Hardscape And Landscape Design

What’s the Difference Between Hardscape and Landscape

Hardscape And Landscape-flower-design
Flower Design

The use of landscape and hardscape is seen just about everywhere, in our yards, our neighborhoods, as we travel our communities. The use of landscape and hardscape are all around us creating a beautiful natural flow as they complement each other.

I have work in the field of landscape and gardening now for the past 25 years and have used plant materials that highlighted the hardscape creating a continuous flow of beauty that looked all-natural. So then what is hardscape? I am so happy that you asked.

What is hardscape?

Hardscapes are none living which includes Concrete walls, pavements, sidewalks, houses, buildings, wooden or chain-linked fences, etc… anything or architectural structures that are made out of wood, brick, stone, wood, concrete, or other solid materials are considered to be hardscape.

What is Softscapes?

Well, I think we all know this one, the landscape is not just merely the designing of a  piece of undeveloped land but the use of garden plant species that’s of different sizes, textures, colors, and designs to create an all-natural look. In short, Softscape is plant materials including grasses.

Water Features?

Water features such as birdbaths and fountains can add flavor especially if it’s a birdbath or water feature with flowing water. These features are a great way to provide water for wildlife which I think is so cool. Some people may prefer to install the non-flowing water type adding soil and plants this is also a great idea by combining hard and soft scape. Installing a few garden plants around your flowing water feature along with wildlife stopping by to get a drink gives a feeling of nature in the wild.

Concrete Walls

Concrete walls can be pretty expensive depending on the size and the design, walls provide not only beauty but privacy and security along with acting as an indicator to mark the boundary line.  Garden plants to install near a wall to soften up some of that concrete would be flowering plants, a hedge of plants, Palms, or other tall plants equally spaced.

A Patio

A patio is a great hardscape feature that provides the perfect outdoor living space to connect with nature enjoying the outdoor experience, hosting family gatherings, sitting down with a nice book, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, or creating a romantic setting as both you and your significant other watches the stars and the moon or getting up early and watching the rising of the sun in the stillness and coolness of the morning.

Take advantage of your patio by installing furniture and decorative pots with beautiful flowering plants. On the tables, I would install 6-inch pots with flowering or variegated plants (plants with colorful leaves). Adding a few floor plants in decorative containers will also add to this beautiful setting.


Having a driveway can add to the overall appeal of your home, the driveway is one of the first hardscapes that’s seen from the public view or as your home is approached. Sprucing up this hardscape will increase the value of your property.

The photo above gives an idea of connecting softscape with your hardscape driveway. There so many ways to approach this because driveways can be of any shape or size. Garden plants should correspond with your driveway size. For example, if your drive is large then, by all means, use large plants.

Garden Comforts

If you can’t afford large plants then go with your budget and overtime those plants will reach maturity. A word of caution here, get to know your plant species at maturity because some plants at maturity reach heights of 2-3 feet. You want to install plants that will reach a high that will complement your driveway. You also want to have colors so whichever variety that’s chosen mixes it up a bit.

Plant Containers

Plant pots or containers can be placed on either side of your door entrance with beautiful garden plants or other areas of your outdoor living space. What I love about container gardening is that containers can always be moved around for aesthetics or in adverse conditions. Plants that are grown in containers require special care so get to know about proper care before installing. For more on container-grown plants refer to the category section.

A chain-link fence or wooden fence

A chain-link fence or wooden fence serves the purpose of creating a boundary line, security, and privacy. To soften up this area install palms, shrubs, or flowering plants groomed into a hedge. This hardscape feature can work wonders once garden plants are properly installed and maintained.

 Our House

Garden Design-Landscaping-ideas-for-your-front-yard
A beautiful design

The homes that we live in are also considered to be hardscape, and there are so many ways to approach installing garden plants. Really there are no set rules except for a few when it comes to choosing the right location to install garden plants seeing that some homes have what is know as microclimate meaning different parts of the yard may have a different temperature depending on the lighting conditions choose plants for the right location along with placing a plant that is based on its height at maturity for example what you don’t want to do is to install a plant that reaches 10 ft or taller in front of a window that’s only 4-5 ft from the ground.

This poor placement choice will not only be a security risk meaning you don’t have a clear view from the inside but will also present maintenance problems. Get to know all about the care including the height of the plants that are chosen at maturity to avoid these issues.


There is nothing like having that board finish that’s nicely polished. The presence of a deck can add a touch of class that will increase your property’s value with such flavors that will bring that WOW. Installing flowering plants around the border of your deck along with placing a few pieces of furniture on your deck with decorative containers and flowering plants will create such an enhancement with a nice polish finish that’s fit for a king.


Arbors are stylish, these hardscapes come in many styles, shapes, and colors which creates a romantic royal setting. But what adds to the overall appeal of arbors is the presence of garden plants. Garden plants such as bougainvilleas are climbing flowering plants once placed near your arbor will attach and climb which I think is truly amazing. Other climbers or Vines will do just as well. This is a great way to combine hardscape and softscape for a pleasing design.


Gazebos are a hardscape that deserves their place in the landscapes and garden areas. Gazebos can be of just about any size, design, and color. These hardscapes make a great outdoor living space to take shelter from the sun or the rain while enjoying the great outdoors. A combination of flowering plants and other greenery will set the stage for an outdoor experience granting the privacy of a quiet getaway as you sit back and enjoy those cool days or evenings connecting with nature or with family and friends, or that special someone.

The final word

From what we have discussed we have seen the benefits of including softscapes with our hardscapes to create a beautiful design with a continuous flow that complements each other. Can you imagine beautiful homes, buildings, and architectural structures without the presence of softscape (garden plants)?

Both softscape and hardscape play a major role as they go hand in hand to bring that WOW that’s breath-taking. So now that we see the importance of combining the two let’s do what we can to create a work of beauty or should I say a work of art. Hardscape and landscape working hand in hand to create beauty and style.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

8 thoughts on “Hardscape And Landscape Design”

  1. This clears up a lot of confusion for me, because I’ve only recently become interested in gardening. I’ve taken to reading books and articles on gardening, but in no particular or logical order. Thus, I’ve run across a number of these terms and not known what exactly they were talking about. I’ve seen the terms “hardscape” and “softscape” before, but I just thought softscape was “softer” materials, not necessarily the plants themselves. I also wasn’t familiar with the term “arbor.” I think I learned more in this brief article than in all the past 6 months or so of reading gardening magazines. Thanks for sharing!


    • I am so happy to help and you have made my day with your kind words. Wishing you much success as you continue your research on gardening and if there is anything else you would like to know let me know and I will be glad to help as best as I can. Have a good day.

  2. Thanks for your this wonderful softscape and hardscape review, it re-enkindle the love for flowering plants along our pathways and garden. The creativity of a beautiful art work like those in the review is necessited with that fact that apart from it awesome look it also bring that WOW! that’s refreshing breath-intake to  our surroundings.

  3. Hey,

    I have enjoyed reading about the benefits of including softscapes with hardscapes which help us to create a beautiful design with a continuous flow that complements each other.

    When I was young, I had a mini garden where I had a lot of fun. Reading this really reminded me of my old days. I totally agree that the view when we combine them together is breathtaking.
    Thanks for posting such interesting information. 

    With regards, 


    • Hardscape and softscape can bring that wow once properly combined. It is so amazing how we can bring beauty to our surroundings once properly planned. So happy to help and all the best to you.

  4. Hello there. Thanks for this great article, I had an illuminating experience while reading. Personally for me I would go with more of landscape in creating a garden as I feel a garden should reflect nature as such it has to be made with as much natural stuffs as possible. Hardscape should be limited as much as possible this would help portray the garden as it should. Nature shouldn’t be subdued too much while creating a garden 

    • Hello and thanks so much for responding, I believe that hardscape and landscape go hand in hand as long as there is no overkill but a well thought out plan that’s not only pleasing but brings balance. Thanks again and have a good day.


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