You want your landscaping to be aesthetically pleasing, yet functional. In order to achieve that goal, you’ll want to incorporate the two main elements that are associated with landscape design: hardscaping and softscaping. But what’s the difference between the two?

Here’s a brief overview.

What is Hardscape Design?

As the term suggests, hardscaping refers to all of the hard elements in your yard; concrete, stone, bricks, pavers, etc. These elements are usually stationary, meaning they’re fixed in place; however, some features may be movable. They’re inanimate objects, too (non-living).

Examples of hardscaped structures and surfaces include:

  • Driveways
  • Walkways
  • Retaining walls
  • Gravel walkways
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Outdoor fireplaces
  • Decks
  • Gazebos
  • Water features, such as a waterfall or a pond
  • Planters


What is Softscape Design?

Softscape refers to the “soft” components of your landscape; the horticultural, animate (living) elements. These elements grow, change, and can be either stationary or movable. Examples of softscape elements include:

  • A lawn
  • Trees
  • Shrubs
  • Perennial plants
  • Annual flowers
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Weeds (yes, even weeds are considered softscape elements)

Blending Hardscape and SoftscapeTwo Together

A well-designed, functional, and aesthetically pleasing landscape combines a balance of the two elements. Too much of one or the other can negatively impact the look of your yard; for instance, too many hardscape elements can make a landscape look cold and austere. Blend together the two.

For example, line a paver walkway with annuals or perennials, delineate and dress up flower beds with natural stone edging, and place planters filled with flowers or shrubs on your deck or patio.