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.

Start Your Project Here

If you are dreaming of adding landscape features or a complete remodel, a consultaion and estimate is the place to start. Fill out our easy Consultation Form to start the process. We'll get back with you ASAP to set up a free consultation.

FREE Consultation

FREE Consultation

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

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

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 are delighted with the design and work that brought it to life. The yard looks so wonderful, we can’t believe it! Braden and his crew were phenomenal artisans and couldn’t have been nicer ...

Chris & Rich – Everett

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

Andrew & Kristie – Duvall

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

  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

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

  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

Delivers a quality product on time, on budget. Would not hesitate to call upon them in the future or recommend to others.

Charlie & Lori Ann – Seattle

Photo Highlights