Landscaping: The Difference and Importance of Softscaping and Hardscaping

Let’s face it; we all want a beautiful living space to enjoy. Your home is supposed to be your haven and as much attention should be paid to the outside of your property as the inside. Just like cosmetic upgrades you may make to your home’s interior, like fresh coats of paint, new throw pillows, or the installation of new flooring, landscaping services offer the same for your home’s outdoor area through softscaping and hardscaping. But what are the differences between the two and why are they important?

These small plants will grow to be big beautiful accents of color to this home.

Softscaping is the live, horticultural elements of a landscape. Think flowers, shrubs, soil, trees and the corresponding color scheme of those plantations. These living aspects of your outdoor space may be permanent (perennials), meaning they come back year after year; or seasonal (annuals), meaning that they live for only one growing season and do not return. Softscaping is important not only in enhancing how the outside of your home looks, but also in maintaining the ecological balance and integrity of the natural environment. Depending on how much maintenance and attention you want or have to give the plants—as well as your budget—will determine what softscape features you choose.


Stone walls not only add function, but a sense of style to your property.
Stone retaining walls not only add function, but a sense of style and class to your property.

Hardscaping refers to the heavier or “hard” elements in landscape design, such as retaining walls, stone work, patios, driveways and walkways. With hardscaping, you can dream big. Do you want a meandering path through your garden or a fully developed outdoor grilling and entertaining area? Or do you prefer decorative features, like a fountain or stone archway? Although hardscaping can increase your home’s curb appeal by adding useful and attractive areas, it also has a practical application. Hardscaping helps to prevent the absorption of water, as well as the erosion of soil, benefiting much more than just the aesthetics of your outdoor space. In hardscaping, the design can go hand-in-hand with the practical application. Your budget, needs, and imagination will be the major factors in deciding what will best serve your outdoor space.

Effective landscaping is reached by creating a harmony between softscaping and hardscaping. Once that harmony is realized, you’re sure to be on your way to making your home truly your haven.

Carrier Landscape specializes in both softscape and hardscape landscaping. Contact us today to find out what we can do for your home!

How to Create a Vacation in Your Backyard with the Right Hardscape Project

Dreaming of a getaway that’s just beyond your back door? It might sound crazy, but for the cost of only one year’s typical, family-of-four vacation, (between say, $5k and $12k), you can create a stunning backyard landscape that will give you a lifetime of outdoor living enjoyment. Get ready; your Maine “staycation” will never be the same.

Before you “dig” into this great escape, there are some important things to think about first. Below you’ll find four important tips to consider before starting your backyard dream project:

1. What do you want to use the outdoor space for?

First and foremost, you need to decide what on earth you want to do out there. Eat? Cook? Sit by a fire? Just gaze at something pretty? Put a swing or patio set on it? Are you big into hosting? How many people do you want to be able to entertain in the space?

2. Where does the dirt go?

You may not think much about dirt, but we think about dirt… a lot. It sounds funny, but when you landscape or hardscape, you dig, and when you dig, you get misplaced dirt. Knowing where all that removed dirt will go is important. Do you have a place for the dirt to go? Do you have a neighbor or friend close by who can use the fill? Do you need to level or re-slope any of your land? Let’s face it; hauling out dirt costs money. Having a place nearby to put it will save you serious dough.

3. Research the heck out of it.

The Internet is a beautiful thing. Google and Pinterest to your heart’s content. Decide what you want, and then call a reputable contractor or two. Check three references; maybe even ask to visit a job similar to what you want. Try to see a job that is more than a year old. You want to know that the contractor’s work stands the test of time.

4. Set a budget and ask a few contractors for a design that hits that budget.

Knowing how much you want and can spend is key. If a contractor listens well to what you want, he/she should be able to come up with something within a set budget and make it beautiful. Tell us what you’re willing to spend. When we can have an open and honest conversation, I can come up with a much more thorough game plan and presentation. Rough budget numbers help us narrow down the huge amount of options and shapes out there. We can always tweak things to be fancy and elaborate or more basic depending on your needs and style preferences. The budget number allows us to decide. Sometimes smaller, curvy, multiple colors, and maybe even some accent lighting or decorative sitting walls can really finish a project beautifully. So, don’t rule out a project if you don’t have a big budget. There are lots of options, and a good contractor can help you achieve your backyard goals, however lofty they may be!

Now you’re ready to go out there and make the first steps toward making your outdoor living dreams come true. You’ll be amazed at how your backyard not only becomes your next vacation destination, but also the new social hub of the neighborhood. Enjoy!