In landscape architecture, landscaping is essentially everything that is not vegetation. Harsh landscapes consist of man-made features that can use natural or artificial elements. The term hard landscape refers to all non-living elements in landscaping, such as a brick patio, a stone wall, or a wooden gazebo. It is one of the two main subcategories of landscaping, the other is softscape.
Softscape are all the living, organic elements of a garden or lawn, such as trees, flowers and lawns. Think tough landscaping, as its name implies solid materials, rugged surfaces, and durable installations meant to last for years without tarnishing. Popular residential landscapes include things like decks, patios, outdoor stairs and steps, walkways, driveways, garden walls, fire pits, terraces, edging, and outdoor lighting. You may have seen the unusual word “hard gardening” or “hard landscaping” while looking for information on lawn maintenance or design.
In a nutshell, hard landscaping encompasses the permanent, hard attachments in a lawn design rather than “soft landscaping,” which is basically the living elements of your landscaping. Think of the contrast between the hard landscape and the soft landscape as “concrete and rock versus, in a nutshell, the hard landscape is any of the non-living elements in your landscape design. As the name suggests, these are the toughest design elements in your space, such as concrete, rocks, bricks, cobblestones, stone, and wood. Rigid landscaping also includes man-made structures, such as decks, pergolas, or patio covers that are used specifically in your landscaping.
Garden areas are a great way to add value and purpose to your backyard. While soft landscaping involves the use of plant material such as grass, shrubs, and trees, hard landscaping involves the use of stone, wood, and other materials to create solid surfaces and structures. By designing areas of your property, you increase functionality and create spaces where you can install furniture, have an outdoor kitchen, or even have a fire source, such as an outdoor fireplace. Harsh landscape elements can also define the use of a space, such as a driveway, or they can lead visitors through different areas of gentle landscaping, such as with a gravel path that winds through a grassy area and into a secluded garden.
Walkways can be built to connect your hard landscape areas, direct traffic from one area of the property to another, or direct people in and out of your home. Growing plants in and around a water source is a great way to integrate the hard landscape and the soft landscape within the same design. When properly designed and implemented, hard landscaping also provides fluidity from the inside of your home to the outside. Some harsh environment projects are too physically demanding to complete with manual labor alone, and others require heavy equipment.
The patio is the quintessential hardlandscaping space for your home, as it is usually the basis of everything you do outdoors. Landscaping really includes all of the permanent elements of the property, including sidewalks, driveways, gazebos, lawn trimmings, even streets and parking lots. Using landscaping and landscaping together in your outdoor space can create a visually appealing experience in your home. No matter what you have in mind for the harsh landscape of your Northern Virginia home, we'd love to help you start making your dream backyard a reality.