Many people consider their landscaping as an outdoor extension of their home and put much thought into their landscape design. However, when most people consider landscaping, they think of shrubs, plants, and trees but in reality, there are other aspects that make up your landscape design. Outdoor spaces comprise a few components that create beautiful spaces. Hardscapes and softscapes are two of the more important features.

Hardscapes can be defined as the “brick and mortar” aspect of landscape or built-in features. These things are the nonliving components. Hardscapes can serve as a practical aspect of your landscape design and include such things as, driveways, sidewalks, and walkways to get you from one place to the other within your landscape. Walls and fences can serve as a barrier between yards and are made from various materials such as stone, iron, or wood. Hardscapes can also serve as a more decorative feature with such things as, patios, decks, waterscapes, garden tresses, gazebos, and much more. These can be pivotal aspects of your landscape that make your design go for ordinary to amazing and make your yard stand out.

Softscapes consist of the living or used to be living components of your design. These include grass, shrubs, plants, trees, and ground cover. Ground cover such as mulch and pine straw and trees and plants are some of the most common types of softscapes. When considering your soft scape components you should take into consideration your geographical location’s climate, rainfall, and also the amount of sun and shade those areas in your design will receive. Some grasses, plants shrubs, and trees require more sun or shade, and placement in your design for these elements is crucial. Consider how much rainfall you receive and some plants and grasses require more or less water to thrive. All of these should be a consideration when designing your space.

Softscapes require maintenance which includes watering, trimming, planting and other tasks to ensure success. Softscapes are often purchased from local home improvement stores, nurseries, or tree farms and are planted, installed, and maintained by homeowners or landscape contractors.

Both hardscapes and softscapes are key elements to a beautiful outdoor space. There are a few differences between the two. Here are 5 key differences.

  • Hardscapes are a more permanent solution to softscapes. Hardscapes generally require building or constructing each element with careful planning and execution. These elements are often a semi-permanent aspect or require substantial work to be removed or taken down. There is generally a higher cost involved with hardscape installation. These costs are for materials and labor. These features often require the help of professional landscape designers or installers to put together the final product. Keep in mind when designing these features that elements such as drainage or lack thereof can cause issues and should be planned out prior to building these elements.
  • Softscapes tend to be a more changeable aspect over hardscape features. They often create a mood or feel for landscape design. This can be done by changing out different flowers, trees, or shrubs in order to update the look of your design. This can be as simple as changing out plants by updated colors from season to season or changing the layout or design of flower beds for an updated look.
  • Softscapes require a higher level of maintenance than hardscapes. While hardscapes may require more labor and materials at the start of the project, the long term maintenance on them is minimal. Whereas, softscapes require continuous maintenance to continue to thrive and maintain their beauty. Regular watering, trimming, mowing, and various other upkeep tasks are required.
  • Hardscapes are often the area in our outdoor space that people occupy whether it be a sitting or gathering area or a path or walkway to another area of your outside oasis. These items include decks, patios, and pools where people can gather and enjoy the outdoor space. Hardscapes also provides a way to organize the softscape areas of your yard with retaining walls and other hardscape features.
  • Softscapes are often used to create a more visually appealing aspect to your landscape. This can be done with the use of colorful flowers and shrubs along with plants in various heights to create a dramatic feel. Plants, trees, and shrubs often provide a balance between what can often be a colder appearance of hardscapes.

While both hardscapes and softscapes work hand in hand in the design of your outdoor living space keep in mind when planning out your landscaping oasis you should consider both as key components to your design. Both are crucial parts of your dream landscape design.