Light posts
- And more
To avoid runoff of chemicals into the local streams, and thus protect the Chesapeake Bay, you may want to consider a porous (or permeable) hardscape material for your driveway and walkways. They’re easier to find than you might think.
Options include pea gravel or natural stone for walkways, and permeable pavers for driveways. There are even new types of concrete and asphalt that allow the water to drain through, rather than puddle, or runoff.
You can learn more about replacing old concrete and asphalt with permeable solutions in the Chesapeake Bay Trust Pavement Removal Fact Sheet. In some areas, you may be eligible for a rebate by replacing impervious surfaces with permeable pavement, or by planting vegetation instead. You may want to check with your city, county, or even state.
Hiring Hardscape Contractors
While there are some hardscape projects you might tackle yourself, in most cases, you will want to hire hardscape contractors. The materials are heavy and unwieldy, and you want a professional, elegant looking result. Just like you would with any service provider, get recommendations from friends, family, and neighbors.
Which local contractors did they use? Did they have a good or bad result? Explore company websites to learn more about how long the contractors have been in business and how they operate. Check reviews and testimonials. Schedule a virtual consultation.
Even in times of social distancing, you can get this done. Decide who you want to work with and get on their build schedule. You’ll be enjoying your revamped outdoor living space in no time!