Hardscapes vs. Softscapes: Why Do They Matter?
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
You know your lawn and patio are missing something, but your not quite sure what. Where to even start? In landscaping, industry professionals and luxury craftsmen use two different categories to differentiate landscaping improvements: Hardscapes and Softscapes.
While the two terms refer to different types of landscaping projects, they are normally intended to compliment one another. When starting a new project, the balance between the amount of hardscapes or softscapes will heavily impact the longevity, quality, aesthetic appeal, and maintenance time for the particular feature. Because of this, the different combinations of these two types of features has become increasingly important across the landscaping industry.
On the one hand, a Hardscape refers to material features built into, laid, or added to your home environment. At Groundscapes, our most popular hardscape features include:
Industry pioneers continue to develop new types of hardscapes, ranging from custom pergolas, to temperature controlled seats. The landscaping category is clear: if it’s created with inanimate objects and construction materials, and built into your lawn, it’s a hardscape.
On the other hand, Softscapes usually refer to more natural landscaping improvements that typically include gardens, flowers, fine-grass, custom-implanted trees of all shapes and sizes, bushes, and ground covers. Groundscapes provides all of these services, as well as other softscape improvements such as:
Weeding and Management
As a general rule of thumb, softscapes are living features of a landscape that require relatively frequent preservation and upkeep: hardscapes meanwhile, are set structures that are not alive, and are managed much less frequently.
Why worry about Hardscapes or Softscapes?
Most people look for landscaping features that will improve their outdoor experience - and wouldn’t normally need to know the difference between softscapes and hardscapes. So why does it matter?
It’s the mark of a skilled craftsman in the landscaping industry to be able to create new experiences, that effectively balance hardscapes with softscapes. Homeowners will often choose between hardscaping or softscaping improvements based upon a variety of factors: the aesthetic appeal of both, the drought resistance of the feature, the size of the enclosure at hand, the use of the landscaping space, and the amount of maintenance required.
Many commercial clients will almost always opt for a balance between hardscapes and softscapes because of these factors, and the enhanced appeal of the two different types of features together. Take for example, Groundscapes commercial contract with PayPal, or TD Ameritrade:
As the photo demonstrates, a landscaping feature that combines hardscapes with softscapes will be more aesthetically appealing, and self-contained than just one or the other.
If you are a customer who lives in an area with frequent weather events, hardscapes are normally a more enduring option. This is because a professional landscaping company, will build your hardscape with quality materials that can outlast just about any type of weather. At Groundscapes, our outdoor kitchens have been proven to endure all sorts of flooding, drainage issues in the surrounding area, and even ice and snow storms. This is the standard that you should ask any landscaping company about.
If you are a customer who only has limited space for a landscaping improvement, a creative balance between softscapes and hardscapes is probably your best option: This may range from a container garden, bush, or tree, complemented by a retaining wall or ground cover, to a flower garden, surrounded by a custom-designed rock formation. Take for example, a most recent project from our team of luxury craftsmen:
Last but not least, it is important to consider the maintenance time required for your newest home improvement, when deciding how much of your landscaping you would like to build out as a hardscape, or design to be a softscape. Our team of experts estimates that while a hardscape improvement can reliably last for many years without significant attention beyond normal cleaning, a softscape is much more fragile - especially dependent upon the weather - and requires weekly if not bi-weekly maintenance (that can be done either by the Groundscapes team, or yourselves).
Starting Your Next Project:
Next time you start a landscaping project, be sure to ask the company you are working with what combination of softscapes or hardscapes they would recommend for a particular landscaping feature. Not only is the balance important for making sure that your newest home improvement lasts, but it is also an important indicator of the quality of the company you are working with.
If you are located in or around the Omaha Metro Area, the Groundscapes team of expert designers and craftsmen is eager to hear about your next landscaping improvement! If you are still deciding what the right balance between a softscape and hardscape may be for your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today, or check out our existing project galleries!