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.


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.


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.

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