Landscapes are as unique as those individuals who design them, but regardless, they are always about one thing: balance. They require both hardscape and softscape elements, applied creatively, to make them complete and meaningful.
Making the Choice
The first step is to determine what kind of landscape is desired and why. This necessity draws on a personal interests and needs. One should ask questions: Why am I designing this landscape? What purpose does it have? When questions such as these are addressed beforehand, the project becomes easier to manage and more satisfactory in the long run.
One should remember, though, regardless of the choices made, a balance must always be met, and that involves the inclusion of both hardscape and softscape. Homeowners need to determine how certain hardscape elements interact with softscape elements so they can coordinate them most effectively and efficiently. The relationship between every element involved is important and the choices made are crucial because of this.
Below are some common elements of hardscapes and softscapes. Observe the distinctions between them. Hardscape elements generally employ permanent or long-term materials such as flagstone, cement, brick and wood, where softscapes consist of more malleable substances. The possibilities are virtually endless, and these aren’t even complete lists.
• Outdoor kitchens
• Playground equipment
• Retaining walls
• Flowers and flowerbeds
• Soil and sod
• Stones and rocks
Fitting Things together
The proper way to landscape is to combine hardscape and softscape elements. This way, the landscape will be functional and aesthetically appealing at the same time. The beautiful thing is that both types of landscaping work in every climate and all weather conditions, although in some cases, seasonal landscaping is more temporary.
Every scenario is unique. The combinations depend on a number of factors that include region, size of the work area, climate and budget. In fact, all of these
become part of the creative and building processes.
Below are a few examples of how property owners can combine hardscaping and softscaping to meet both functional and visual demands:
• A gazebo with trailing vines
• A long driveway lined on both sides with oak trees whose branches reach overhead to form a canopy for shade
• A patio studded with potted plants
• Flowerbeds and/or saplings in elevated earth encircled by a brick border
• Retaining walls that feature a cluster of terraces for plant beds and lawns
NOTE: Hardscape materials and labor are typically more expensive than softscape, so homeowners with tight budgets tend to use care with hardscape elements in their projects.