Hard landscaping and soft landscaping are terms most used in garden design and landscape architecture. But what do they mean? In this article, we explore what the term ‘soft landscaping’ encompasses, the types of materials used within it, and how they are applied in different spaces and complemented by hard landscaping elements.

The definition of soft landscaping

If we refer to hard landscaping as the structural elements, or skeleton, of outdoor design, then we would describe soft landscaping elements as the meat on the bones. Soft landscaping elements are, by and large, decorative additions to an outdoor space. Or, more simply, the greenery that makes them so pleasant to relax in.

When the term soft landscaping is used it is often describing elements such as trees, shrubs, turf, mulch and soil. Hard and soft landscaping elements usually go hand in hand. For example, a garden may be created with sleepers to create a flower bed, which is a hard landscaping element. And the flowers and soil that are placed within it constitute the soft landscaping element.

To create a welcoming, relaxing environment that is safe, durable and practical, a balance of hard and soft landscaping features is crucial.

The purpose of soft landscaping

The job of soft landscaping elements is to soften the landscape. They bring together all the separate elements of an outdoor space and bring structure to an outdoor area. Soft landscaping elements can encompass anything from raised flower beds, hedges, shrubs, plants and turf.

Finding a balance with hard and soft landscaping elements in an outdoor space adds texture, character and structure. It also helps guide the eye through the landscape and ergonomically directs traffic (either by foot or by vehicle) through an area.

NatraTex, soft landscaping, and landscape architecture

NatraTex products are commonly used in landscape architecture as a hard landscaping element. Our fully bound asphalt products are applied in several ways to create durable, hard-wearing surfaces that complement the surrounding area.

As of today, our products have been used to create school playgrounds, multi-purpose sports areas (MUGA pitches), driveways, and pathways that work effortlessly with the surrounding soft landscaping. To find out more about our past projects, take a look at our Portfolio to see a collection of recent case studies.