Landscaping is often divided into two broad categories: hardscape and softscape. Softscapes are made of living, growing things such as trees, shrubs, and grass. Hardscapes are items made of hard materials like rock, stone, and concrete.
Hardscape: In landscaping, items made of rock, concrete, brick, tile, stone, and other hard materials are collectively called hardscape. This is most evident with walkways, driveways, paths, stepping stones, stairs, and courtyards. However, hardscapes also include decks, patio covers, retaining walls, fences, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, and more.
Water Features: For the most part, elements that involve water (water fountains, waterfalls, waterways, pools & ponds) are called water features.
Outdoor Decor: Everything else can be called outdoor decor. These include lighting, sculptures, statues, birdbaths, birdfeeders, patio furniture, bubbling urns, potted plants, edging, and other moveable components.
There is some overlap in the categories so it is not important what category an element is called. Instead, the focus is on how well the components come together to make beautiful outdoor living spaces.
Hardscapes are necessary for business and home landscaping. Almost everyone will need a walkway, a driveway, a deck or a courtyard. Hardscapes are useful and easy to maintain. However, it’s important to avoid creating outdoor areas using hardscapes exclusively.
Hardscapes need to be balanced with softscapes and other features to create comfortable outdoor living spaces. Plants provide shade, color, and softens the overall look. Water features provide soothing sounds and promote relaxation. Not to mention, hardscape-only yards can very hot because stones, rocks & concrete absorb and retain heat.