Transforming your yard into an outdoor living space is a big project to undertake. Make sure you understand the industry jargon before you begin. Knowing what’s what will help you understand concepts that are presented to you and may even give you the confidence to come up with your own designs.


Do you know the difference between “hardscaping” and “landscaping”?  You probably already have an idea of what “landscaping” is. But “hardscaping”? Why do they call it “hardscaping”?

The Difference Between Hardscaping and Landscaping

Even though people sometimes use the terms interchangeably, they’re not the same thing. These two elements do, however, work together to create yards with a polished, professional look. The creative, intelligent blend of hardscaping and landscaping is why people hire landscape designers in the first place.

So, what’s the difference and how do these two concepts work together?

The easiest way to define the difference between hardscape and landscape is this: one is inanimate and the other is alive and grows. Can you guess which is which? Here are examples of both, with short descriptions of how each functions to create the outdoor living space of your dreams.

Hardscape Examples and Uses

Hardscapes are the non-living components of landscape design. They can be things that are moved into position (like boulders) or man-made structures (like pergolas).

  • Hardscaping Examples 
    • Patios
    • Outdoor fireplaces
    • Outdoor kitchens
    • Retainer walls
    • Walkways
    • Decks
    • Pergolas
  • Hardscaping Materials
    • Pavers
    • Flagstones
    • Rocks
    • Concrete
    • Wood
    • Bricks

Landscaping Examples and Uses

We’re all familiar with landscaping – the living plants that grow in your yard. They require ongoing maintenance and upkeep, while hardscaping elements are permanents and require less maintenance (cleaning from time to time).

  • Landscaping Examples & Materials
    • Gardens
    • Grass
    • Shrubs
    • Vines
    • Flowers
    • Trees

What Hardscaping Does for Your Landscape

From stone steps to retainer walls to terraces, hardscapes break up your landscape and make it more appealing, more livable, or more useful. They provide structure and balance to an otherwise organic and living outdoor space. Hardscaping brings civilization to nature, which is the basis for great landscape design.

Here are a few examples of what that looks like.

  • Hardscapes make slopes interesting or more useful. For example, a grassy hill or slope is nice, but it can be a little boring. Adding terraces creates a sloping garden and a visual element of height that bring your yard alive with textural interest and tons of new spots for plants.
  • Hardscaping also transforms a large, flat yard by creating distinct “zones”. Using pathways, destinations, and “rooms”, a good landscaper can create a natural flow in the yard using design techniques.
  • Hardscaping creates outdoor living spaces, thus extending the livable square footage of your property.
  • Hardscape elements should reflect the style of your home.
  • Hardscaping plans should be carefully drawn up and professionally installed. Hardscaping is akin to the blend of architecture and interior design that goes into creating a beautiful home.

What Landscaping Does for Your Hardscaping

If hardscape is solid and permanent and structural, landscaping is softer, changeable, and organic.

  • Where hardscape elements like patios and outdoor kitchens have straight lines and hard edges, landscaping provides balance with organic shapes that grow and change. Think shrubs mixed in with your outdoor kitchen structures. Think vines climbing your pergola or plants lining your driveway.
  • Landscaping blends the different areas of your property for a cohesive, polished look.
  • Landscaping requires maintenance in order to avoid a jungle-like overgrown mess.


Knowing the difference between hardscaping and landscaping is the first step toward achieving the outdoor living space of your dreams. But knowing what each term means is only the beginning. If you need help with ideas on how to blend the two and create a harmonious design, we can help. Give us a call any time and we can talk shop!

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COVIS - Hardscapes Contractor