What’s the Difference Between a Hardscape Company and a Patio Contractor?

What is a landscaper? What is a hardscaper? And what are the differences? Once you start looking into topics like patio construction and outdoor kitchen installation, you will likely run into these two terms. And, if you’re someone who hasn’t ever worked in this industry, they might feel confusing. In fact, we are often asked what the difference between a hardscape company and a patio contractor actually is.

The answer isn’t as solid as you might expect. To help you understand why – and what it means for your home renovation project – I’d like to share some insights based on my 20+ years of experience in the patio contracting business.

Let’s start with the simple difference between landscaping, hardscaping, and patio construction…

 

A Hardscape Company Takes on Bigger Projects

The big difference between a hardscaping company and a landscaping company is that the hardscaper takes on bigger projects. In addition to installing pools and patios, they might level ground, hook up utilities, or deal with granite and other types of stone.

Landscapers usually don’t handle such a wide range of work. They will typically handle smaller jobs like planting trees or maintaining lawns. For instance, a landscaper might show up with shovels and rakes, whereas a hardscaping company might use heavier equipment like excavation equipment and CDL trucks. That’s a simplification, of course, but I think it’s a helpful visual for homeowners who are just learning the terms and are trying to find the right company to work with.

The distinctions aren’t always clear, but you can just remember that the “hard” in hardscaping equates to tougher, more complex projects.

 

Patio Contractors Use Different Terms for the Same Things

Knowing the difference between hardscaping and landscaping might make it easier for you to talk about your project, but it won’t necessarily help you choose the right patio contractor. That’s because lots of different businesses use the same terms interchangeably.

Most of the time, this isn’t because they don’t know the difference themselves. Instead, it’s because they have learned (as we have) that homeowners will look for a “landscaper” or “patio contractor.” Very few of them will ask for a hardscaping company, even if that’s what they actually need.

The fact that customers in the industry don’t know these terms makes it difficult to market our services in a precise way. Technically, much of what we do in my company would fall under the category of hardscaping. Making space for outdoor pools and waterfalls, building stonework, or clearing degraded concrete are all big jobs. But homeowners don’t know the special term for this work so they refer to it as landscaping.

In the same way, some smaller and less experienced companies will say they do hardscape on their websites. That’s usually because their customers have heard the term somewhere, making it an important marketing buzzword.

Knowing all of this, it’s a good idea to not worry too much about what a business calls itself, or which services they list on their website or brochure. Instead, you’ll want to talk your project through with them to ensure that they can provide the kind of planning and care you need to bring your backyard to life.

In fact, when it comes to finding the differences between landscaping, hardscaping, and patio installation, there is really one role that’s more important than all the others.

 

It’s All About Your Vision for an Outdoor Space

When you hire a patio contractor it’s not because you want landscaping or hardscaping – it’s because you have a vision for what your outdoor space should look like and how you want to spend time in it. It’s best to keep that at the front of your mind when you evaluate different companies and bids.

Rather than focusing on the scope of the project in terms of equipment or definitions, ask yourself questions like the following:

  • How large is the area I have to work with, and what condition is it in?
  • What features are important to me? Do I want a patio, a fire pit, an outdoor kitchen, a pergola, or something else?
  • Will the area need to be cleared? Will utilities need to be installed?
  • Does this feel like a massive design and build project, or just a couple weeks’ worth of manual labor?

Once you have a sense of where you fall with these answers, it can be easy to meet with design professionals and find the right fit. Either they’ll have the tools and capabilities to meet your needs or they won’t.

Try to think ahead as you consider the process that is still to come. Sometimes patio installation projects get bigger and more complex as they go. This often occurs during the design phase when the homeowner starts to get a sense of what is possible. Seeing what can be done is often eye-opening, particularly when you have someone with experience transforming outdoor spaces taking a look at things with you.

For that reason you might be better off working with a patio contractor who has hardscaping experience and capabilities when it’s possible. That way, you can be sure they’ll have the skills needed to finish your project. And, they’ll be able to help you in the event you decide to think bigger, or if you run into unexpected challenges.

 

Looking for the Best Patio Contractors North of Boston?

The Stefano’s team has experience with patios, pools, outdoor kitchens, tennis courts, and just about any other feature you could imagine. Even better, we have the kind of portfolio and case studies you would expect from a service-based business.

If you’re located north of Boston, nearby the Saugus, Massachusetts, area, we want to talk with you about your patio renovation project. Contact us today to arrange a free visit and consultation. There is no charge or obligation, but it could be the first step toward getting the outdoor space of your dreams.

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