Hardscape vs. Landscape Design

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The Yin and Yang of Landscape Design

Tackling your latest design project is challenging enough without being confused by the lingo of your landscaper! If you are working on plans for a new outdoor living space, you’ve probably heard the words “hardscape” and “landscape design” tossed around quite a bit, and sometimes interchangeably. What are these two very different concepts that are simultaneously one and the same?

The answer is that hardscape and landscape design are different, but that they are closely related two different sides of the same coin: the yin and the yang of landscape design.

While hardscape and landscape design are separate elements, they work together to create a functional and sophisticated design plan.

Hardscape refers to the solid, inanimate elements of an outdoor space such as rocks, pavers, and pergolas. Items that stand the test of time. Landscape, or softscape, refers to the softer, living and growing elements like trees, shrubs, and flowers.

Knowing more about the differences between hardscape and landscape design, and how they work together, will help you choose the right designers to help you make your outdoor dreams a reality.

Hardscape Elements & Considerations

  • Hardscape can be used to great effect to create separate destinations within a design and define the flow of your eye, and your feet, through the landscape.
  • Hardscape features should reflect your home’s existing architectural style in order to blend in and appear as a natural extension of your living space.
  • Hardscape areas are, as a rule, relatively low maintenance. Creating hard areas like patios and walkways significantly reduces the cost and time of maintaining your outdoor living area.
  • Hardscape designs need to be carefully planned and properly installed, especially here in Gainesville, FL where the ground is sandy and often unstable.
  • Hardscape elements like patios, outdoor kitchens, and fire features create more square footage for you to furnish and enjoy all year long.

Landscape Elements & Considerations

  • Landscaping softens the hard edges of your patio, walkway, deck, or driveway.
  • Landscaping serves to blend hardscape elements and make the overall design appear as one large extension of your living space.
  • Landscape elements grow and change over time making your space dynamic and seasonal.
  • Landscape elements need to be carefully chosen to create the desired aesthetic effect.
  • Landscape elements also need to reflect the realities of the season and climate in which they are placed. Here in Gainesville, it is difficult to cultivate a garden of low-moisture succulents, whereas in Nevada it might be impossible to incorporate our beautiful live oaks and Spanish moss into a design.
  • Too much landscaping leads to an overgrown jungle look that no longer feels intentional. Additionally, it adds to your workload with pruning, trimming, and weeding.

Hardscape and Landscape in Harmony

Both hardscape and landscape elements and techniques can be used to define spaces, paths, and walkways, but to different effect. The trick is balancing the use of both to create a harmonious design that flows seamlessly throughout your space.

Hardscape and landscape should always be considered together when creating an outdoor design because while polar opposites, one can only reach its maximum potential in the presence of the other.

There are important considerations in terms of skill level to make about who is designing and installing the hardscape and landscape portions of your design project. An expert landscaper may not be qualified to properly lay pavers for a new patio area, and some hardscapers may not have the requisite knowledge of local growing seasons and conditions to most effectively design and plant a thriving garden.

Work With Us

At FloridaScapes, we have over 20 years of experience working in both hardscape and landscape design and installation. We are the ideal choice for your next project specifically because of our expertise in both areas of landscape design. We work directly with an on-site nursery to source plants perfectly adapted for North Central Florida’s climate that soften the edges of all of our hardscape designs and help transform your new patio, pool deck, or walkway into a full-feature outdoor living paradise.