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 Reynolds and his crew were a pleasure to work with... If I wanted something done they either did it or explained why it couldn't be done. If I didn't like something they did, it was redone ...

Donald – Everett

Our home sits on a very steep slope. After 5 years of fighting the overgrowth we wanted to do something with it that would make it useful and manageable. After talking with a number of landscapers, ...

Dr. John – Redmond

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

When I discussed what I would like to see in my yard - I was not only heard, but given better ideas than I ever imagined. My back yard was transformed into a vision beyond hopes and in a very timely ...

Bonnie – Bellevue

We have done 3 major landscaping projects in the past 17 years; we have experience designing and executing large scale landscaping projects. I would recommend Jim as well as hire him again. His staff ...

Mark & Cindy – Kirkland

We love the design and work that Jim has done in our yard!!!

Doug & Julee – Woodinville

Jim Reynolds (the owner) came to our home and personally listened to our wants for the project, both evaluating what we wanted to achieve, and what type of upkeep and maintenance we wanted for the ...

Jonathan – 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

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 redid our back yard/patio area last summer…not particularly a huge job but it did completely change (huge improvement) the feel of the yard. I would definitely hire him again. Jim was detailed ...

Steve & Karen – Woodinville

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