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.

Click to enlarge

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.

Click to enlarge

  • 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

Eight years and our garden looks wonderful. We would not hesitate to recommend Reynolds Landscape and team.

Nelson & Cheryl – Kirkland

We had Reynold's Landscaping come out to the house to do a patio extension. The crew was professional, courteous, clear in their explanation of the process and thorough in the clean up. We're ...

Tony & Mika

Your yard is a canvas and the people at Reynolds Landscape are artists.  Their work is outstanding.

John and Lisa – Bellevue

We are thrilled with our yard.  Jim and his team were amazing. It turned our better than we expected.

Andrew & Kristie – Duvall

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 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

The waterfall and rock work in my backyard exceeded my expectations.  Reynolds Landscape was a pleasure to work with, from planning to finish.

Camillo & Sarah – Sammamish

We have used Reynold’s Landscaping for outdoor projects since we bought our first home in Redmond in 1996. Now we live in Woodinville, and we keep going back because not only is Jim and his team ...

Kim – Woodinville

  We are delighted with our new outdoor living room and connecting spaces. Our project created a welcoming environment at every entrance/exit of the house and improved upon previous outdoor ...

Mary Jane – Issaquah

They were very professional and knowledgeable. They also cleaned up thoroughly after every day they worked. They kept me very aware of how the job was going and made sure that I was very happy ...

Stella – Bothell

Photo Highlights