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What are the Differences Between Hard and Soft Landscaping?

What are the Differences Between Hard and Soft Landscaping?

The chances are you’ve heard of the terms hard and soft landscaping. But what do they really mean?

When you’re redeveloping your garden, you need a good blend of the two so it’s important you understand the distinctions. 

Here at Gardenscapes, we understand the importance of both hard and soft landscaping and have put together a guide explaining the two elements and how they can help enhance your garden.   

What is hard landscaping?

In short, hard landscaping refers to all the hard materials in your garden, be it concrete, bricks or stone. Hardscape items are inanimate objects and don’t change, making them essential to tying your garden together with the rest of your home – and the outside world.  

As well as the basics, hard landscaping can also incorporate the likes of water features, gazebos, patios, decking and driveways.  

Hard landscaping forms the foundation of your outdoor space and shouldn’t be overlooked. Often landscapers can neglect the hard landscaping side of a job, tending to focus on plants and other softer features. 

However, doing this can leave your garden unbalanced and there is also an environmental benefit to hard landscaping when done properly. 

For example, if you install a pavement in your garden, it can help with runoff from rain, carrying water into soil and grass and providing it with the necessary nutrients to grow. As well as this, certain paving types may also be porous meaning water can soak directly into the soil below.     

What is soft landscaping?

In a similar way that hard landscaping refers to hard materials, soft landscaping refers to soft ones. In particular, soft landscaping focuses on things that grow in your garden such as flowers, shrubs and trees. 

Soft landscaping is a lot more changeable, particularly when you consider that the vast majority is alive. This means that as the seasons change, your soft landscaping may change too. For example, when it comes to plants, in wintertime you may decide to go for things such as pansies, snowdrops and honeysuckle. But when the temperature increases, begonias, geraniums and petunias are more appropriate.  

Ponds hold the unique position of being both hard and soft landscaping. While the brickwork and construction materials of a pond are inherently hard landscaping, the greenery that surrounds it comes under the umbrella of soft landscaping, combining the two landscaping elements in perfect harmony.    

Why is it important to balance hard and soft landscaping?

Both hard and soft landscaping play an integral role in the overall look and feel of your garden. You cannot have one without the other, and to keep the aesthetics nicely balanced, a good blend of the two is required.

Many people neglect hard landscaping somewhat. This is mainly because soft landscaping is often perceived as more enjoyable than the alternative. But, it’s important not to fall into this trap. 

Having significantly more soft elements than hard can make your garden feel a bit like a jungle. Conversely, an outdoor space that is predominantly made up of hard landscaping can make it look coarse, commercial and not very appealing for visitors.

Therefore, striking that perfect balance between the two is the way to go.   

If you’re on the lookout for a garden design and landscaping service that are experts in both hard and soft landscaping, then Gardenscapes are the ones for you. Whatever your requirements, the dedicated team are always on hand to create an outdoor space you can be proud of. For more information on how we can help you, contact us today



Verified customer feedback

4.95 rating based on

20 reviews


  • Richard

    Gardenscapes have just finished a 5 month project rebuilding part of the garden and replacing the drive. The hard and soft landscape works were comple...ted to a very high standard. Neal and Ainsley were a pleasure to work with and we would be happy to recommend Gardenscapes.

    9 months ago

  • Brian And Vanessa

    Gardenscapes installed steel edging to all the lawns in our garden. The work was carried out precisely as promised, to the highest standard and looks...great. The best aspect was the friendly service that we received - it was a pleasure to have Neal and Ainsley on site and nothing was too much trouble. I have no hesitation in recommending them for any garden project.

    1 year ago

  • Alex P, Leigh

    We have used Gardenscapes for a number of projects over the years including a driveway extension, new patio and creation of raised flower beds. Always...very happy with the commmunication and quality of the work and I would happily use them again.

    1 year ago

  • Sam

    Neal came round and quoted, talked us through the options and guided us to the best type of grass and base for our artificial grass. It was easy with...great communication, the work was Carried out on the day he said he was available which was very quick considering it was spring 4 years on out garden looks just as good, and we are so so happy we went with Neals advise! Thank you

    1 year ago

  • Sarah

    Gardenscapes laid a new patio and driveway for us and replaced our side alley gate. They were approachable and happy to answer queries from the very b...eginning. We were very pleased with the work, it was completed to a very high standard.

    1 year ago

  • Lynda Burnell

    Ainsley understood exactly what we were hoping to achieve . He and his team did a brilliant job, very pleased with the result.

    1 year ago

  • Alan

    Having sourced several quotes for a complete garden overhaul, we commissioned Gardenscapes upon meeting Neal and Ainsley - who listened to our brief, well as advised appropriately. They reviewed our requirements and discussed what would work best based on their experience and expertise. This is something we wanted in a landscape specialist: rather than just doing what the client wants. We have a mossy and boggy area of the garden thanks to the constant shade of a huge oak and we welcomed their gentle and expert advice on what would - and wouldn't - work in this section of the garden. The works consisted of removing existing paving and decking, garden levelling, providing astroturf samples at different price points as well as paving options and subsequent installations as well as a new tiered level. The Gardenscapes team were consultative throughout and extremely polite, respectful and tidy. they turned up early, worked hard all day and their communication from start to finish was superb and professional. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. We are thoroughly pleased with their work, value for money, and results.

    1 year ago

  • Sally Berryman

    In 2016 Neal’s Team installed a shed in out garden. The location beside the house was unstable so the shed was placed on top of a platform creat...ed by Neal and his team. In 2018 the team built a sun deck area in a different part of the garden. This too has successful.

    1 year ago

  • Emily Dye

    We had a new patio laid and a soak away put into our lawn. Neal and his colleague were professional, thorough and tidy, and completed our job to a hig...h standard. Highly recommend

    1 year ago

  • Pammie

    Where do I begin? Neal was the only guy to actually ask me what I wanted in my garden rather than telling me what I should have. That greatly impresse...d me and I was not disappointed in his work or his workforce. He completely relandscaped my back garden including a pond. Highly recommend this company.

    1 year ago

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COVID-19 update

Gardenscapes are still open for Contactless Surveys & Quotations - we can arrange video surveys online to give you a quotation. Once restrictions are lifted, we will then be able to visit and fulfill any landscaping projects. Call us today on 01932 485 273 for expert advice!