Softscapes and Hardscapes


Drought conditions in California are forcing property owners to come up with solutions for landscaping that are not only drought-tolerant but also attractive. Designing a balanced garden requires a combination of softscapes and hardscapes. The term softscape refers to living vegetation, and the term hardscape refers to the non-living elements, like pathways and patios.

There are many low-water plants, trees and ground covers that can be used for softscape areas. These should be chosen for the climate. Combining softscapes with hardscape elements like pathways, ponds, patios and areas of functional space can make your garden an extension of your living space. Using softscape in combination with useful hardscape elements is a creative solution that can produce a beautiful and interesting garden and also save valuable water and money.

There are many choices of drought tolerant plants for softscaping that can thrive in Southern California. Mediterranean varieties as well as native plants are among the best suited for our climate. Lavender, thyme and oregano are plants that add beauty and fragrance to a garden and require very little water. Yarrow and California poppy are native plants that also have lower water requirements. Bougainvillea can provide a lovely infusion of color and height on a trellis. Milkweed is a wonderful native plant that helps Monarch butterflies.

There are many ornamental grasses like sheep fescue and deergrass, that provide texture and color and can be a great substitute for lawns. Some examples of perennials that have lower water requirements are: mallow, lamb’s ears, catmint, coyote mint, California fuschia and penstemons, to name just a few. Succulents are another good choice for Southern California!

While softscape plants should be chosen to fit the California climate, hardscaping ideas are practically limitless. Rock walls, patios, paths, and boulders are some design elements that can be used. Paths that wander through your garden are inviting and a wonderful way to create depth perception.

Pathways can be made of flagstone, concrete, pea gravel, brick, bark, or cobblestone to name a few. Raised planters and divisions can add interest and bring beauty to your design. Adding a water feature with a recirculating pump, like a pond or a birdbath, attracts wildlife and brings tranquility. A garden bench, swing, and patio furniture invites you to relax in your garden. In addition, decks and gazebos are wonderful design elements that can extend your living space into your landscape.


Our professional team at Pacific Vista Landscape Services are experts creating softscape and hardscape combinations. We can help design, build, and plant your perfect waterwise garden oasis!



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