What Is the Difference Between Hardscape and Softscape?

When you think of decorating your home, most people immediately think of the interior. But your exterior can be just as important as the inside. It extends your home—an outdoor living area for your family. Landscaping creates an atmosphere for your entire home. However, when it comes to landscaping, the sky is the limit, which can be overwhelming. Landscaping itself is the process of creating a beautiful piece of land by methodically placing plants, rocks, and other elements. Technically, every structure outside the house is part of the landscaping, but it is divided into separate parts: hardscape and softscape. Let’s talk about what those mean.

What are Hardscape and Softscape?

The primary difference between these two elements of landscaping is pretty simple. Hardscape elements are solid and don’t change throughout the years. Softscape elements are constantly evolving as they mature and grow. Both facets impact the final aesthetic of your outdoor atmosphere, but they are pretty different.

Let’s Talk About Hardscaping

Hardscape refers to any portion of your landscaping that is solid and stays the same for years. But it’s a broad term for landscaping that includes small details — like adding a small shed — to larger projects like a paver pool deck. Some consider it an extension of your home because hardscaping adds to the functionality of your backyard. Examples include:
Hardscape and Softscape - Hardscape Example

Often, a hardscape creates a place for you to occupy, whether walking along a path or gathering with friends on a patio. It is a point of focus where guests may mingle, making it crucial for your hardscape to be welcoming.

What is Included in Softscaping?

Softscape is the opposite because there is no permanent, solid structure. Softscape is the living portion of your landscape, which includes:
Softscape Example

  • Plants
  • Trees
  • Flowers
  • Vines
  • Gardens
  • Soil
  • Shrubbery

These features can surround hardscape elements and work to complement the overall design. In addition, it softens any rough edges around patios, gazebos, and walkways.

Because these elements are living, this makes the softscape more high maintenance. Many plants need attention for watering, fertilizing, trimming, and weeding. Luckily, if you don’t have a green thumb, there are low-maintenance plants that require less attention but still add to the beauty of your landscape.

Creating a Balance Between Hardscape and Softscape

Every beautiful landscape has a balance of hardscape and softscape. An abundance of either one creates less curb appeal and potential functional problems. As a homeowner, you should consider these two elements when considering what you want your outdoor space to look like. We recommend a good balance between hardscape and softscape. Even though our expertise is in hardscaping, we take the time to carve out potential softscape areas for future landscaping.

A significant choice of what you want comes down to overall maintenance. How much or little attention you want to give to your outdoor areas helps determine how much of each component will be included in your landscape design.

7th State Builders Create Dream Backyard Escapes

Now that you understand hardscape and softscape, you’re ready to plan your dream backyard. Work with 7th State Builders to start the hardscape design — whether you want a sturdy concrete patio or a beautiful wooden deck. Our design team can create a custom hardscape design that allows you to incorporate existing or future softscape. Call us today to work with hardscape, patio, and deck design experts.