Is Grass Passé? A Look at Hardscaping Your Grounds

When most people think of landscaping, they think of shrubs, trees, meticulously laid-out and maintained flowerbeds, and artful plantings scattered around a building or development. Landscaping doesn’t end with growing things, however; hardscaping is a industry term coined to describe non-plant-related landscaping; things like rock gardens, patios and outdoor kitchens, walking paths, terraces, and decorative wall elements.

Not only are plant-free landscapes an interesting departure from the more traditional bushes and shrubs approach but rocks and paving stones require far less maintenance than a tree or delicate flowerbed, and may represent an opportunity for cost savings.

Beyond Bushes, Transcending Trees

While the focus of landscape design is on the flora and fauna, the pavers, pathways and patios are just as essential to both the aesthetic of the finishing product, and, more importantly, the ability for residents to interact with the landscape. What good is a picturesque garden if you can’t walk through it?

Hardscaping is a specialization within the larger landscape heading. “Hardscaping is defined as any element of landscaping that is not plant material, which is called softscaping or greenscaping,” says Craig Naparstek, managing member of Rock Solid Hardscaping, LLC, in Baltimore, Maryland. “This includes decks, concrete, paver work, stone—anything that is physically hard” or non-organic.

“Hardscaping is the construction side of landscaping,” adds Brannon Seaman, owner of Seaman Hardscaping, LLC in Oxford, Pennsylvania. In this case, construction takes on a larger meaning; hardscapers have to be familiar with the use of materials, but also with engineering and architectural concepts such as drainage and storm water treatment. Hardscapers also work with water—what is sometimes called aquascaping. And it doesn’t hurt to know about the plants either; Naparstek has a degree in horticulture, for example.

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