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Hardscaping vs Softscaping: What’s the Difference?

Did you know that landscaping can raise the value of your home anywhere from 5.5 to 12.7 percent? Landscaping adds curb appeal, making your house stand out.

Even if you aren’t looking to sell, good landscaping can turn your yard into an outdoor oasis. There are two essential elements to landscaping: hardscaping and softscaping. When balanced well, these two elements can mean the difference of thousands of dollars in your home’s value and can make a backyard gathering feel like a luxurious getaway.

This article will explore the differences between hardscaping and softscaping and how they work together in landscaping. You will learn to use both to turn your yard into an outdoor oasis.

Hardscaping vs. Softscaping

Put simply, hardscaping is the hard elements in your yard like cement, bricks, and stone. Softscaping is the living, growing stuff, like trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Your driveway, patio, deck, fence, gravel, planters, and statues are all examples of hardscaping. These are elements that are unchanging. This doesn’t mean you can’t move them; you can move a flower pot can to a different location, but the pot itself doesn’t go through any transformation.

In comparison, softscaping is constantly changing and growing. The trees lose their leaves in the winter and grow new leaves in the spring. The grass grows and must be mowed, and the flowers bloom. 

Softscaping adapts to the climate. Hardscaping remains as it is.

You can think of hardscaping as a raised garden bed and softscaping as the vegetables growing in it. The wood or metal from the bed itself isn’t changing, but the living plants it contains are. Both play a role in the process of growing vegetables, just as both play a role in good landscaping. 

How Hardscaping and Softscaping Work Together

There may be a house in your neighborhood that always seems unkempt. Perhaps it is abandoned, or your neighbor never seems to remember to mow the lawn. Instead of the landscaping making it look beautiful, it looks like it is turning back into a jungle.

This is an example of a bad balance between hardscaping and softscaping. The jungle-like yard has too much softscaping that isn’t balanced out by elements that make it look civilized.

The reverse can be true as well. Too much hardscaping makes a backyard look like an industrial parking lot. You would never want your yard to be entirely gravel with a big metal fence; that is neither inviting nor attractive.

Instead, striking a balance between hardscaping and softscaping is the goal of landscaping. Hanging a few plants on your fence or lining your driveway with trees can make your landscaping feel balanced. And the balance between the two allows you to enjoy the outdoors while still feeling right at home.

Landscaping Requires Both

In some ways, hardscaping and landscaping are complete opposites. Yet they work together to strike a balance between manmade and nature-made. Used together, they can turn a yard into a haven.  

If you are looking to update your landscaping, remember to incorporate elements of both softscaping and hardscaping to create a balance.

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