Hardscape Vs Softscape? How To Balance Landscaping Design Elements

Homeowners and property developers are faced with many options when planning their landscape design or outdoor space. Whether it is for a residential yard or a commercial property these options can be broken down into hardscape elements and softscape elements.

Instead of looking at landscaping elements as hardscape vs softscape, landscape professionals should look to harmonize the two.

Creating a space that is pleasing for the client and increases the value of the property is the goal and requires a thorough understanding of these two elements

Although complete opposites, hardscaping, and softscaping are essential to the design appeal and functionality of any landscape, be it residential or commercial.

Let’s take a deeper look into their differences and learn how to create balance, and order, as well as enchanting landscapes.

Hardscape Elements

©Joanne Dale // Shutterstock

What is hardscaping? Hardscaping is the foundation of landscape design, it is the non-living, inorganic elements of landscape design. Hardscape structures can include patios, walkways, retaining walls, driveways, and even wooden arbors, and stone slabs.

Hardscape features have the practical purpose of drawing visitors into the landscape with pathways or seating areas.

Hardscape landscaping also helps turn a messy, cold, and sterile environment into well-defined areas suitable for displaying beautiful plants or even preventing potential erosion. In essence, hardscaping elements add functionality and well-organized beauty to a space.

When considering the hardscape potential of an area, understand the space’s purpose and the client’s needs. For example, front and back yards require different hardscape landscaping focal points. The front yard and patio often have eye-catching curb appeal to draw visitors in such as planting trees in large planters, while the back may have extra seating, fire-pits, and well-placed walking paths depending on the size and function of the property.

Find out 10 outdoor design and commercial landscaping ideas to boost business

10 Great Hardscape Landscaping Ideas

1. Retaining walls

2. Stepping stone footpaths

3. Concrete curbs to elevate plants

4. Gazebos for a relaxation focal point

5. Fireplace to engage visitors

6. Shaded patios to encourage mingling

7. Functional and beautiful driveways

8. Fountains to add a water element

9. Swimming pools for a wow factor

10. Outdoor kitchen

Softscape Elements

Softscape landscape design covers the living elements, the trees, shrubs, grass, flowers, and other plants, in essence, all the horticultural elements, while planters and containers exist within the hardscape landscape design.

PuraVida Miami Valencia
©PuraVida Miami Valencia / Jay Scotts

Together the hardscape and softscape create an outdoor living space that is vibrant and full of life. Other than the living plants in the landscape, softscape also covers garden landscaping, including mulching, mowing, planting, trimming, etc.

When it comes to hardscape vs softscape, a scoftscape is more flexible and can be easily changed or updated.

Softscaping options like perennial plants and annual plants can add new design elements that refresh the landscape aesthetic, while hardscaping elements like planters need more planning and forth0ught as they will rarely be replaced once installed.

Climate-Friendly Living Elements In Landscape Design

Small vertical garden
Our fiberglass planters fit perfectly for a vertical garden. ©Jay Scotts

Softscaping is more than just growing shrubs and trees, it can contribute positively to the local environment especially when plants are chosen mindfully.

Increasingly, landscaping clients are looking for climate-friendly softscaping, contextualizing their gardens in the larger ecosystem. Biogeography is a key consideration here for recommending suitable trees, plants, and shrubs to the yard. For example, if the area is prone to hot dry weather, drought-tolerant plants instead of lush green lawns would be better for the landscape.

Eco-softscaping is important as it goes beyond concrete and stone, creating an environment that caters to the well-being of people and keeps the overall ecological balance in check. This brings about benefits to both wildlife and humans in the surroundings.

Check out these 10 great ideas to boost your garden aesthetic.

Where Do Hardscaping And Softscaping Meet? The Answer Is Planters.

Planters on a patio
©Jay Scotts

Hardscaping and softscaping are opposites, however, they complement each other to create a landscape that is both functional and vibrant.

Planters are the middle ground of where hardscape and softscape meet in landscaping design, making it an effective solution to creating a balance between the two.

Planters integrate easily into the hardscape, helping to design the utility of areas or add arable space. Unlike most hardscape elements, plant pots can be moved to meet different seasonal or design needs.

Of course, its utility for softscape elements is obvious – plants love planters! Planters also punch way above the average hardscaping solution. Let’s look at some of the amazing things you can do with planters.

5 Ways To Integrate Planters

©Jay Scotts

Let’s look at our 5 favorite ideas to achieve a balanced hardscape and softscape landscaping plan.

1. Create a Flowery Stairway

Spruce up your stairway entrance with planters on both sides. Flowers in pots brighten up otherwise sparse stairs while colorful arrangement adds a welcoming touch to visitors – great for any home or shopfront!

Best Planter Recommendation: Tonto Small Cute Planter

2. Line Property Pathways

Lining the walkways of an outdoor area with planters encourages guests to enter a property, or enjoy moving between areas of the landscape. Planters also allow you or your clients to block off access to pathways and back-of-house areas, or corral guests in defined paths, this is especially effective in theme parks and resorts.

Best Planter Recommendation: Cuba Low Rectangular Planter

3. Create a Privacy Fence

Rectangular planters provide a private feel when deployed in an outdoor area. Planters butted together to create the perfect privacy fence are beautiful and functional and are easily moved if necessary. Choose tall bushy plants if you want to form a private oasis!

Best Planter Recommendation: Badalona Rectangular Planter

4. Go Vertical

The lack of space should not mean you compromise on greenery. Creating a living wall easily adds robust plant life to any area. Using wall planters is a straightforward way to accomplish this effectively and beautifully.

Best Planter Recommendation: Nile Wall Planter

5. Brighten up the Driveway

A driveway need not be simply a drab and functional space – planters are an easy way to add greenery to parking areas that immediately elevates its elegance and is proven to increase land value and the perceived value of goods and services offered at the property.

Best Planter Recommendation: Alzira Bowl Planter

Incorporating Jay Scotts Planters In The Hardscape Planning Phase

Planters are increasingly the star of hardscape and softscape landscape design. In fact, Jay Scotts works with landscape architects and property developers every day to help supply and specify planters during the hardscape planning phase. When planned in advance, professionals are able to deliver a cohesive softscape hardscape design that blows their customers away.

Our planters are made from commercial-grade fiberglass and finished with strong plant-based resin. Lightweight yet insanely durable, our planters are perfect for planting both indoors and outdoors.

All our planters come with an industry-leading 3-year warranty emphasizing the commitment and value of our fiberglass planters.

Feel free to reach out to us and our team will be more than happy to walk you through any outstanding questions or requests you might have.

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