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What is the Difference between Hardscaping and Softscaping?

What is the Difference between Hardscaping and Softscaping?

Probably everyone will have a fair idea of what landscaping is in the context of gardening. Basically, it’s the process of designing and forming a new layout for an outside space. 

Fewer people, however, are likely to have come across the related terms ‘hardscaping’ and ‘softscaping’, although once you do realise that they are related, it’s relatively easy to work out what they might encompass. This month, then, the team at Home View Landscapes will be taking a close look at the difference between these concepts, and how they can be combined to create a beautifully balanced garden.


At its simplest, softscaping comprises all the living elements in your garden – your plants and flowers, trees and shrubs, grass and vegetables. It also includes all the processes you have to go through to manage them, like planting, pruning, mowing, watering, weeding and fertilising. Softscaping gives your garden colour, beauty, aroma and mood. One of the great things about softscaping is that it’s relatively easy to change at any time – although it takes a lot more work to keep under control once it is in place!


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Hardscaping, on the other hand, encompasses all the non-living parts of a landscape. That could include pathways, paving, patios, decking, rockeries and fencing, together with the materials that make them up, such as concrete and stone. When you hardscape a space, you are giving it shape, texture and practicality, you’re creating the structures into and upon which your plants and flowers will fit and grow. When you’re hardscaping a space, it takes a lot more effort to get right and consequently a lot more effort to change if it doesn’t work – conversely, once you have got it right, it can last for years with minimum subsequent effort!

Putting hardscaping and softscaping together

Where good landscapers earn their crust, of course, is by bringing the hard and softscape elements of a garden together into one pleasing whole. That means having the right colours and smells around when you’re sitting on a warm summer’s evening on your decking; having the right plants alongside your paths and walkways to create a journey through your garden; or adorning walls and fences in a small garden with creepers, containers and hanging baskets to draw the eye upwards and give the sensation of more space than there actually is.


Here at Home View Landscapes, we’re experts at hardscaping, softscaping and landscaping, and we have years of experience transforming outside spaces for customers across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey and South West London. Take a look at our Case Studies to see examples of some of our work combining hard and soft elements. If you would like a free consultation to discuss your plans for your garden, why not give us a call or fill in our handy contact form today?



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