Softscape. Hardscape. If you’re new to the world of landscaping, chances are you’ve heard those two words but perhaps you aren’t exactly sure what each encompasses. But maybe you’re determined to learn about each as you ponder what you’re hoping to do to spruce up your tired outdoor area or to create a new garden and other outdoor elements that will make your home extra special.
What is softscape?
Softscape is a term that has gained popularity within the last decade or so, largely due to garden-based shows aired on channels such as HGTV, where the term appears to have been coined.
The term “softscape” refers to all the living elements in a landscape design. The obvious opposite of hardscape – which includes “hard” elements such as bricks, concrete, stones, and timber – softscape elements include grass, trees, flowers, shrubs, and plants. Water features may also be referred to as softscape elements as are soils, loams, or mulches that are not rock-based.
Unlike the term hardscape, however, all softscape elements aren’t exactly soft. If you ran into a tree trunk, for example, you’d be hard-pressed to describe it as soft! So, it’s easier to think of the term as that which refers to the horticultural elements of your design.
Using softscape in your landscaping
There are no hard and fast rules as to how to employ the use of different softscape elements in your landscaping design. The possibilities are endless and in which direction you proceed with your plants, hedges, shrubs, flowers, and more will depend totally on the picture you wish to convey when your landscaping is complete. That design might also change with the seasons since you’ll likely be planting different elements at various times of the year.
The trick is to artfully combine your softscape elements with your hardscape elements so that everything looks cohesive. However, homeowners can also use their softscape features to soften their hardscape. For example, if the sharp edges of your garden walls, retaining walls, patios or other hard elements make your garden look less inviting than you’d like, you can soften those edges with bushes/shrubs that can be shaped into gentle curves or colorful flowers that make the area look more cheerful and less stark.
While making plans for your outdoor area, it’s essential to remember that softscape elements are generally much less expensive than hardscape features like walls and patios. That’s super important to homeowners who are just starting out and/or those who have a limited budget for their outdoor space. Furthermore, hardscape elements are hard to change if, a few years down the road, you decide you’d like to do something different with your outdoor property.
Conversely, softscaping is less expensive to purchase and install in general, and if you need or want a change in scenery in 2, 5, or 10 years, for example, you can achieve that change fairly inexpensively by instituting some simple horticultural changes.
Of course, your softscape elements require more care than your hardscape elements, in most cases. You’ll need to water your plants, trim your trees and hedges, and mow your lawn. Those can be responsibilities you take on as a homeowner or turn over to a professional landscaper, like the experts at Huckleberry Landscape Design. Hence, the level of responsibility you wish to assume will also determine in which direction you go with your softscaping and just how elaborate it might be.
Need help coming up with a softscape plan for your outdoor space? Huckleberry Landscape Design can take your plans and make them a reality or assist you in designing the perfect blueprint for your backyard or other outdoor area. Call us to schedule an appointment for a free consultation or to brainstorm with one of our landscaping professionals.