What is: Hardscape Features

Hardscape features are an essential component of any landscape design. They refer to the non-living elements of a landscape, such as patios, walkways, retaining walls, and other man-made structures. These features not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces but also provide functionality and durability. In this glossary, we will explore the various hardscape features commonly used in landscaping projects.


A patio is a paved outdoor area that is typically used for dining, entertaining, or relaxation. It is usually located adjacent to a house and can be made from various materials such as concrete, stone, or brick. Patios can be designed in different shapes and sizes to accommodate the specific needs and preferences of homeowners. They often include features like outdoor furniture, fire pits, and grills, creating a comfortable and inviting space for outdoor activities.


Walkways are pathways that provide a designated route for pedestrians within a landscape. They can be made from a variety of materials, including concrete, pavers, gravel, or natural stone. Walkways serve both functional and aesthetic purposes, guiding people through the outdoor space while adding visual interest and structure to the overall design. They can be straight or curved, depending on the desired effect, and can be enhanced with lighting or landscaping elements to create a more inviting atmosphere.

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are structures designed to hold back soil and create level areas within a landscape. They are commonly used to prevent erosion, manage slopes, and create terraced gardens. Retaining walls can be constructed from various materials, such as concrete blocks, natural stone, or timber. They not only serve a functional purpose but also add visual appeal to the landscape, especially when integrated with other hardscape features and complemented by appropriate planting.

Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens are becoming increasingly popular as homeowners seek to extend their living spaces to the outdoors. These kitchens are equipped with cooking appliances, countertops, sinks, and storage, allowing homeowners to prepare meals and entertain guests in their outdoor areas. Outdoor kitchens can be customized to fit individual preferences and can include features like built-in grills, pizza ovens, refrigerators, and even outdoor bars. They provide a convenient and enjoyable way to cook and dine outside, making outdoor entertaining a breeze.

Fire Features

Fire features, such as fire pits and fireplaces, add warmth, ambiance, and a focal point to outdoor spaces. They provide a gathering place for family and friends, allowing them to enjoy the outdoors even during cooler evenings. Fire pits can be built in various shapes and sizes and can be fueled by wood, gas, or propane. Fireplaces, on the other hand, are more substantial structures that can be integrated into the design of an outdoor living area. Both fire pits and fireplaces can be constructed from a variety of materials, including stone, brick, or concrete, and can be customized to match the overall style of the landscape.

Water Features

Water features, such as fountains, ponds, and waterfalls, add a sense of tranquility and beauty to outdoor spaces. They can be designed to create a soothing atmosphere and provide a focal point for the landscape. Water features can be constructed from various materials, including stone, concrete, or fiberglass, and can be customized to fit the size and style of the outdoor area. They not only enhance the visual appeal of the landscape but also provide a habitat for aquatic plants and wildlife, creating a harmonious and natural environment.

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is an essential element of hardscape design, as it not only enhances the safety and security of outdoor spaces but also adds visual interest and ambiance. Lighting can be used to highlight architectural features, illuminate walkways and patios, and create a welcoming atmosphere. There are various types of outdoor lighting available, including path lights, spotlights, string lights, and wall-mounted fixtures. LED lights are commonly used due to their energy efficiency and long lifespan. Properly placed and well-designed outdoor lighting can transform a landscape into a stunning nighttime retreat.


Decking refers to the construction of a raised platform, typically made from wood or composite materials, that extends from a house or building. Decks are commonly used as outdoor living spaces, providing an area for relaxation, dining, and entertaining. They can be designed in various shapes and sizes, depending on the available space and desired functionality. Decking materials can range from natural wood, such as cedar or redwood, to composite materials that offer durability and low maintenance. Decks can be enhanced with features like built-in seating, pergolas, and outdoor lighting to create a comfortable and inviting outdoor living area.

Stone Walls

Stone walls are a classic hardscape feature that adds a timeless and natural element to outdoor spaces. They can be used to define boundaries, create privacy, or add visual interest to a landscape. Stone walls can be constructed from various types of stone, such as granite, limestone, or fieldstone, and can be built in different styles, including dry-stacked or mortared. They can be integrated with other hardscape features, such as walkways or patios, to create a cohesive and harmonious design. Stone walls also provide a habitat for plants and wildlife, adding ecological value to the landscape.

Outdoor Structures

Outdoor structures, such as pergolas, gazebos, and arbors, are hardscape features that provide shade, shelter, and architectural interest to outdoor spaces. They can be constructed from various materials, including wood, vinyl, or metal, and can be designed in different styles to complement the overall landscape design. Pergolas are open structures with cross beams and an open roof, providing partial shade and a framework for climbing plants. Gazebos, on the other hand, are fully enclosed structures with a solid roof, offering complete shelter and a designated space for outdoor activities. Arbors are smaller structures that serve as entryways or focal points within a landscape, often covered with climbing plants to create a whimsical and romantic atmosphere.

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor seating is an essential component of any hardscape design, as it provides a comfortable and inviting space for relaxation and socializing. Seating options can range from simple benches and chairs to more elaborate lounges and sectionals. Outdoor seating can be made from various materials, including wood, metal, or wicker, and can be customized to fit the style and color scheme of the outdoor area. Cushions and pillows can be added to enhance comfort and add a pop of color. Well-placed seating areas can create cozy nooks within a landscape, encouraging people to spend more time outdoors.


Driveways are hardscape features that provide access to a property and serve as a functional and aesthetic element of the landscape. They can be made from various materials, including concrete, asphalt, gravel, or pavers. Driveways can be designed in different patterns and colors to complement the architectural style of the house and the overall landscape design. They can also be enhanced with features like lighting, landscaping, or decorative borders to create a more visually appealing entrance. Proper driveway design and construction are essential for ensuring durability, functionality, and curb appeal.


In conclusion, hardscape features play a crucial role in landscape design, providing both functionality and aesthetic appeal to outdoor spaces. From patios and walkways to retaining walls and outdoor kitchens, these features can transform a plain yard into a stunning and inviting landscape. By incorporating elements such as fire features, water features, outdoor lighting, and seating areas, homeowners can create a personalized outdoor oasis that reflects their style and enhances their quality of life. Whether you are looking to entertain guests, relax in solitude, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, hardscape features are an essential component of any well-designed outdoor space.