Softscape and Hardscape: What’s the Difference?

You may have heard the terms landscape, hardscape, and softscape and wonder what it all means. These terms, while related, aren’t necessarily all interchangeable. Landscaping involves elements of both softscape and hardscape. They all work together to transform your yard into a work of art.

Your Guide to Softscape and Hardscape

Landscaping, then, is the overarching term for transforming your yard beyond more than just a mowed lawn. Your landscaper will draw from both hardscaping and softscaping to achieve your desired look and feel. Get to know the differences between these two elements and how they work together with the following comparison:

1) Composition

As the name indicates, softscaping elements are typically softer such as plants, flowers, trees, shrubbery, and soil. Hardscaping elements, as may be expected, are literally harder in nature such as gravel, paving, stone, walkways, and decks. Softscaping is generally all natural while elements of hardscaping may be either natural or manmade.

2) Permanence

Because softscaping elements are primarily alive, they are constantly changing, evolving, and adapting. They may require ongoing attention to keep them looking the same year round. Hardscaping elements, on the other hand, are inanimate, solid, and do not change. They may become worn by weather and time but will remain unchanged for the most part.

3) Purpose

Softscaping and hardscaping elements serve different purposes in your overall landscape design. Softscaping is useful in maintaining the ecological balance of your natural environment. They can provide color, character, and serenity. Their purpose is primarily aesthetic. Hardscaping elements may be installed for both practical and aesthetic purposes. Different types of hardscape may be employed to address different needs. They can be used to prevent erosion, control drainage, and create different focal points in the yard.

Landscaping: Bringing it All Together

To achieve your ideal landscape design, your designer must find the perfect balance of both softscape and hardscape elements. A design that leans too heavily in one direction or the other may feel empty or not reach its full functionality. This is especially important in the front yard as it can affect your curb appeal and neighborhood property values.

The Art of Landscape Design

Landscape design utilizes a careful balance between softscape and hardscape elements to achieve your desired outcome. Your designer must be knowledgeable and experienced in different types of plants and flowers, soils, hardscaping features, and the local ecology. All these elements come together to sculpt your yard into an eye-catching, functional landscape work of art.

Contact Us to learn more about the elements of landscape design or to get started designing your ideal landscape.