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

I enjoyed working with Jim and his team so much I only wish I had more projects for him to do right now!  They are courteous, respectful, careful of the surroundings and very pleasant to work ...

Mike & Penny – Woodinville

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

We have been very pleased with the work done by Reynolds Landscape.  We love the layout of our backyard and the selection of plants.

Don & Linda – Redmond

  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

We have been extremely pleased with the product, the workmanship, the staff and crew and the follow-up. Based on our experience, we can confidently recommend Reynolds Landscape.

George & Sandra – Sammamish

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 had no clue what could be done with our yard but we wanted something special. Jim listened to our ideas and came up with a perfect plan. We love the outdoors and wanted to spend time in our yard. ...

Robert McLeod – Redmond

We were very pleased with the final results of our backyard landscaping. You never know when you start how the finished product will actually look, but Jim and his foreman made sure that we were ...

Phil – Seattle

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

This project took 8 days to complete from bush removal to dirt work and mulch and replanting of plants, bushes, trees and boulders. Jim(the owner) went over price options and was great to deal with. ...

Jill – Woodinville

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