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What is Softscaping?
Softscaping is a term used in landscaping to describe the planting and maintenance of living elements of a yard. Trees, bushes, flowers, shrubs, grass, ivy, vegetable plants, moss, and cacti are all considered softscape.
Because softscape is alive, it will require more attention and upkeep than hardscape structures. For example, if you mow your lawn or weed your flower beds, you are already familiar with softscape maintenance.
How is Hardscape Different From Softscape?
Softscape is the living elements of a yard; hardscape is the sturdy, non-living elements that are man-made. For example, retaining walls, pavement, patios, pools, fire pits, stone walkways, fences, tree houses, outdoor ovens, arches, pergolas, sheds, decorative statues, stairs, and lighting columns are all hardscape.
A good yard should have a balance of softscape and hardscape. There are places where the two will interact. For example, many older people like to have raised flower beds so they don’t have to bend down. The hardscape element is the man-made flower bed, which is softscaped with flowers or vegetable-growing plants. Ivy and other crawling vines will often interact with hardscape elements by growing up the man-made walls, over fences, and around decorative statues.
You probably have neighbors who seem to prefer either hardscape or softscape. Homes with lots of cars often opt for an additional or extra long driveway to park their vehicles; this is an example of emphasis on hardscape. Many homeowners in desert regions, like Arizona, may tear out their grass to make a rock garden with intricate designs made of different colored rocks and a few cacti.
On the other hand, you might have a neighbor or two whose front yard looks like a jungle. This is an example of what happens when you lean too much into softscape. Without man-made elements to control the growth, your home’s greenery could swallow your home whole.
Why is Softscape Important?
It is rare to see a yard without softscape. Having plants, trees, and grass in your yard can benefit the aesthetics of your home, as well as its versatility and your family’s overall health. Here are 6 benefits of softscape:
The Ambiance of the Yard
Greenery sets the tone for the yard and evokes a certain feeling. For example, yards with large trees feel calm and homey because you can easily read a book in the shade of the tree or push a child on the tire swing. Yards with neatly trimmed grass show how meticulous and organized the homeowner is. If your yard is bursting with colorful flowers, it sends a cheerful, friendly message to neighbors and visitors.
Safe For Children
Do you notice where children like to play outside? It’s normally on the lawn. Regardless of the type of lawn, it creates a space that can be used for soccer, touch football, cartwheels, wrestling, playing fetch with the dog, and throwing grass at each other. Grass is a significantly safer place for children to play than on concrete. With grass, there is little risk of serious injury from falling and no skinned knees.
Softscape Gives You More Room
A grassy, family-friendly yard can expand the amount of space that your family has to play. Softscape turns your yard into a place for picnics, soccer games, and more. With a beautifully maintained yard, it is easy to hold dinner parties, movie nights, and sleepovers outdoors. Instead of stuffing all the kids into a bedroom, your family can pitch a tent on the grass for a night of mock camping.
You can hang tire swings from trees in the yard to expand the number of ways your children can play. Larger trees are also perfect for tree houses, which gives kids space to use their imagination.
If your home is starting to feel cramped, utilizing family-friendly softscape can give everyone more space to play.
The Health Benefits of Dirt
Digging your hands into dirt actually has health benefits. According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, exposure to the microbes and bacteria in dirt can boost a child’s immune system. Kids who spent lots of time outside, laying in the grass, and digging in the dirt experience 50% less allergies and asthma than kids who were raised in strictly sterile environments.
Green is Good For Mental Health
In addition to the physical health benefits of the great outdoors, it is better for your mental health to be exposed to greenery. Everyone can agree that going to the park is the perfect way to de-stress. By incorporating beautiful softscaping into your yard, you can create a stress-free oasis where you can unplug and unwind.
Hardscape is unable to absorb water, so it creates run-off that must be drained accordingly to prevent flooding. Because softscape is alive and dirt is permeable, softscape areas can absorb extra water. Having more softscape in your yard can reduce the risk of your basement flooding.
What Are the Two Different Types of Softscape Services?
Softscape services is an umbrella term that consists of two different services: installation and maintenance.
This aspect of softscape services normally occurs when homeowners want to remodel. You might hire a landscaper to plant more trees, put in fresh grass, add a flower garden, and create a mulch bed. If you enjoy gardening, you can also do this part yourself by planting your own shrubs and creating a garden.
When homeowners think of softscape services, they normally picture this aspect of it. It is exciting to get a yard makeover and it’s fun to see your dream yard start coming together.
The second aspect of softscape services is maintaining your new yard. This means weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, trimming trees, and setting up a sprinkler system to water everything. Some maintenance will need to be performed more frequently.
Maintaining your softscape also involves removing trees if they die or become infested. If you initially planted annuals instead of perennials, part of your yard maintenance will involve re-planting those flowers every spring.
Softscape Services: What To Look For
Whether you are hiring a professional landscaper or redoing your yard as a DIY project, here are 6 things to consider:
- Hypoallergenic Plants and Trees: You want to be able to enjoy your yard without your eyes itching. Crabapple trees, tulip trees, columbines, and daffodils are all safe for allergy sufferers.
- Pollinator-Friendly: Planting a pollinator-friendly garden will benefit both you and the bees. Pollinators can help with pest control and will cause your edible plants to grow better fruits and veggies.
- Steer Clear of Invasive Plants: Some invasive plants might look nice, but they will quickly take over your entire garden.
- All-Season Softscape: Depending on where you live, your yard might be dead and buried in snow for half the year. Most plants don’t look nice during the winters. To maintain beauty year-round, look for plants like juniper shrubs, lettuce, and blue spruce that will easily survive the winter.
- Softscape Complements Hardscape: When done well, softscape and hardscape will work together. It is best to plant softscape that accessorizes your hardscape. For example, you could plant climbing vines to grow over lamp posts or arches.
- Easy to Maintain: It is best to choose softscape that isn’t going to create a lot of work for you. For example, don’t plant only annuals because you’ll have to replant them every year. Avoid trees that drop large seed pods and skip grass that requires huge amounts of water to stay green.