If you have taken on a landscaping project at your home, or are looking too, you will need to familiarize yourself with some landscaping terminology. Some terms that will likely be thrown around quite a bit are softscaping and hardscaping. When choosing landscape features it is important to know what softscaping is and what hardscaping is so that you can make well-informed decision and design the perfect landscape to suit your needs.
First, the term softscape is used to describe non-permanent features that are not structural, they are fluid and moving – changing over time. Softscape is essentially the living and animated part of the landscape such as trees, shrubs, plants, soil, flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, grass and more. While softscaping may sound, theoretically, like the less important landscape design element, it is anything but. Softscape can be simulated on landscape design software ahead of time to play around with what works best but softscape can truly make or break a landscape. The juxtaposition of softscape and hardscape is what makes a landscape aesthetically pleasing and visually interesting. When designing your landscape you do not want to add too many “hard” elements or it will seem unbalanced and too “cold.” The beauty of softscaping is that it is more flexible than hardscaping and can be changed seasonally, annually or as your personal preferences change.
Hardscape is the term used to describe solid, hard elements that tend to remain the same for many years. This includes landscape design elements such as walkways, retaining walls, rocks, pavers, driveways, arbors, gates, outdoor kitchens, decks, water features and more. Hardscaping is more than simple landscaping because it involves construction. Hardscape gives structure and form to the landscape which is why it is typically the firm thing completed in a landscape design project. Softscape is then filled in around the hardscape to create a beautiful balance of soft and hard. While the hardscape will most likely cost more than the softscape, the two are of equal importance because without one the landscape would look strange and incomplete. All of the landscaping covers the upper level of soil to create the ideal outdoor environment for you, your family and your guests to enjoy. The cost of hardscape materials can vary significantly depending on whether or not you choose synthetic or natural materials (think synthetic pavers vs. natural stone). If you have a hard time envisioning just how it wall all work together in harmony, work with your landscape designer to simulate what your landscape will look like with both soft and hardscape. If certain areas seem imbalanced it is wise to add in additional elements so that the entire landscape is well-balanced, beautiful, useful and aesthetically pleasing.