Hardscape and Softscape for Minnesota Landscape Design: A Balancing Act for a Perfect Yard

As creative landscape designers, we  use the two halves of landscaping, the hardscape and the softscape, to create a perfect harmony to fit any need. You might wonder what these two concepts are and why they’re important. 


The hardscape always gets built in the beginning of the landscaping installation, due to its permanent nature. That’s because it’s made up of the retaining walls, patios, pathways and other fixtures that won’t change from year to year. 

  • Shape and Protection:  The primary role hardscaping plays in Minnesota homes is to provide a solid shape to the property. Walls and pathways offer a guide for people to walk along and give us a place to put plants.  These elements also prevent too much water absorption and run off, which protects valuable soil and structural integrity. Although some materials, like bricks and gravel, absorb some water, it’s not enough to cause problems.
  • Recreation and Appearance:  Hardscaping also includes things like pools, gazebos, patios and outdoor kitchens. These all provide easy places for entertainment and food preparation.  Fountains and statues, which add character and charm to a garden, are also included in this category.


In many ways, the softscape is the exact opposite of the hardscape. This involves plants which change from year to year and season to season. The trick to beautiful landscaping is designing the garden around what is already there, which is where the softscape comes in. 

  • Color and Flow:  Plants offer property color, whether it’s from a pallet of greens from foliage or rainbow of colors from flowers. They also offer a garden a sense of life and flow, due to how branches or vines curve and sway in the breeze.  They offer the sense of tranquility and relaxation which is so sought after when it comes to outdoor surroundings. 
  • Permanent or Temporary:  Another unique note softscaping adds to a home is that it can either be permanent or temporary. Trees will last for years if properly planted and cared for, while annual flowers will last only a year before they’re gone.


When these two aspects of landscaping are balanced, you’re left with a lovely, relaxing outdoor environment ready to be enjoyed.  If your yard is a little “off balance” but you’re not sure just what it needs, please give us a call.  We delight in helping Minnesotans bring their landscape visions to life.