What Should You Focus More On: Softscapes or Hardscapes?

When you look at your landscape, what’s the first thing you focus on? The hardscape or the softscape? What should you focus on? Whether it’s the growing plants or the pathways that catch your eye first, it’s important to keep the balance of any space in your yard. So the simple answer is both! But now with the changing seasons, is there one you should actually be more focused on?


Softscapes are all of the growing elements of your yard; flowers, grass, trees, shrubs and bulbs. They add color and texture, as well as privacy, fragrance and even food. Softscaping can be used artfully to correct the feeling of a too-tall house, an overly-large or sterile patio. Softscaping often sets a mood or theme, brings color or interest all year and can be added to or changed at a relatively low cost. Too much softscaping can easily get out of hand though, looking messy (unintentionally), or being difficult to access without paths or walls to give it structure.

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Hardscaping refers to the paths, walks, drives, patios, pergolas and even water features that helps provide structure and space to enjoy nature. These are often made from natural stone, manmade stone, wood, concrete and/or metal. A retaining wall, outdoor kitchen, shed or fence may be considered hardscaping as well. Too much hardscaping may give you a feeling that there’s no place to relax, or it may bring a cold or sterile feeling. In adding hardscape features, one must consider where rain or snowmelt will flow to be absorbed by the earth. Because it is so permanent, oftentimes hardscaping requires a permit by local codes.

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While your plants (aka softscaping) may be slowly winding down and getting in their last bits of sunshine before the colder months take over, it may make more sense to cast them aside and focus more on your outdoor furniture set or keeping your walkway clear of any unnecessary dirt or debris. But don’t let the colder temperature fool you! There is still work to be done with your softscaping, for example mowing the lawn, weeding or even, yes, continuing to water your plants.

While you may think they are going to die in the near future anyway, continuing to water your plants and flowers is essential in maintaining the landscape you worked so hard for all summer and getting the most out of what you put into it. And by depriving your plants of this basic need, you may be at risk of killing them off for good instead of letting them naturally prepare to come back out for next spring.

So take the time to iScape your softscape AND hardscape, and see how much smoother your yard will transition from summer to fall. Our database on the app makes it super easy to create designs for both, so check it out!

Not an iScape user? Download iScape now and transform your outdoor living space today!