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These involve the structure of the soil, land, and how  water flows across it.

Landscaping involves the  placement of soil and pants and drainage issues.

Hardscaping involves all of the above plus the placement  of steps and other structures outside the building, such  as stone walls, concrete or brick patios, tile paths,  wooden decks and wooden arbors would all be  considered part of the hardscape. But by extension,  anything used in landscaping that is not part of the  softscape can be considered a hardscape element,  including home accents such as water fountains.

Hardscaping involves a host of issues that can involve  zoning (how deep a reflecting pool can be before it is  deemed a “swimming pool”?), etc. Plus, any time the  flow of water is being controlled, there is risk of damage  to property or adjacent property. It can be very  expensive to re-mediate and may need to purchase new  materials (soil, etc.) to fix. This is one of the most heavily  litigated areas. Adding oil, rock, or brick to beautify a  hillside can cause subsidence, which can cause major  sub-surface issues that could impact nearby properties.

Retaining Walls and Block. Before work starts, a decision  must be made about what type of block or wall to install.  There are numerous systems of interlocking block out  there. The use of any particular system will depend on  numerous factors, such as the water run off issues,  nature of the materials retained, etc.

Contractors must use caution: if they fail to obtain the  report of an engineer before installing the product, it  may void the block manufacturer’s warranty that comes  with block. The home owner should see the contract  between the installer and the manufacture or vendor of  materials. This is because the block  manufacturer/vendor may need to see to pre-approve  the blueprints design plan before it can be responsible  for poor construction. Often, the manufacturer or vendor  will have a list of approved contractors.

The property owner may benefit from having the  manufacturer/vendor sign off on the contract with the  installer (or at least see the contract between the vendor  and the contractor) before agreeing to pay for the block.

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