Hardscape refers to hard landscape materials in the built environment structures that are incorporated into a landscape. This can include paved areas, driveways, retaining walls, or any other landscaping made up of hard wearing materials such as stone, concrete etc. as opposed to softscape, the horticultural elements of a landscape.
From an urban planning perspective, hardscapes can include very large features, such as paved roads. Most water features are hardscapes because they require a barrier to retain the water, instead of letting it drain into the surrounding soil.
Hardscaping allows the erection of landscaping features that would otherwise be impossible due to soil erosion, or that compensate for large amounts of human traffic that would cause wear on bare earth or grass. For example, sheer vertical features are possible.
Without nearby bare soil, a hardscape with an impervious surface requires artificial methods of drainage or surface runoff to carry off the water that would normally be absorbed into the ground as groundwater. Lack of capacity can cause problems after severe storms.
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