You’ve got the basics of how to plan and prepare your hardscaping project under your belt. You probably have ideas of what you’d like to build, where you’d like to build it and how much you’d like to spend.

Now let’s explore the full versatility in types of hardscaping projects and clarify some often-confused terminology — the difference between hardscaping, softscaping and landscaping — plus how you can tie them all seamlessly together. 

What Is Hardscaping?

Hardscaping refers to all the fixed, unmovable features of your home or property’s exterior.

Think of hardscaping as its name implies — solid materials, strong surfaces and durable installations meant to last untarnished for years. The most popular residential hardscapes include things such as decks, patios, outdoor stairs and stepping stones, walkways, driveways, garden walls, fire pits, terraces, edging stones and outdoor lighting.

What Is Softscaping?

Related but not quite identical, softscaping includes all the moveable, typically green designs and exterior detailing of a home or property.   

Think of softscaping as ornamental — the trees, flowers, shrubs and decorative enhancements that infuse the full spectrum of nature into your yard. 

What Is Landscaping?

Landscaping is the umbrella term for hardscaping and softscaping designs put together. Landscaping harmonizes both these projects into one.

Think of it like this: Softscaping is often incorporated into a hardscape’s finished product, but softscaping doesn’t necessarily entail a hardscape. The two elements combine to create the ever-popular art of landscaping.    

Types of Hardscaping Projects

There are over a dozen hardscaping projects, additions and features available to boost the look and feel of a yard. The major hardscape project installations and categories include:

  • Decks and patios
  • Courtyards and terraces
  • Fences and retaining walls
  • Edging stones
  • Walkways and paved paths
  • Arbors and pergolas

Each Major Hardscaping Installation Is Outlined in the Following Chapters

The best hardscape design ideas exist to amplify the ambiance and extraordinary beauty of nature. Continue through “The Ultimate Guide to Hardscapes” to learn how you can achieve this balance.

Each subsequent chapter features the in-depth, step-by-step process of a major hardscape installation project. Perhaps you have yours already in mind and are looking for specific planning, construction and development tips. Or, you’re getting ready to dip in your do-it-yourself toes, considering all hardscaping options to find what works best for you.

Check out the tools and materials, styling tricks and installation overviews below to realize your home’s dream hardscape.