What is hard and soft landscaping?

09/07/2019

Revamping your garden can be such an exciting task. You can begin to think about the design of your patio or that vegetable garden that you’ve wanted to create for years. But before you can do any of these things, you need to consider both hard and soft landscaping and how they can work together in the space you’ve got. 

If you haven’t heard of hard or soft landscaping before, we cover everything you need to know in this handy post to help you create a sublime outdoor space. 

What is hard landscaping?

Hard landscaping is the ‘hard’ components of your garden that help to make up the general layout and structure. It encompasses paving, decking, brick walls, fences, pathways, etc. It’s a way to describe the elements of your garden that are permanent and that won’t often be replaced or changed. 

Generally, hard landscaping doesn’t include anything living, such as grass or shrubs, however it can include large trees and hedges, as these are features  that make up the structure of your garden and are unlikely to be moved.

When it comes to landscaping a garden, you should always consider the hard landscaping first. It forms the basis of the garden’s structure and will remain the same for a long time. 

This means that before you buy any plants, you need to plan your layout. Think about the purpose of the garden. Do you want a quiet corner where you can sit with a book or do you want a large empty space where the children can run around? You should consider where you want your pathways to go - and whether you want a curved or a straight path - and decide if you want a pond or another similar feature to act as a focal point. These things will all impact on how your garden is laid out. 

large garden with hedges and a pathway and a big fountain in the middle

Once you’ve decided on these things, you need to think about the more technical aspects of your landscape, such as drainage, pipework and guttering. Do you know where all the pipes are? Does your house need drainage installing? These are important layout features that should be considered before you start to add borders or grass.

What is soft landscaping?

Soft landscaping is more what you may consider general gardening. Once you’ve laid out the structure, soft landscaping is the flowers, grass, shrubs, soil, mulch etc. that you include. These things all help to ‘soften’ the landscape and can be used to connect the hard elements like the fences, walls and pathways. 

Soft landscaping should always come after hard landscaping, and it’s a step that shouldn’t be rushed. 

Make sure you take the time to get to know your garden. For example, is there a particular corner that doesn’t get a lot of sunshine? Or maybe there’s a particular corner that rainwater drains to which could drown any plants that were in a border. Thinking of things in advance could save you money in the long run as your plants are more likely to survive if you’ve thought about the conditions they’ll be in. It’ll also help your plants to thrive. 

You should carefully consider which shrubs you want to plant. Remember to ensure that you have a balance between evergreen and deciduous plants to keep your garden looking full all year round. 

As with hard landscaping, you should also think about the purpose of your garden. Do you want a wild garden that encourages bees and other insects to thrive? Or do you want a neat, orderly space that’s full of easy-to-maintain perennials and plants? 

There are lots of questions to consider, but they will help you to narrow down your options to create a truly beautiful landscaped garden.


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