What is Landscaping?

Landscaping can mean many things, depending on the type of work being done. The aim of landscaping is to change part of the land to improve its aesthetics, viability, value and livability. There are two main types of landscaping: hard and soft. Hard landscaping is the installation of things like patios, heaters, ponds and pathways. Soft landscaping deals with planting and caring for a garden. Any work using natural materials and not involving construction is known as soft landscaping. In each of these two broad categories, there are many styles of landscaping. This article will aim to go through them, giving you an idea of exactly what a landscaper does, and what they can do for you.

There are four key types of landscaping work which a contractor can carry out:


        Design only – Working on the plans and drawings for your garden

        Design and building – Providing designs as well as implementing them

        Installation – Implementing new landscaping features with or without designs

        Maintenance – Trimming / cutting grass and trees, and keeping plants healthy

Landscaping Design

An often overlooked part of landscaping is the planning and design work that goes into it. There are many things that landscapers must consider. Every project that they undertake will be unique to the space it is designed for. This means that a landscaper has to consider the proportions, style and dimensions of the area they are working with. Symmetry, proportion and repetition are just a few of the design principles that a landscaper may incorporate into a project.


The type of landscaping that will be carried out always depends mainly on the style of the garden:


        English Gardens – Involve lots of shrubs and perennials, as well as decorative features

        Oriental Gardens – Include well-trimmed evergreens, lots of decorative elements and water features

        Woodland landscapes – Need less maintenance, but lots of attention to detail to create a living ecosystem

        Formal landscaping – Involves lots of strait lines and lots of maintenance

        Informal landscaping – Provides lots of creative agency, zigzag patterns and unique elements


        Cottage Gardens – Includes lush, colorful plants and an overgrown look, but uses lots of water and regular maintenance


The most common type of soft landscaping is gardening. The style of your garden will dictate exactly what type of gardening will be carried out. Some gardens require constant trimming and weeding to maintain a well-finished look. Other more natural styles require a more holistic approach, balancing and selecting the species of plants in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem. Soft landscaping may be employed to improve the environmental footprint of a garden. Either by reducing water runoff and evaporation, controlling temperatures, or by reducing erosion. There are more immediate reasons for landscaping too, for improving the privacy of a garden, reducing noise pollution or by increasing wildlife. Landscaping can also involve changing the terrain, by adding or removing hills, adding banks and changing the topsoil. This can be vital for certain types of garden, or features. Paths and walkways don’t always have to be made of stone, there are many types or plants such as Creeping Blue Mazus, which can help to achieve a natural and integrated pathway without installing hard features. If you are not keen on hard landscaping features and don’t want to install a path, grass steps can be implemented to create a softer and more organic feel in any garden. If you want to grow vegetables, existing spaces can be put to use to create a practical and homely outdoor space. Landscaping contractors can help to design your outdoor space to integrate vegetable patches and growing areas. If you already have raised beds, a landscaping contractor can help you to create the perfect combinations of plants for maximum year-round appeal. Landscapers are experts at working with native plants to create a flower-bed best suited to the environment. Combining many different plants is an art-form, because not all species work well together. Another popular choice is to install green roofs. Plantings which can thrive on top of existing structures and help to fill out a space with visual appeal.


Structural installation is a very common type of hard landscaping. This can mean anything from water fountains, pergolas, to raised flooring and gazebos. Water fountains require complex electronics and water pumps, while patios generally require the installation of foundations and concrete. A landscaping contractor can help you with both. The best gardens often provide a focal point which acts as an anchor of the attention. This may be a water feature, statue or a tall tree. Other installations can then provide symmetry and order to the space, making the garden feel bigger, as well as being much more visually appealing. Lighting plays a key role in any garden. While soft landscaping involves working with the natural elements to improve light access, hard landscaping often involves adding artificial lights to improve the look and feel of an outdoor space, as well as to improve safety at night. Lighting can help to accentuate certain elements or a garden, highlight walls, or illuminate key features. Another common installation is pathways and steps. While they can in some cases be classified as soft landscaping, they are generally made up of stones and cement. Topiary gardens and shaded patios are another mainstay of the landscaping world. They provide outdoor spaces which can be used all year round. Shade many be added naturally using trees and bushes, or by installing umbrellas. On the more expensive end, gazebos and pergolas may be installed to provide the perfect level of cover. Hard landscaping may also involve working with rocks, building retaining walls or rock gardens. Rocks can create a natural and layered environment by allowing the landscaper to work with different levels. These features can make a huge difference to the aesthetics of a garden.   An ever-more-popular outdoor landscaping request is for kitchen gardens. A permanent oven or BBQ can be the perfect centerpiece to an outdoor living space. This may be combined with screens or walls to create separation, or for protection from the elements. These can be combined with outdoor seating spaces to create a comfortable and livable outdoor environment.

Landscaping comes in many forms, and there are many types of features and installations to consider. It’s best to talk to a landscaping contractor before planning a new installation, as they will be able to help you with planning and design. Contact us today to receive a free consultation and quote!