What's the difference between Hardscape and Softscape elements?

Essentially, these two are complete opposites that are equally necessary to pull together any landscape project.

paver driveway that leads to stone, rock, pebble, shrub surrounding outdoor recreational area, stunning design of hardscape and softscape


  • A hardscape is literally the "hard' parts of your yard, which includes the entire surrounding area of your home; front entry, walk-up, driveway, patio, outdoor kitchen, outdoor fireplace, garden pathway, retaining walls- the list of what is considered a hardscape goes on as far as you can imagine. This is our area of expertise as you might have noticed on the Services page of our site! Whatever your hardscape needs are Crestones Landscape Design is well-versed in the design and build process. Not to mention we offer a free consultation to answer your questions about how to address your yard's specific landscape needs such as drainage, high-traffic area, soil erosion etc., which should be brought up at the beginning of your project consult. You'll want a design that is not only aesthetically what you envisioned but functionally meets your needs and will last for many years to come.

  • Although, many attribute Frank Lloyd Wright with the coined phrase "form follows function" it was actually Louis Sullivan (his boss at one point) that stated this! Wright went on to adapt the phrase to "form and function are one." Either way, we agree! Our garden state has four stunning seasons and you need a yard that's ready for each of them. Let us know if you have questions.


  • Softscapes include all of the organic elements that are alive and surrounding your beautiful hardscape elements. Think flowers, trees, shrubs- anything that grows and buds. It is important to ensure that softscapes are manageable and accessible. How will you water your plants in the garden if there is no path to get to them? Or, how will you keep your shoes from getting muddy when there isn't anything to contain the water after plants have received such care? Furthermore, hardscapes can help homeowners maintain a visually balanced yard between soft and hard elements. You don't want a concrete or plant-based jungle overrunning your yard. Balance, balance, balance.

  • Not sure how to do it? We recommend you make a list of concerns you have for the yard (water drainage etc.) and visually what you'd like to see in your yard. From there we can help you craft a plan, and start making your outdoor living vision a reality.

softscape versus hardscape backyard project, boulders, stone, shrubs


  • Hardscapes can be stationary and movable parts of your landscape. For example, pavers can be rearranged and replaced. Whereas your retaining walls are built for stationary support and soil retention.

  • A hardscape does not vary organically like softscape elements.

  • A hardscape can occur naturally or be a manmade outdoor structure.

  • Different hardscape materials will have varying effects on your yard's environment. Certain materials can prevent water absorption, others can redirect water runoff from gutters, which is why you should prepare a list of concerns for your first consultation before we get to the fun part of material selection!

  • Should an individual paver be broken it can be replaced if necessary! Plus, as mentioned on our pavers page there is no wait time after installation. For more information on pavers, and installation click here.

  • Softscapes can grow and change over time so make sure you consider this when you are at the planting phase of your project! You want to plan for up growth and various seasons.

Yard Blog Easy Insight

Still having a hard time (no pun intended) remembering the difference between a soft and hardscape? Just think plants are soft to the touch and a retaining wall is hard for example. They are both literal definitions that are umbrella terminology encompassing a plethora of yard elements.

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