The rise of DIY shows and the trend of turning backyards into outside living areas has led to hardscaping (with a few plants on the side) replacing the humble lawn. But, hardscaping vs softscaping – which is better?
What is Hardscaping?
Hardscaping includes all non-living elements of your backyard design – patio, deck, paving, concrete – often areas otherwise covered by grass.
What is Softscaping?
Softscaping is all the natural elements of your landscape such as natural lawn and garden beds.
While a combination of both can create a gorgeous garden design, there are some definite drawbacks to installing too much hardscaping.
We believe in using both in moderation to create a well-balanced design.
Some considerations when deciding on hardscape or softscape:
On a hot day, a lawn will be 30-degrees cooler than concrete and pavers, 20-degrees cooler than synthetic grass and 14-degrees cooler than bare soil.
In our hot Perth climate, this is an aspect which is worth taking into consideration when you are choosing the ratio of hard to softscaping in your design.
Hardscaping is typically installed in the early stages of landscaping, although many hardscape elements can be added at any time. These elements will cost considerably more than the cost to establish a lawn and, depending on your plant selection, garden beds.
Many elements of hardscapes, such as ponds, pools or decks, require a professional’s knowledge and experience for proper installation. Hiring a professional adds to the overall expense of hardscaping.
Over time, though, if you factor in the cost of fertiliser, herbicides and lawn care tools such as mowers and whipper snippers necessary to maintain a lawn, the cost of a lawn increases.
Both will be an investment into your home and lifestyle, which most homeowners agree is worth the cost for the enjoyment received in return.
So, unless you have the time and skills to DIY, will require an expert landscaper to install, adding to your budget.
Maintenance and Care
Most hardscape elements, such as walkways, walls and patios, require minimal care after they are installed, while other elements, such as ponds and pools, require frequent care and maintenance. Depending on the species of grass you plant or install, lawns are usually lower maintenance than a pool. However, regular tasks are required to ensure a healthy lawn, such as mowing, fertilising and weed eradication.
Does your property offer future subdividing or development opportunities?
If your entire outdoors is hardscaped (e.g. paved or concreted over) it will all need to be torn up in order to develop, adding extra cost and hassle.
If your section is smaller and most people buying in that area will be looking for a low maintenance property, more hardscape elements might be a drawcard.
General Pros and Cons of Hardscaping and Softscaping
Hardscaping can prevent or correct problems in your landscape. For example, retaining walls prevent soil erosion, while walkways allow visitors to enjoy your plants without walking on your beautiful gardens. A steep slope can be fitted with terraced steps, or a shaded or moist area where grass doesn’t grow well can be filled in with a patio or a pond. Hardscaping adds definition and visual interest to your landscape design, but a landscape dominated by hardscaping can feel cold and ultramodern.
Softscaping, on the other hand adds colour, cools your environment and can breathe life into your landscape. It can prevent soil erosion in sloped areas, act as natural air-conditioner and firebreak, and also filter pollutants and runoff.
At the end of the day, your outdoors should be something you can enjoy – an area that relaxes you and helps you live the lifestyle you want.
Our question to you is; What hardscaping or softscaping elements do you need in your garden for that to happen?
- A pool?
- Natural lawn for kids to play on?
- A pond for soothing water sounds?
- Paved alfresco for entertaining?
Whatever your landscape goals, from natural turf and pavers to ponds – or all of the above, our team at Perth Landscaping can help create something you will love.