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Soft landscaping vs. Hard landscaping- what’s the difference and which is right for you

Both soft landscaping and hard landscaping are important in good landscape design. When there isn't a combination of both types of element, landscape design looks incomplete and fails to impress.

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So What Is The Difference Between Soft & Hard Landscaping?

Hard and soft landscape elements are very different but need one another to work. Hard landscaping refers to the heavier, firmer elements of landscape design - think rocks, stone and pathways. Soft landscaping, on the other hand, refers to the lighter elements like plants, soil, flowers and even colour schemes.

Let's look at the question 'What is hard and soft landscaping?' in greater depth:

Hard Landscaping

This comprises the large pieces of hard materials that shape a landscape structure. Materials like stone, wood and masonry are used to create a sense of space when landscaping. Aesthetically, hard landscaping enables the outdoor space to complement the look of a building. It also helps solve practical problems like drainage, organising outdoor living spaces and preventing erosion for extra longevity in the design. Hard landscaping is expensive, and it's important to get the design right as it is difficult to change once executed.

Soft Landscaping

This is all about the living part of your landscape design. The lawns, plants, trees, shrubs and flowers are all components of soft landscaping. Often, it is inseparable from hard landscaping; for example, the materials needed to create a pond in a business garden are hard landscaping elements, but the pond itself is a soft landscaping element. It's important to note that soft landscaping elements require maintenance to look their best. It’s also key not to forgo soft landscaping, writing it off as “the small details” – these little touches really make a difference to the typical business grounds and the building’s atmosphere.

Putting The Two Together

When designing a landscape, the two elements must be considered together. Commercial soft landscaping is often what will make the design look most beautiful, but the hard landscaping elements create the framework upon which the soft landscaping will be placed.

Hard landscaping includes considerations like installing sprinkler systems and working to prevent excessive absorption of water and minerals. Many designers will carry out the hard landscaping process first, both in design and execution. Once this is complete, the soft landscaping features can be added. These features add detail and vibrancy to a landscape. They bring the design to life; without them, a landscape looks cold and empty.

The Bottom Line

Without hard landscaping, an outdoor space looks wild but can still be shaped to work well. Without soft landscaping, however, the space will look cold and unappealing. The two elements are very different from one another, but they rely on one another in many ways. Weedfree Landscapes offer quality soft commercial landscape services to make outdoor spaces look great.

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Image source: Pixabay

Tim Bower
Post by Tim Bower
May 4, 2020
Tim Bower is the Director of Weedfree and is an expert in grounds maintenance and keeping your business looking great all year round.