November 8, 2023

The two main elements that make up landscape design are hardscapes and softscapes. By definition, the difference is easy to understand. Hardscapes are the “hard” parts of your landscape, such as anything made from concrete, bricks, or stones. Softscapes consist of anything that grows. Simply put, softscapes are living and hardscapes are not. A beautiful, unified landscape will include both hardscapes and softscapes. Landscape design experts will understand how to balance both for a cohesive design that combines beauty and function.

flower bed within retaining wall hardscape with red, green, white, and yellow plants

Understanding the Need for Hardscapes

Hardscapes include things like retaining walls, paths, patios, outdoor kitchens, water features, gazebos, decks, and driveways. Some hardscapes are natural, such as those made from stone, while others are man made, like outdoor structures. Hardscapes can be functional. Paths, driveways, and retaining walls will help define the space and can help with drainage and irrigation issues. In addition, hardscapes are generally good for outdoor living spaces. A stone patio with an outdoor kitchen can be excellent for entertaining, and fire pits can create another gathering space. Water features such as ponds and fountains can be incorporated as focal points in the landscaping. Hardscapes, since they are not living, tend to be low maintenance. Although some care and upkeep is needed for any outdoor features, hardscapes won’t have the maintenance needs of the green spaces, making them very attractive to those looking for easy upkeep.

Understanding the Need for Softscapes

Although there are great benefits to hardscapes, without softscapes of living plants, a home can begin to feel industrial or harsh. You don’t need to go overboard to have enough green space to make your home feel cozy and welcoming. With enough designated gardens, plantings, and lawn spaces, your outdoor living spaces will become a relaxing place for you, your family, and your guests. However, if you are living in an area prone to drought, or one with heavy clay soil, maintaining a large green space can be difficult. While every home needs some softscapes, an abundance that is hard to manage can make a home feel unkempt.

Benefits of Finding the Right Balance

The right balance of hardscapes and softscapes is the secret to a beautiful outdoor space. Even the smallest yard can be well designed with areas of hardscapes and softscapes. A hardscape path can lead a visitor from the hardscape areas of the driveway to the patio by cutting through the beautiful softscape of a well-maintained lawn. Retaining walls can help define flower beds. A stone patio can be edged by well-placed shrubs, and a gazebo or trellis is the perfect place for climbing flowers.

Beginning Your Landscape Design

Landscape designers are educated in the elements of both hardscapes and softscapes, but will also have the vision of an artist. A landscape designer can look at your property and decide which plants will thrive, and how to solve any potential issues with soil, drainage, sun, and shade. If your property is sparse, a designer will help you find the right focal points, and if your property is overgrown, they can help you find the best way to clear the clutter. Landscape designers are experts in finding the right balance to match the needs of your property and your vision.

A quality landscape company will offer landscape design, installation, and maintenance services from expert professionals who are ready to take on all your landscaping needs. The professionals will know how to balance hardscapes and softscapes, and will know how to integrate your lawn, irrigation, and maintenance for the best balance and great outdoor living spaces you and your family will enjoy spending time in. To learn more about how we can help, contact Twin Oaks Landscape today!