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The Differences Between Hardscaping and Softscaping

Updated: Feb 23, 2020

The Differences Between Hardscaping and Softscaping

The main difference between hardscaping and softscaping is that hardscaping refers to the hard elements of your yard, such as concrete, patios, driveways, stones, etc, which are typically more permanent. Softscaping refers to the soft elements of your yard, such as grass, flowerbeds, and other living items, which can be removed or replaced more easily. Both hardscaping and softscaping are essential parts of a perfect outdoor space. One common mistake homeowners make with their yards is neglecting one or the other. An outdoor sanctuary cannot be developed with only one of these elements. Both are equally important and rely on each other for the perfect balance between living space and ambience. Learn more about the differences between hardscaping and softscaping and how to position them against each other to build the perfect outdoor space with this simple guide.


Hardscaping is a term that refers to all solid elements within an outdoor living area. Hardscaped items are nonliving and do not grow.

Some examples of popular hardscaping in yards include:

Driveways: hard, unmovable pathways from the street to the house or garage

Walkways: often made of brick, stone, or concrete, they connect various areas of your yard

Bridges: hard elements of a yard that traverse water features

Patios: typically poured with concrete, laid with bricks, or installed with other hard elements

Outdoor walls: usually made of stone or brick

There are plenty of other hardscaping elements. The list above is simply an example of the most common types. Another type of hardscaping gaining in popularity is a built-in outdoor kitchen or a pool.

Hardscaping breaks up long sections of planted areas and divides the outdoor area into useable and defined sections. Without hardscaping, navigating a yard would be quite difficult, and the yard would look overgrown.


Softscaping is all the “soft,” or living, elements of an outdoor space. Softscaping items grow, live, and make up the “outdoorsy” part of outdoor living areas.

Some examples of popular softscaping in yards include:

Plants: potted or in-ground gardens, plants add life to a yard

Trees: trees provide shade, can bear fruit, and are essential to softscaping

Grass: wide expanses of lawn separate gardens or hardscaping, allowing open space for play and relaxation

Another popular softscaping option is shrubbery plantings that add privacy or soften the hard edges of a house’s foundation.

Softscaping is essential to a well-rounded outdoor living area. Too much hardscaping can look very industrial. Breaking up the hardscaping with some softscape elements takes a space from a concrete jungle to a sanctuary in nature.

If you are looking to add or spruce up the hardscaping or softscaping elements in your home, Old North State Landscape Development offers comprehensive landscaping services in Durham, NC, to meet your needs in designing the perfect outdoor sanctuary.

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