Residential landscaping involves more than just planting trees, shrubs and flowers. Hard elements are also necessary, both for functional purposes (such as paving or retaining walls) and for decorative effects. Homeowners are most familiar with natural rock, brick, and precast concrete. But they may not know that cast-in-place concrete is also well-suited for landscaping. There are four main attributes that make it so attractive: 1. Shapeability--Because concrete is initially plastic, it can be formed to almost any shape or proportion. 2. Textural versatility--A wide range of surface finishes is possible with concrete, from an eggshell-smooth troweled surface to a very coarse tooled or exposed-aggregate surface. 3. Color versatility--The color of concrete can be altered in a variety of ways. Contractors can add raw pigments or color-conditioning admixtures to the concrete mix, use colored aggregate, and apply paints, stains, or dry-shake hardeners. 4. Strength and durability--Like natural rock, concrete resists rotting, warping, termites, and fire and is virtually maintenance free.