Designing an outdoor space is an intricate process that requires vision, planning, and an eye for aesthetics. Altogether, your outdoor space should form a cohesive design that’s both beautiful and suitable for your needs.
Whether you’re trying to install a simple patio or do a complete makeover of a landscape, there are two elements of your outdoor space that need to be considered: your hardscape and your softscape. To understand how hardscapes and softscapes work together, you first need to understand what each of them is.
Defining Your Hardscape
Put simply, your hardscape is any piece of your outdoor space that is manmade and permanent. Greenery doesn’t technically fit under this label, although plants can be included in your hardscape to enhance its beauty. Hardscapes are made of stone, wood, concrete, metal, and any other material that doesn’t grow or change with the seasons.
Typical hardscapes may include any of the following features:
- Fire Pits
- Lighting Fixtures
- Outdoor Fireplaces
- Outdoor Kitchens
- Paths and Walkways
- Pots and Planters
- Retaining Walls
- Seating Walls
- Shelters and Structures
- Water Features and Irrigation
The type and amount of hardscaping you choose to install will depend on a number of factors, including your goals for the space and its overall size. You also need to make choices about your materials. You may prefer stone over concrete because of its beauty and natural look. Or, you may wish to line the foundation of your home with a bed of gravel.
Putting in too much hardscaping can tip the balance, affecting the beauty and appearance of a property.
For example, a driveway that is too wide and too large could make a residential home look more like a commercial property. A backyard that is completely covered by a patio will seem lacking in greenery. However, it all depends on your goals. If you intend to host large outdoor gatherings, you may wish to build a driveway and patio hardscape that is large enough fit all your guests and their vehicles.
Choosing Your Softscape
Your softscape comprises the living, green, horticultural elements of your outdoor space – namely, plants and trees. Although a hardscape can certainly be beautiful, it’s your softscape that brings your outdoor space to life.
Your softscape may include any of the following features:
Within these categories, you’ll have several other distinct choices. There are several types of flowers, trees, and shrubs to choose from. For example, you may wish to favor evergreens to keep your space beautiful during the colder months, or you may wish to make the spring and summer extra special by installing extensive flower beds.
New England softscapes are distinct from those in other parts of the county. There are a number of native plants that grow well here, but many other indigenous North American plants fair just as well in the New England landscape. To get more ideas about what you can do with your softscape, speak to a landscaping professional.
Blending Your Hardscape and Softscape Together
Experienced landscapers can help you design your outdoor space so both your hardscape and your softscape mix together. They’ll meet with you to discuss your hopes for your outdoor space. Then, they’ll submit a preliminary, conceptual design and take your input before creating a master design.
Working together, you can create an outdoor space of uncompromising beauty that strikes a balance between hardscape and softscape, adding joy and value to your outdoor living space.