HARDSCAPES vs SOFTSCAPES
Landscaping is a broad term that refers to the development of property through the addition of hardscapes, softscapes, water features, and architectural structures.
- Hardscapes are elements made of stone, tile, concrete, brick, and other hard material. Examples of hardscape include walkways, driveways, retaining walls, stairs, decks, patio covers, and more.
- In contrast, softscapes are made of plants. Examples of softscape include trees, shrubs, grass, ground cover, flowers, and other living plants.
- Water features are landscaping components that involve water. Examples include waterfalls, water fountains, waterways, pools, ponds, and more.
- Everything else can be categorized as Outdoor Decor. These are smaller, moveable landscaping structures such as statues, birdbaths, benches, potted plants, patio furniture, lighting, and more.
Well-designed landscapes will have a balance of hardscapes and softscapes. Smaller backyards should limit the number and size of the structures so the structures do not overwhelm the space. Large backyards can have more landscaping structures but they should be stragically placed for the best visual impact.
A good landscaper will know how to select plants so that you can have flowers from early spring to late autumn. In Southern California where drought is an issue, a landscaper should consider using at least some drought-tolerant plants. Another way to save on water is to incorporate more hardscapes and less softscape.
Other considerations for good landscaping design include considering:
- the topology (hills) of the land
- where the sun rises and sets,
- whether the property is north or south facing,
- which part of the yard has shade and which has sun,
- where to place lights so they are visually pleasing, yet offer safety,
- how much time the homeowner will spend on landscape maintenance.