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Softscaping VS. Hardscaping – Whats the difference?

If you’ve ever talked to professional landscape company, you have DSCN1638probably heard the terms “hardscaping” and “softscaping.” They are two types of landscaping, and many landscape design companies like Arbor Hills, offer both services.


DSCN2052The basics: Hardscaping and softscaping design are really just two different types of landscaping. In fact, it shouldn’t really be thought of as hardscape vs. softscape design, but rather hardscape and softscape design – the best landscaping actually combines both.

Hardscaping and softscaping should complement each other and landscaping1create a nice balance. You need hardscape designs to make up the core of your landscaping, but remember, no landscape design is complete without the plants and flowers (softscaping)!


Meaning: Hardscaping refers to the solid, hard elements in landscape design that stay the same for several years.

Examples of hardscape designs are:

  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Driveways
  • Walkways and stairs
  • Water features
  • Retaining walls
  • Outdoor kitchens

Many different materials are used in hardscape designs, which include:

  • Slate
  • Flagstone
  • Terrazzo
  • Brick
  • Concrete


Meaning: Softscaping is unlike hardscaping in that it doesn’t have that long-term or permanent quality.

Examples of softscaping includes:

  • Plants
  • Shrubs and hedges
  • Flowers
  • Vines
  • Trees
  • Turf

Softscape designs change more often. You’ll probably change your plant design annually or more often than that, but once you install a new patio, you’ll keep it for a long time – probably 10 years or more.