There are several ways to use harsh landscaping to improve the livability of an outdoor space, including improving privacy, creating boundaries, leveling topography, providing shelter, and reducing lawn maintenance. For example, fences offer privacy and security. When effectively planned, hard landscaping materials can reduce potential erosion. By placing barriers in the form of stone or concrete in areas where erosion is likely, you can keep the terrain intact for many years to come.
Hard landscaping can include almost any type of decorative or practical structure in a landscape, from driveways to fences and benches. The hard landscape is a fundamental part of landscape design, as it provides definition and a sense of organization to areas and natural features. In a nutshell, 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. Hardscape is the term for hard landscaping materials. Concrete, asphalt, stone, glass, brick, metal and gravel are all hard terrain. In general use, hardscape means materials placed by human design.
The harsh landscape contrasts with soft materials such as vegetation and soil, which are known as softscape. Together, hardscape and softscape make up the landscape. The most effective landscaping begins with a study of the local climate. Arid climates demand a different landscaping strategy than tropical climates.
For areas that are regularly impacted by drought-based water use restrictions, building hard zones can help maximize the retention of available water. Careful hard landscape design can also compensate for areas that are less welcoming to vegetation while adding visual appeal.