When referring to landscaping, experts generally talk in terms of hard landscaping and soft landscaping. Softscape refers to the living elements of the design. These are the plants, such as flowers and trees. The elements in soft scape are complemented by the elements of the hardscape, such as stone walls and brick walkways. To qualify as part of the softscape in a landscape design, an element must be a plant. It does not necessarily have to soft to the touch but is must be living. Some softscape elements are very hard, such as an oak tree, while others are very soft, such as the velvety plant, the lamb’s ear.


Since softscape describes all the living parts of a landscape, it may include a lawn or even wildflowers. Softscape is not only the show pieces but also encompasses the smallest weed if that is part of the landscape design. Most landscapers would be hesitant to include a weed in their softscape, but there are some which bloom very nicely and put on a good show. What plants make up a particular soft scape will ultimately be up to the homeowner or whoever is paying for the landscape upgrade.

One of the newest trends is to include edible elements into a landscape, including vegetables and fruit trees. These are not normally part of a traditional softscape, but as more and more people are growing urban gardens for food, these types of soft landscape design London elements will start appearing more frequently.

What To Grow

Most landscapes include annual and perennial flowers and shrubs, along with a selection of trees. The plants will typically have brilliant flowers that go along with the theme of the landscape design. Annuals must be replanted every year, while perennials will come back, as long as they are properly cared for.

Some softscapes are created for a special event such as the Fourth of July in the United States. Landscapers may plant flowers in red, white, and blue and create a design. These flowers will then die out at the end of the season and may be replaced by fall mums or asters.


Perennials, along with biennials are a great way to inject color and variety into the soft scape. You may plant spring bulbs in the fall which will appear the next spring in an explosion of color. Or you may want to plant perennials of varying heights to provide some texture and personality to your softscape. Taller plants may be grown up against a wall or a fence, helping to soften it and bring in color. Shorter perennials may be used as a garden border or to act as a ground cover.

Even though flowers tend to get the most attention because of their color, there are other softscape elements which provide balance and actually can make a bigger statement. These are the trees, flowering bushes and flowering vines. Quick growing trees can be planted to create a screen bordering the landscape while flowering bushes add color and fragrance. Flowering vines can be trained up a wall or over a lattice to create a beautiful covering.

The softscape elements of a landscape provide most of the actual appearance and are what bring the personality to the design. Living plants, after all are what a landscape design is all about.