Hardscape vs Softscape – When do you need a pro?

basket full of fresh vegetables

Hardscape and softscape explained.

There are two main components in landscape design – Hardscape and softscape. Hardscape refers to permanent, foundational elements such as stone and rock, patios and driveways, walls and stairways, waterfalls and ponds – elements that permanently change the shape, structure and characteristics of the land. Softscape refers to the living, horticultural and esthetic elements of a landscape like lawn, shrubs, trees, vegetable gardens, flower gardens, soil and bark – elements that live and grow, add character and beauty in, on and around the hardscape. Your landscape project will most likely combine both elements.

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When considering a landscape project, determining if any hardscaping is desired or required is a key element of determining if a landscape firm will not just be desired but required to do the construction. Hardscaping is typically beyond the capabilities of the average homeowner. It requires expertise in landscape construction, availability of and ability to operate heavy equipment, and the knowledge, experience and ability to determine and provide appropriate materials.

Typical areas of a landscape project that will require a landscape professional are:

  • Major earth moving like terracing a hillside or building a retaining wall
  • Installing large boulders for accents, walls or benches
  • Installing driveways, walkways, stairways and patios
  • Building water features like ponds, waterfalls,streams, outdoor kitchens and fire pits

As expected, hardscaping uses hard materials and heavy equipment. Common materials used in hardscaping are:

  • Large rocks & boulders
  • Flagstone
  • Pavers
  • Brick
  • Concrete

Common equipment required for hardscaping are:

  • Bulldozers and Graders
  • Backhoes & Excavators
  • Large trucks & trailers

A landscape project that only requires softscaping may not require a landscape company. If it is a gardening or maintenance project, your time and budget may be the main determining factors. If, on the other hand, it involves a larger project that will include a design plan, horticultural knowledge and experience or a large property that you could never softscape yourself, a landscape professional is your best option. Having a professional design and build your landscape, even though little hardscaping may be required, offers a number of valuable benefits.

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  • Landscape designers are educated and artistic. They understand best use of land, what plants are best where, how to meet your maintenance needs and, most of all, how to design your landscape so it will look fantastic once completed and will become more beautiful as the years pass.
  • Landscape professionals understand how to identify and solve potential issues involving water, soil, sun and shade.
  • They have the beef! – the manpower and equipment to perform the job correctly and efficiently.

Is a landscape firm the best choice for your project? Here are a few questions that may help your decision.

  1. Do you need any hardscaping?
    • A patio, walkway or driveway built?
    • Retaining wall or teraforming?
    • Boulder benches or accents?
    • Water feature or fire pit?
  2. Do you need water remediation or hillside control?
  3. Does your project need a design plan?
  4. Do you need horticultural expertise?
  5. Is your project too large for you to handle?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, hiring a landscape professional may be your best or only option.

Reynolds Landscape is a full service design-build landscape firm with 30 year experience. If you would like a consultation about your project Contact us here.

Testimonials

Jim and his team finished the landscaping today, and it is truly spectacular.  Thanks again for your landscaping ideas, design and patience.  It was a pleasure working with you and your ...

Ed & Laverne – Sammamish

Reynolds Landscape gave us a good price. The job was done on time and with professionalism. One small part of the yard was missed, but the contractor assured us they would be back to complete the job ...

Rick – Snohomish

Jim's team graded my side yard, put down a patio, added a rockery and landscaping, and also added a flagstone patio in the front of the house. Every day the site was clean when they left. Everything ...

Danielle – Seattle

Jim is such a great guy…completely trustworthy and 100% reliable.  The number of compliments we’ve received on the work Jim and his team did for us have been too many to count.  You ...

Eric & Shelley – Snohomish

We had a beautiful front and back yard to enjoy the summer of 2009, thanks to the design and implementation by the Reynolds Landscape team.  We hope to do more in the future with Jim.

Tony & Lynn – Mercer Island

I contacted three landscape designers/companies for help. Out all three, Reynolds was the most responsive, affordable and convenient. Plus, I felt that Jim, the owner, was really listening to my ...

Bianca – Sammamish

Jim decided more than we asked in that he designed our front and back yards without a “formal” plan.  We trusted him to do us right and he did!!

Louis & Carol – Bellevue

I have used Reynolds Landscape for a major grounds remodel at my business and for smaller projects at both my residential and professional buildings. Jim and his crew truly provide an artistic touch ...

Dr Lynn – Monroe

We have participated in nothing short of a miracle, and with a contractor/crew that is quite possibly the best we have ever worked with on ANYTHING. Reynolds Landscaping is honest, straightforward, ...

Anne – Sammamish

  I had worked with Jim Reynolds and his crew last year, so I already knew their work. There were no surprises this year. They were on time, worked quickly, made suggestions for improvements, and ...

Kristina – Bellevue

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