Many homeowners are familiar with landscaping and associate the term with a well groomed lawn and a pickup truck full of men with great tans and dirt under their fingernails…they work for a living!
Landscaping is synonymous with cut grass, weedless flower beds, and pickup trucks parked out front once a week. Interestingly, landscaping and landscape design has taken on a whole new face. With the integration of hardscape design and hardscaping, as well as water feature design and creation, a full-service landscaping firm is about so much more than cut grass and weedless flower beds!
Interestingly, and particularly for the uninitiated, the term “hardscaping” or the phrase “hardscape design” may be as familiar as Swahili or Afrikans to the average property owner, commercial or residential, in the United States.
Hardscape design and hardscaping is a subcategory of landscaping that refers to the usage of inanimate objects in landscape design. As the subcategory implies, hardscape design and hardscaping refers to “the hard stuff,” components such as metal (i.e., iron), brick, stone, concrete, and timber.
Hardscape design is just that, the design process, creating a plan to integrate inanimate objects into a hardscape. Hardscaping includes patio and deck construction, the creation of a stone or brick walkways, stone wall construction, creating a wooden fence or gate, and so much more. The application of hardscape design and hardscaping is limited only by the design team’s imagination.
Significantly, hardscape design and its implementation, hardscaping, is not limited to large-scale undertakings. In fact, any metal, stone, brick, or concrete decoration integrated into your existing landscape is hardscaping.
When planning a big project from concept through design and on to construction, it is crucial to consider both hardscaping and softscaping elements. Creating the proper plan, considering all aspects of an intelligent, well thought-out landscape and hardscape design is crucial to its success.
A question that must be addressed early on is what comes first?
Do we begin with the hardscaping or the softscaping (the landscaping)?
In most cases, it is advisable to begin with the hardscaping elements because they are the easiest to work with. By beginning with the hardscaping, you lessen the risk of injury to the softscaping (the plants), which may be damaged or destroyed by the physical exertion required by most hardscaping projects.
When integrating hardscape design elements into an overall landscape design, many favor curved objects instead of straight lines. By recognizing how hardscape and softscape elements compliment each other, an aesthetically pleasing design is the end result.
Creating curved walls and walkways may soften the landscape, counteracting the harsh, straight lines offered in most housing construction, sidewalks, and driveways. Consider a curvilinear walkway or path of stone to break up an area and create visual interest. Consider a water feature, flower bed, shrub or tree line, balanced with just the right hardscape elements.
Creating a curving path or walkway will also allow you and your visitors to wander through your landscape, taking in and enjoying the experience and the view.
Balancing landscape design and hardscaping, along with water features, into a unifying theme and a complete presentation is the real value of a full-service landscaping firm. Understanding these elements and how to apply them is crucial to your landscape design firm’s success.