Hardscape Vs. Softscape: What’s the Difference?

hardscape Montgomery PAOur world thrives on balance. Light and dark. Happiness and sadness. Summer and winter.

The same goes for your landscaping, which isn’t truly complete without two elements that are complete opposites: softscape and hardscape.

Montgomery PA homes that want to look their best would do well to incorporate both softscaping and hardscaping into their properties, but what’s the difference between the two?


Hardscaping refers to things that are, well, hard:  stone, gravel, brick pavers, flagstone, retaining walls, garden walls, patios, driveways, walkways, outdoor kitchens, decks, fountains and gazebos.

These are the unmovable, unchanging elements of your yard. It’s typically where a landscaping company will begin when they lay out the shape of your property.

This is because hardscaping is typically incorporated right into the ground, often altering your landscaping, whether that means digging out dirt to build a retaining wall or removing soil to create space for your swimming pool.


Once hardscaping work is finished, it’s time to apply softscaping, which you can think of as the “living” side of your landscaping. Some parts of it might be temporary, such as flowers and vegetables, while others – grass, trees, soil and shrubs – are more permanent.

Either way, they’re constantly changing and evolving. Trees and shrubs keep growing, flowers bloom and wither. That’s one of the joys of softscaping: you can change it to fit the season or to meet your vision of how your home should look.

Softscaping also serves a more practical purpose. Hardscaping elements don’t typically absorb rainwater, which can lead to drainage issues. When you add softscaping like grass and other plants, you can balance out the low absorption caused by hardscaping.

Why do I need softscaping and hardscaping?

You’ve probably seen homes with too much hardscape. Montgomery, PA has its share of properties whose owners overdid their hardscaping, leading to a home that looks too impersonal, more like a commercial property than a dwelling space.

On the other hand, adding too much softscaping to your home can make the property look too wild and chaotic, as if no one had done any yardwork for weeks and weeks.

Your property needs softscaping to feel warm and welcoming, and hardscaping to keep things from looking too unruly.

This balance can also depend on the climate. In drier parts of the country, you won’t want to do as much watering, so your property should lean more toward hardscape. Montgomery, PA homeowners – and anyone living in wetter climates – should make sure their softscaping can handle runoff from their hardscaping. If not, you’ll need to add more drainage to your property.

What if I don’t have a big yard?

When we talk about the balance between hardscape and softscape in your landscape design, it’s easy to picture a sweeping piece of property filled with trees, plants, stone pathways and bubbling fountains.

But even the smallest yard can incorporate both softscaping and hardscaping when you plan things right. Remember that you can use vertical space to grow trees and shrubs or hanging planters on walls.

Raised planters featuring container gardens are an ideal way of blending hardscape and softscape, while still making the most of your space.

Are your Montgomery, PA hardscape and softscape out of balance? Realty Landscaping is ready to help. We’re an award-winning landscape design company that has spent decades working with homeowners like you to enhance their properties.

Contact us today to learn how we can make your hardscaping and softscaping work together.

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