Hardscaping and soft scaping are two essential terms in the world of landscaping that are often used interchangeably.
However, they are vastly different from each other in terms of their definition, purpose, and application.
According to recent statistics, the landscaping industry has been steadily growing over the past few years, with a projected market size of over $100 billion by 2025.
As such, it’s crucial to understand the difference between hardscaping and softscaping to ensure that you’re making informed decisions when it comes to creating your ideal outdoor space.
In this article, we’ll delve into the definitions of hardscaping and softscaping, their benefits, and how they can work together to create a beautiful and functional outdoor environment.
There are two main types of landscaping:
- hardscaping, and
- soft scaping
Hardscaping refers to the non-living elements in a landscaping project such as walls, pathways, and patios. These features are typically made from hard materials such as stone, concrete, or wood and are designed to add structure and functionality to outdoor spaces.
Some common examples of hardscaping features include:
- Patios: Outdoor spaces for dining, relaxation, and entertaining. According to a report by the National Association of Home Builders, patios are the most commonly installed hardscaping feature in new homes, with 87% of new homes having a patio installed.
- Walkways: Paths that connect different areas of a landscape together. Walkways can be made from a variety of materials including concrete, stone, brick, or gravel.
- Retaining walls: Structures that hold back soil and prevent erosion. Retaining walls can be made from a variety of materials including concrete blocks, natural stone, or wood.
- Fire pits: Outdoor features that provide warmth and light for outdoor gatherings. According to a survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects, fire pits are one of the most popular outdoor design elements, with 67% of homeowners installing them in their landscapes.
Tips for incorporating hardscaping into a landscape design:
- Start with a plan: Before you begin incorporating hardscaping elements into your landscape design, take some time to create a plan. This will help you visualize how the different elements will fit together and ensure that you are creating a cohesive design.
- Choose materials that complement your home and surroundings: When selecting hardscaping materials, consider the style of your home and the surrounding environment. For example, if you live in a wooded area, natural stone may be a good choice, whereas if you live in a more urban environment, concrete or brick may be a better fit.
- Mix and match materials: Don’t be afraid to mix and match different hardscaping materials to create visual interest. For example, you could use pavers for a patio and then incorporate a gravel pathway or a stone retaining wall.
- Create focal points: Use hardscaping elements to create focal points in your landscape design. A fountain, sculpture, or outdoor fireplace can all serve as a focal point that draws the eye and adds visual interest.
- Consider the function of your space: When designing your hardscaping elements, consider how you want to use your outdoor space. Do you want a space for entertaining, or do you want a quiet reading nook? The function of your space will help guide your design decisions.
- Don’t forget about lighting: Outdoor lighting can help showcase your hardscaping elements and create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Consider incorporating outdoor lighting into your design to highlight focal points and improve visibility at night.
Softscaping refers to the use of living, horticultural elements in landscaping design, such as plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers. Here are some common soft scaping features:
- Plants: One of the primary softscaping features, plants can be used to add color, texture, and dimension to any landscape. They can range from small ground covers to towering trees, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Trees: Trees are another common softscaping feature, and can be used to create shade, add visual interest, and provide habitat for wildlife. They can also help to reduce noise pollution and improve air quality.
- Shrubs: Shrubs are typically smaller than trees, but can still add a lot of visual interest to a landscape. They can be used to create hedges, define borders, or add texture and color.
- Flowers: Flowers are a popular softscaping feature, and can be used to add pops of color throughout a landscape. They can also be used to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.
- Grasses: Ornamental grasses are a great way to add texture and movement to a landscape. They can be used as ground covers, accents, or to create privacy.
- Vines: Vines can be used to cover walls, fences, and other structures, adding a touch of natural beauty to any landscape.
Tips for incorporating soft scaping into a landscape design:
- Start with a plan: Before you start planting, develop a design plan that takes into account the size and shape of the space you’re working with, as well as any existing hardscaping features (like paths, patios, or retaining walls).
- Consider the environment: Select plants that are appropriate for your region’s climate and soil conditions, and choose species that will thrive in the amount of sunlight and shade available in the space.
- Mix up your plant selection: Incorporate a variety of plants with different textures, colors, and heights to create visual interest and depth in the landscape. Consider using annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees to create a layered effect.
- Pay attention to scale: Make sure the plants you choose are proportional to the size of the space you’re working with. Small plants can get lost in a large area, while large plants can overwhelm a small space.
- Use plants to frame views: Consider using plants to frame views of the surrounding landscape, or to create a sense of enclosure in an outdoor living area.
- Don’t forget about maintenance: Choose plants that are appropriate for the level of maintenance you’re willing to commit to. Some plants require more care than others, so be realistic about how much time and effort you’re willing to put into maintaining your soft scape.
Hardscaping vs. Softscaping
Both hardscaping and soft scaping have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Hardscaping is ideal for creating low-maintenance outdoor spaces that are visually appealing and functional, while soft scaping is all about creating a lush and vibrant outdoor environment that is alive with color and texture.
When used together, hardscaping and soft scaping can create a stunning outdoor space that is both functional and beautiful. For example, a hardscape patio can be surrounded by soft scape elements, such as flower beds and trees, to create a natural and inviting atmosphere. In addition, hardscaping can help to define different areas of the landscape, such as creating a clear pathway to a garden or pool area.
Softscaping can also serve as a way to soften the harsh lines of hardscaping elements. For example, using plants to cover a retaining wall can help to blend it into the surrounding landscape and make it less imposing. Softscaping can also be used to add color and texture to the landscape, which can complement the more uniform look of hardscaping elements.
By carefully considering the placement and design of both hardscaping and soft scaping elements, homeowners can create a landscape that is both functional and beautiful.
Tips on How to Find the Best Hardscaping Contractors in Your Area
When it comes to finding the best hardscaping contractors in your area, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you make the right decision.
According to a recent survey, over 70% of homeowners who had a negative experience with a contractor said that the contractor did not have a clear plan or timeline for the project. Therefore, it is important to look for a contractor who can provide a detailed proposal and timeline for your project.
Also, it is crucial to do your research and read reviews from previous clients.
Over 80% of consumers read reviews before making a purchasing decision, and this applies to hiring a contractor as well. Look for contractors who have positive reviews and a strong portfolio of completed projects.
For example, if you are located in Everett, and you are looking for Hardscaping services say outdoor kitchens, you may search online and use the keywords: “outdoor kitchens Everett”, or “hardscaping near me“.
Another example is when you are looking for the nearest towing company in Kansas, you may search online with, “Kansas City towing companies” to help you with the fastest available services in the area.
This way, search results will provide more specific and geo-accurate results to help you with your needs.
Another important factor to consider is the contractor’s experience and expertise. It is recommended to choose a contractor who specializes in hardscaping and has experience working with the materials and design elements you want for your project.
Lastly, don’t forget to ask for references and check the contractor’s license and insurance. This is because, according to industry experts, over 50% of contractors are not properly licensed and insured, which can put you at risk if something goes wrong during the project.