Hardscaping vs Landscaping

When creating a design for your landscape, your landscaper may use the terms “hardscaping” and “landscaping.” Being aware of the differences between them can help you understand your landscaper’s ideas and/or even create a design of your own. It will also help you know how to care for your new landscape once it is in place.

Hardscape and softscape are both elements in landscaping. Hardscape refers to the heavier elements in landscape design, such as stones, rocks, patios and driveways. Softscape refers to everything else, such as soil, plants, flower and color schemes.

When hiring a landscape company, the objective is to combine both hardscape and softscape features to give the yard the right balance. Harmony is imperative, as you don’t want a yard with plenty of walkways but no vegetation to complement it.

Hardscape is any of the non-living stuff in your landscape design such as rocks, bricks and pavers. It could also include structures like pergolas, which are used specifically in your landscape.

Landscape is the “soft,” or living, things in your design such as plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers.
It’s quite easy to understand the difference between the two. What can be a little more difficult, however, is figuring out how to get them to work harmoniously in your design. It could be trickier than you think. Hardscaping is about more than aesthetics, you also have to consider how it will impact the functioning of the landscape.

Hardscape Elements
Hardscape covers all the spaces and proportions, and it also includes the installation of sprinkler systems and systems that prevent the absorption of water. For these reasons, hardscape features are the ones that landscapers start with as they lay out the boundaries and shape of the yard. Examples of hardscape features include:

• Walkways
• Driveways
• Patios
• Swimming pools
• Fountains
• Stone benches
• Arbors
• Gates
• Heavy materials like stone, flagstone and rock

Softscape Elements

When the hardscaping is complete, it’s time to add the living part of the landscape, which is the softscape. Softscape features may be permanent, such as evergreen trees and shrubs, or they may be temporary, such as with perennial flowers. This is what makes softscaping so much fun, as it’s always changing to fit the season and vision of the homeowner. Examples of softscape features include:

• Grass
• Trees
• Shrubs
• Flowers
• Soil
• Vegetable gardens

Landscape is complete without elements from both categories, but there are pros and cons to think about as you find harmony in your space. First, hardscaping elements are typically much higher in cost. And, if you need a change of scenery in a few years, you’ll need to go through the redesign and replacing of hardscape features. Softscaping, on the other hand, is more affordable and can be easily changed. At the same time, softscape elements require more care and maintenance.

With the above factors in mind, the team at Crest Paving encourages our customers to use their budget as a guide as to what features they want to put in their yard. Other things to think about include:

  • What level of maintenance are you willing to put forth? Annuals need to be replaced each year, while some shrubs require constant pruning.
  • Do you want to use eco-friendly materials? Organic soil?
  • Do you plan to use hardscape features for practical purposes, such as preventing water absorption?

Crest Paving specializes in domestic and commercial paving projects – using all types of paving products. Whether dry cast cement bricks, clay or simulated stone paving – the job is done to the correct specifications, which is why we offer a ten-year guarantee on all workmanship.

Send comment