Golden Woods
29252 Lawrence Welk Lane Escondido
17 Oct 2016

Landscaping: The Perfect Balance between Softscape and Hardscape

Does hiring a landscaper or even consulting with a landscaper make a difference in someone’s yard? The answer is a huge yes! Most people who choose to remodel their yard themselves find their ending result unbalanced and not giving the wow they had been hoping for. You have to take a lot of factors into consideration when it comes to creating the perfect landscape for your home. The key to a successful yard is the balance between soft and hardscape and it will vary for each home.

What is Softscape?

Softscape are the elements outside the house that are fluid and changing as they mature. It can include, flowers, plants, shrubs, trees and flower beds. The purpose of softscape is to lend character to the landscaping, create an aura, ambience, and reflect the sensibilities of the inhabitants. Softscape requires maintenance to keep it looking presentable and alive. Watering, pruning, mowing and planting are just a few tasks involved in the upkeep of the softscape portion of a yard. A natural pond, even if it has been dug out and created by man, can be considered softscape as it will have changing plant and animal life.

softscape

What is Hardscape?

Hardscape refers to the solid, hard elements in landscape design that stay the same for years. It is the nonliving or man-made fixtures of a planned outdoor area. This can include paved areas, driveways, retaining walls, sleeper walls, stairs and walkways any other landscaping made up of hard wearing materials such as wood, stone, concrete etc. From an urban planning perspective, hardscapes can include very large features, such as paved roads, porches, fountains and even small pools. Most water features are hardscapes because they require a barrier to retain the water, instead of letting it drain into the surrounding soil.

hardscape

An Unbalanced View

When there is too much softscape or hardscape it can be slightly off putting to look at. For some it is too much hardscaping. Large patios and terraces paved with interlocking pavers and seat-walls around them in either stone or concrete block; sweeping staircases, luxurious zero-edge pools, and massive built-in outdoor kitchens with the latest in outdoor cooking technology. These features while seemingly fabulous tend to strike an uninviting feeling. The hardscape seems to overwhelm the warmth of nature, which has been defeated.

For others it is overwhelmingly all softscape and while the idea of having a huge green yard may sound inviting it is the exact opposite, it consumes. People tend to feel there is no true layout and nothing to cohesively pull the yard together. It takes a lot of resources, time and maintenance to keep the yard in mint condition which people will quickly be deterred from. The yard can quickly become unruly and chaotic, neighbors will notice and become very annoyed with the over grown, under watered, plants and shrubs that have not been tended to.

Balancing the Two

So how do landscapers avoid these dilemma? Simple, they break a yard down into rooms like a house and create a cohesive flow from one side to the other. Because each yard is different in size, structure and sunshine the landscaper has to take into account all parts to produce a final product rather than looking at a segment.

Balance is one of the key design principles in landscape architecture, and without it, design lacks a primary component. A strong sense of balance between hardscape and plant life can truly bring a design together and transform a formerly plain and uninteresting landscape into a beautiful oasis. Designing with vegetation is always a primary focus, but they manipulate the hardscape to provide some structure to the organic flow of vegetated spaces.

landscaping balanced-landscape

29 Aug 2016

Creating a Natural Feeling Landscape Design

Two principles of landscaping to live by when aiming for a natural feeling property are (1) to look from inside the house out and landscape according to the view and (2) to utilize different plants for variety because in nature nothing grows the same.

INSIDE OUT

So you are thinking about redoing your yard –whether it is your front, side, back, or entire yard- you want to start inside your home. Each window gives a different view of the yard and will be how you most commonly view your new landscape, so plan accordingly.

inside out

Notice that the bench becomes the immediate focus point from this view, off to the left to let your eyes cascade down the stone framing and falling onto the fountain on the right. The greenery gives the stone a bright contrast to capture the gaze of any admiring friend.

What you don’t want is for your landscaping creativity to obstruct any view from the house. Instead you want focal points and accents to draw your sight through the scenery.

Placing trees, shrubs and bushes should be done strategically rather than just placed for shading or color purpose. When planted too close to the house they can quickly block your view of the outside world and the hard work you put into the remainder of the yard.

before and after

Look at how open and pleasant the view became after removing the overgrown hedges and planting shrubs that give the window room to breathe. Yes they may act as a barrier between you and your neighbors or people passing by, but that is what curtains and blinds are for when you want privacy. You want to be able to enjoy the outside of your house from the inside, especially on terrible weather days.

Planting larger items further from the house gives optimum view from the window. Keep plants short under window sills and plant hedges near fences that you want to be kept unseen. Plant trees so that they stem from either the right or the left of the window frame to give the view a beautiful off set.

variety

VARIETY

It is easy to make mistakes landscaping, especially if it is your first time. Common mistakes include not considering your architectural style, not planning for the landscape year-round, not coordinating a harmonious color scheme and not compensating for plant growth over time. However, many would argue the biggest mistake in landscaping is having no variety. Find out how you can avoid these errors before you commit to a new yard.

Size determines everything when it comes to landscaping. When you are getting started look closely at your home. Selecting plants that match or compliment the architecture of your home with the theme of your garden, if applicable. A cottage-style garden is a great compliment to a white picket fence. Besides the plants in your garden, you need to think about your hardscape. If you are putting in a deck, for example, you need to make sure those elements of your landscape also reflect positively upon your house.

lavender bushes

Notice the variation of size as the plants alternate between shrub, flowers and bushes. The repetition of the stairs brings pleasant feelings and is visually stimulating.

Forgetting that, as the seasons change so do plants, is something that can easily be avoided. When homeowners go to a nursery or plant yard, it is common to just buy what’s in season at the time. Remember, various flowers bloom at certain times of the year. If you’ve got a lot of plants that are blooming in the spring, take note that in the fall you’re going to need some other plants, if you want foliage. It is best to select plants that look good in the winter and in the spring, if possible.

Seasonal trees

Before making a trip to the nursery, you need to know what palette you’d like as well as which colors work well together. Look at the color of your house and then choose one color that really frames it. Try to stay semi-monochromatic for the most part because if there is too much color or it’s too strong, it can become a distraction. Repetition and some harmony in landscaping goes a long way.

Being shortsighted is a common problem because many people don’t know what the eventual growth of their plants will be. You need to find out how they spread, how they reproduce and what type of maintenance they require. Talk to your local nursery for more information of the growth of your plants prior to planting them so you can allot for the space necessary.  With all plants varying in size, you want to be careful not to cover plants that stay closer to the ground with bushes that tend to flower outward.

Natural Landscape

Intermingle various shapes and sizes of plants to create visual interest and bring in the right kind of insects. Certain plants need certain nutrients. If you plant just one type of plant, not only could they suck all of those nutrients out of the soil, they dull the visual senses. Variety increases the longevity of nutrients and excites our brain to look for more differences.

So whether it is your first or hundredth time landscaping your home, focus on what your view will look like from indoors and the variety you want all year long. Don’t be too quick to decide, take the plant home and lay it out and spend time looking at it and getting it just right!