Decks, Patios, and Hardscaping

Decks, Patios, and Hardscaping:  Building the Ultimate Yard

Many homeowners would love to have an outdoor space that reflects their taste and lifestyle as much as their home. Few additions to a home have the visual impact of a new deck or patio surrounded by one-of-a-kind hardscaping. These exterior elements not only frame the home but provide a space to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Both decks and patios provide comfortability and function, but each has its own unique advantages depending on the application. Hardscaping and softscaping are often integrated into a new outdoor project to add visual interest and accentuate the natural features of the lot. Combining these features often creates a project greater than the sum of its parts, and creates an outdoor space that is inviting, attractive, and built to last.

What Is the Difference Between Decks and Patios?

Both decks and patios serve the same basic function, so what makes them different from each other? Generally speaking, decks are constructed from wood and are elevated above the ground. In contrast, patios are usually ground level and made from poured concrete. In most situations, a deck will be located in the rear yard away from the street, while a patio will often appear on either the front or the rear, depending on the design of the home.

What Is the Difference Between Landscaping, Hardscaping, and Softscaping?

Landscaping is a general term to describe the outdoor features of a residence.  Typically involving both hardscaping and softscaping projects, landscaping is used to create an outdoor space that is aesthetically pleasing and useful. This also helps prevent soil erosion and often adds the finishing touch to a beautiful home.

Hardscaping is a term used to describe the addition of “hard” features to a landscape, such as sidewalks, retaining walls, paving stones, water features, and even patios and decks. Hardscapes often require very little maintenance and help establish the theme of the landscaping. For instance, a Japanese-style garden may incorporate common hardscape features such as ponds, bridges, and water stones, while a desert-style hardscape may use more decorative gravel and rock features.

Softscaping is usually designed with hardscaping in mind. These projects involve adding plants, shrubs, and trees to landscaping to create a space that is relaxing and visually appealing. Adding softscaping can also help disguise underground utility boxes, meters, and other home connections that tend to be close to the street.

What Are the Advantages of Building a Deck?

Decks are versatile, easily repaired, and can be adapted for nearly any lot. They tend to fit best on building lots that slope because they usually sit atop posts that can be cut to fit both the home and the lot. Decks can be open or include some form of covering such as an awning or permanent roof. Building a deck also tends to be affordable, often making larger projects more attractive.


Generally, a deck can have multiple uses. Decks can be used for gatherings, or just a quiet spot to relax. A deck can provide a place to cook, eat, or just have fun. They can be ground-level, multi-level, or even multi-story. Technology has advanced in recent years to include materials that stand up to the elements while providing years of outdoor enjoyment. Decks are great for:

  • Backyards
  • Uneven Terrain
  • Multi-story Homes


Decks are usually built from either naturally rot-resistant or pressure-treated lumber. Because decks are usually exposed to the elements, building them from these materials greatly extends their useful life. However, eventually, a deck will need some attention. In modern construction, this can mean anything from a fresh coat of sealer to replacing damaged boards. Because decks are so accessible, making small repairs or just doing regular maintenance is simple.


Decks provide an outdoor space that is inviting, comfortable, and customizable. Due to their simple design, decks can be built in essentially any configuration to maximize the potential of both the home and the landscaping. Although decks are often rectangular or square, they can be almost any two-dimensional shape. Ovals, circles, half-circles and even trapezoid shapes are possible. This provides the designer with nearly limitless opportunities for creativity.

Decks are generally supported by posts, which can make adapting a design around an obstacle simple because the design creates a space underneath the deck. This can be handy when an obstacle such as a spigot or HVAC compressor is in the way. Decks can also be built with future expansion in mind, such as adding another level or changing direction. Decks can be easily modified to use hidden fasteners, composite decking, solar-powered lighting, and built-in seating.

What Are the Advantages Of Building a Patio?

Patios are useful, cost-effective, and very adaptable. Generally, patios can be built anywhere the ground is suitable for concrete. Concrete requires a stable, compacted subsurface that will provide consistent, even support. Patios are great for main entrances because they can be circular, square, or any shape in between. Some designs incorporate a roof, which comes in handy when searching for keys in the rain.  Patios are great for:

  • Adding Visual Interest
  • Increasing a Home’s Value
  • Design Creativity

Many Uses

Patios are one of the most useful additions to any structure. Due to their location and design, patios get us out of the mud and can provide shelter while we look for our keys. Patios are often connected to driveways, providing an elegant path to the front door. Because patios are completely customizable they can also provide shelter by adding a roof or awning.


Patios are generally very cost-effective to build because the costs are often directly proportional to the size. This makes budgeting for a patio quite simple and accurate. However, it should be noted that some lots may require additional prep work before installing a patio, so these costs should also be considered.


Patios are essentially concrete pads, which often means they can be built to accent the home, conform to unusual shapes, and be decorated with other features like tiles. This ability to conform allows patios to fit nearly any application. Patios can be essentially any shape, which provides the designer nearly unlimited creative opportunities.

Can I Use a Deck and A Patio Together?

Absolutely. Many homes have a patio that is either the wrong size, wrong shape, or just in the wrong place. Often this problem can be corrected by adding a small deck that lands on a patio or ascends from the patio. This not only corrects traffic flow but also adds to the visual interest of both by creating a multi-level space. To add design flair, tiles or other decorative flooring are often added to the patio’s surface. When matched with tinted deck stains, the result is often a beautiful integration of functionality and style.

Patios can be found essentially anywhere around a home, but the most common location is at the front or rear entry door. Some patios will have a roof, while others may not. Patios can be attached to a home, or completely separated because they do not depend on the home for structural support. This makes patios a versatile and convenient addition to most home styles.

Patios tend to be more permanent features, and are often the focal point of the front of a home. Patios can be covered or uncovered, but most will have some form of roof, such as a covered stoop over the front entry door. Patios require much more support than decks due to the weight of the concrete. This makes a patio an attractive option when the ground is flatter and void of obstacles.


What Are the Advantages of Hardscaping?

Adding hardscaping to a yard adds visual appeal, reduces yard maintenance, and can solve grade problems. Because there are no hard and fast rules, hardscaping can be adapted to essentially any outdoor space. Hardscaping elements are often the focal point of any landscaping project, and typically define the theme of the yard.  Hardscaping is great for:

  • Small or Large Yards
  • Using Items At No Cost
  • Creative Freedom

Visual Appeal

Hardscaping uses the contour of the ground, and stationary elements such as stones, pavers, and fountains to add visual interest to an otherwise basic yard. Hardscaping often defines the theme of a yard by integrating specific elements like pergolas, winding paths, and fountains.

Reduced Maintenance

One popular benefit of hardscaping is reduced yard maintenance. Hardscaping is usually designed to include physical barriers to weeds and unwanted grass. This also reduces the amount of watering needed, making hardscaping a sound investment.

Solves Grade Issues

One of the most useful benefits of hardscaping involves directing water away from troubled areas. Hardscaping can integrate features such as a french drain to alleviate pooling water and erosion caused by inadequate grading. Other elements of hardscaping, such as retaining walls and stonework can then be used to shape the yard into a work of art.

Why Choose Precision Exteriors?

Experience and Expertise

At Precision Exteriors, we have the experience and expertise to turn your drab yard into a beautiful feature. With over forty (40) years of experience in the Maryland and Delaware area, we know our market and what our clients expect. Our experience with all things exterior has provided us with the knowledge and skill to do the job correctly the first time, without excuses. We work closely with our customers to deliver what they want when they want it.

Attention to Detail

Our customers appreciate our passion for quality, honesty, and professionalism. Our technicians are carefully selected for their skills, commitment to safety, and professionalism. At Precision Exteriors, our number one goal is to set ourselves so far above our competition that our clients won’t even consider hiring another contractor. We’re also customers, and we appreciate being taken care of. In other words, we want to not only earn your business, but keep it.

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We want to be your first choice any time your home or yard needs a facelift. We attract the best technicians in town and we prove it by giving every customer our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.  Every customer will receive our best efforts regardless of the size of the project because customer service is our top priority.

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