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Paving Stone Patio with paving stone built-in seat and wall with firepit and landscaping

Landscaping 101: Hardscapes vs. Softscapes

Published Date: Feb 19, 2024

If you’ve heard the terms hardscape and softscape and wondered what they’re referring to, you’re not alone. Check out our quick rundown on how they differ, how they’re similar, and how each plays an important place in your landscape. In no time at all, you’ll be chatting about hardscape and softscape like a pro.

But first, let’s talk about landscaping.

Landscaping is a comprehensive practice that encompasses designing and creation of outdoor spaces that are appealing and increase the functionality of a property. Although it is often used in reference to a person working as a landscape gardener, it can also refer to the overall discipline of enhancing the aesthetic of an outdoor space.

Hardscapes and softscapes are the two primary components within the realm of landscaping. Each plays a crucial role in shaping the overall look and feel of an outdoor environment. If we were playing the classic guessing game “Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral”, hardscape would fall more into the Mineral category, while softscape would be closer to Vegetable.

Hardscapes are our specialty!

As the nation’s leading outdoor remodeling company, we’ve spent more than three decades getting to know the ins and outs of hardscape. Made from materials such as stone, wood, or metal, hardscape refers to the non-living, structural elements of a landscape. Designed to provide definition and structure, hardscape adds functionality to a space.

paver patio at sunset

One of the main reasons we got into this business was because we love the durability of hardscape. With millions of design possibilities, there’s a joy to be found in creating more beautiful outdoor spaces from materials meant to last for generations.

Here are some key characteristics of hardscape:

Durable, Lasting Value: Hardscapes are permanent fixtures within a landscape design – intended to stand the test of time and season after season of changing weather conditions.

Functional Beauty: Hardscapes often have a practical purpose, from a patio or pergola-covered seating area to driveways, decks, outdoor kitchens, and fireplaces.

Easy to Maintain: Once installed, hardscapes require minimal maintenance, making them ideal for busy homeowners and families.

Think of hardscape as the foundation of a great outdoor living space. With the right components, you’ll have an enjoyable space that’s as easy to use as it is to view.

Softscapes are the icing on the cake.

Referring to all the horticultural elements of your yard, softscapes include plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, grass, and other materials that naturally add texture and natural beauty to outdoor spaces. By softening hard lines, softscape can create a more harmonious look to your landscaping design.

kid picking flowers

Softscape is dynamic as foliage changes with the seasons. Although this can mean ongoing care and maintenance, it gives you the ability to transform the look of your yard throughout the year.

Naturally Alive: Softscapes are living organisms, ranging from plants and grasses to trees, hedges, and herb gardens.

Earth Friendly: By choosing the right foliage, softscape can improve air quality, stabilize soil, support biodiversity, and help regulate temperatures.

• Maintenance Intensive: Most softscapes require regular upkeep such as watering, weeding, pruning and pest control to help ensure healthy growth and bring a tidy look to your outdoors.

While hardscapes and softscapes serve different purposes, they are both equally important in creating a cohesive look for any outdoor environment. Whether you’re creating a cozy backyard hangout spot, a garden retreat, or an inviting outdoor entertainment area, you’ll want to purposefully integrate hardscape and softscape features to achieve your ideal outdoor oasis.

Paving stone patio with built-in stone fire pit and built-in wall with candles and lights.

We can get your hardscape dreams on the right track with a complimentary design consultation. Book yours today!

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