Spreetail Blog

The Secrets Behind a Balanced Landscape

Hardscape and Softscape Basics

by Kaiti Hill
May 17, 2019

Landscaping is a familiar term to most – but hardscaping and softscaping? These aren’t as familiar. Each element of a landscape is considered either hardscape or softscape. Together, hardscape and softscape are what create a balanced landscape that’s both attractive and practical. There’s a lot behind these 2 halves of landscaping, but let’s start with the cold hard basics.   

What’s Considered Hardscape? 

Hardscape and softscape have pretty intuitive names. Hardscape is any solid non-living component of a landscape. Common hardscape features are rocks, bricks, pavement – think driveways, patios, and sidewalks – gates, decks, retaining walls, and more. Outdoor kitchens are even considered hardscape. Though not actually hard to the touch, water features like fountains and ponds are considered hardscape elements too. 

What’s Considered Softscape? 

Trees, soils, shrubs, flowers, plants, and more are all considered softscape. These living elements are soft to the touch and far less permanent than hardscape components. Softscape elements are easier to switch out, meaning you can swap out your greenery from season to season or as new trends come and go.  

Which Comes First? 

A defining quality of all hardscape elements is longevity. Hardscape elements are much more permanent than their counterpart and often require construction to be put into place. These elements are the bones of any landscape. When designing and creating your landscape, hardscape should be considered and built out first.  

Because they’re more versatile and forgiving, softscape elements come second in landscape design. Since most hardscape features call for construction, putting down your softscape first can be counterproductive, as you might have to tear it up to install your hardscape elements. 

Why Is it Important to Have Both? 

Combining hardscape and softscape offers more than just a balanced visual. A proper combination of hardscape and softscape offers a whole slew of benefits. Hardscape gives you more space to entertain, while softscape is great for children or pets to run and play. Hardscape can also be used to maintain your softscape elements or the land your home sits on in general. Installing certain features such as retaining walls and rock elements can prevent problems like soil erosion and the need for excessive watering.  

While these are just the basics, they’re the foundation of any good landscape. Browse our lawn and garden goods and outdoor tools for products that’ll jumpstart your next landscape project.  

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