Hardscape vs Softscape: Similarities and Differences

Although we are now a full-service landscaping company, servicing both commercial and residential properties, our roots lie in residential luxury landscape design. It was and still is our goal to create luxurious outdoor spaces that are filled with useful amenities and come together with a cohesive design. This takes the combination of multiple elements in the landscape being put together, both hardscapes and softscapes. These might be unfamiliar terms to those who are not in the landscaping world, so we wanted to give an explanation. We will go over both terms and compare the two.

Hardscapes: Functional Structure

To put it in the simplest of terms, hardscapes are any element in the landscape that utilizes rock or stone as the core composition. Think about driveways and walkways, offering people and vehicles a way to traverse the property. Retaining walls also fall into this category, creating a path for water runoff and preventing soil erosion in sloped yards. Stone edging would also be a hardscape, separating distinct parts of the property. The theme here is obvious, hardscapes are typically functional in nature. 

Because they are made of rock or stone, they require very little maintenance and can be used in more impactful ways. They will last an extremely long time, only needing to be washed when dirty. There are some hardscapes that are less functional than others, like a decorative rocks. This is a mulch alternative that can be used in plant beds, but even it provides functionality like preventing weed spread and soil erosion. Hardscapes are an essential part of any landscape and provide a hardened structure to the property. They make what would otherwise just be a garden into a carefully designed landscape.

Softscapes: Alive and Green

On the complete other hand you have softscapes. These are any landscape elements that do not fall into the hardscape category and are probably the ones that first come to mind. All plant material would be considered a softscape, from flowers to trees. Shrubs are also a softscape, and so are landscaping materials like mulch. These are the landscape elements that bring beauty and color to the landscape, making it exciting. 

Like hardscapes, they can also be used functionally, with shrubs and trees providing plenty of privacy to the property. Let us not forget the most important softscape, which is your lawn. Like the turf, most softscapes require more maintenance than hardscapes. They need nutrients like sunlight and water, but also should be fertilized when the opportunity arises. 

Conclusion: Both Hardscapes and Softscapes are Necessary

While there are certainly similarities between hardscapes and softscapes, there are also differences. However, neither is better or worse. Both are essential ingredients to a healthy landscape, supporting each other in numerous ways. Without a plant bed full of soil, there is no purpose for stone edging or decorative rock. The worry of water runoff causing damage to turf is the exact reason to install a retaining wall. They work as yin and yang, and we combine the two to help our clients Dream Greener.

Dream Greener Lawn & Landscape is led by a staff of service experts, each with ten years or more of professional experience, focused exclusively on lawn care & maintenance, landscaping and snow & ice management. Locally owned and operated, we are proud to serve the greater Pittsburgh area. Give us a call today at (412) 835-1035.

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