Softscape Vs. Hardscape

The two main components of landscaping are softscape and hardscape. Examples of softscape include flowers, plants, soil, mulch, grass and trees. Examples of hardscape include lighting, pavers, pools, driveways, irrigation systems and water features. Softscape materials are living and changing whereas hardscape materials are non living and constructed. Here are the differences between the two.

Softscape materials are soft, change more often and better for the environment. Maintenance might include fertilizing, pruning, remulching or changing out flower beds. The visual appeal here is one of beauty, texture and color. Too much softscape might result in having no hard surfaces to drive or entertain on — a lack of a hard surface.

Hardscape materials are more expensive and usually serve a function. Maintenance involves cleaning, repairing and replacing surfaces. Visual appeal might include the drama of lighting or a fire pit at night. Too much hardscape could result in a heavy, unbalanced look with little plant material. 

Paver walkway with stone benches and fountain surrounded by beautiful flowering plants and palms

Examples of combining both softscape and hardscape in a favorable way include planting vines on a pergola, using potted flowers on a pool deck or lighting several palm trees for night viewing. Combining softscape and hardscape in an unfavorable way might include too much driveway or too much stonework on the facade of a house ( I see this all the time) or using too many busy materials that create chaotic effect. Keep it simple, modern and fresh.

When landscaping, softscape and hardscape materials need to be thought out and balanced. They create beauty and visual appeal. They can enhance curb appeal and raise property values. A combination of both creates an ideal, practical and beautiful effect.

April-May Checklist

  • Fertilize grass, trees and shrubs

  • Fertilizer ban begins June 1st

  • Flowers and vegetables can be planted now

  • Great time to install tropical plants and trees

  • Pruning and trimming begin now

  • April and May are both dry months- water accordingly