The vast majority of new buildings, no matter where they are located, institute a formal landscaping program to enhance the visual appeal of the project, create an inviting entrance, and add warmth to otherwise sterile environments. The landscaping program consists of distinct hardscape and softscape design elements. 

Hardscape paved surfaces and seating areas define the boundaries of the softscape treed space, image by Marcus Mitanis

Hardscape surfaces use heavier materials like stone, concrete, and wood to build the structural components of a landscape, including paved areas, driveways, walkways, retaining walls, gates, fountains, art installations, and stairs. These hardscape features essentially serve to divide, shape, and demarcate the boundaries of the site.

Softscape features bring colour to the street, image by Marcus Mitanis

Softscape details then embellish and complement these rougher elements by infusing the landscape with colourful and easily changeable horticultural ornamentation. This includes trees, grass, shrubs, flowers, and soil. Some softscape features like vegetable gardens and green roofs may act as accessible amenity spaces within residential and office developments. The ideal landscape — which protects the soil from erosion — strikes a harmonious balance between hardscape and softscape features.

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