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Best Plants to Soften Your Hardscape Design

The key to creating a cohesive landscape is successfully marrying the right soft features with your hardscape designs. There are many different landscaping plant options and pleasing combinations to come up with; however, these are a few of our favorites. Read on to learn about the best plants for backyard landscaping and softening your hardscape designs.

What is a Hardscape in Landscape Design?

Landscape designers are skilled at marrying hardscapes and softscapes to create a cohesive, welcoming landscape design, but what is a hardscape feature, and why does it matter? Simply put, a hardscape design is any non-living element that’s part of your landscape, such as a patio, brick walkway, or pergola. While these are all essential elements, it’s important to add another element to soften these sometimes ‘hard’ features.

Flowering Shrubs and Perennials

Nothing is more welcoming than the sweet aromatic plants in bloom—and its equally appealing visual aesthetic. Flowering shrubs and perennials soften the landscape, and many add four-season interest to your landscape design. A flowering shrub or perennial bed instantly adds an element of beauty to soften your landscape. Consider planting varieties that sequentially bloom throughout all the seasons of California, starting with early spring flowers such as azaleas and primrose, to butterfly bush and lantana as the weather heats up, all the way to salvias and sunflowers for late summer appeal. In addition, don’t forget to add year-round color with bright, showy blooms of year-round bloomers such as begonia.

Evergreens Shrubs: An Essential Element to Soften Your Hardscape Design

There are many fabulous shrubs to choose from, but boxwood and westringia shrubs are favored for their versatility and simple growth habits.


While boxwoods certainly can be shaped into a boxy feature, don’t let their name fool you! There are over 70 species of this evergreen shrub, and you can easily prune it into whichever shape you desire. Boxwood leaves are small and rounded and grow in emerald green clusters, making them an excellent choice if you’re also looking to add some privacy to your backyard. Boxwoods look gorgeous as a property border or as a meticulously trimmed container plant—how you choose to use your boxwood is up to you!

Grasses: Guaranteed to Soften Hardscapes

Perhaps one of the best landscaping plants to soften your backyard is ornamental grass. Their subtle presence immediately amps up the visual attractiveness of any landscape.

‘Graceful’ Maiden Grass

Graceful maiden grass gets its name from the elegant arching stems topped with small white tufts, which slightly resemble off-brand pampas. The clumping growth habit of these plants adds a soft element to your landscape, making them one of the best choices for a backyard if you’re looking to fill space with an interesting specimen.

Now that you have some ideas of what makes the best plants for backyard landscaping, you may find yourself having difficulty choosing your favorite—but we can help with that! Stop into Roger’s Gardens plant nursery to shop our selection of stunning landscaping plants.

Learn more by watching: Favorite Landscaping Plants with Suzanne Hetrick