Landscape design is an independent profession and a design and art tradition, practised by landscape designers, combining nature and culture. In contemporary practice landscape design bridges between landscape architecture and garden design.
Landscape design focuses on both the integrated master landscape planning of a property and the specific garden design of landscape elements and plants within it. The practical,aesthetic, horticultural, and environmental sustainability components merit Landscape design inclusion. It is often divided into hardscape design and softscape design. Landscape designers often collaborate with related disciplines such as architecture and geography, soils and civil engineering, surveying, landscape contracting, botany, and artisan specialties. Design project focus can tend towards: in landscape design – artistic composition and artisanship, horticultural finesse and expertise, and a detailed site involvement emphasis from concepts through construction; whereas in landscape architecture – focus of urban planning, city and regional parks, civic and corporate landscapes, large scale interdisciplinary projects, and delegation to contractors after completing designs. There can be significant overlap of talents and skills, depending on the education, licensing, and experience of the professional.Both landscape designers and landscape architects practice landscape design.
Factors in designing include objective qualities; such as the climate and microclimates; topography and orientation, site drainage and groundwater recharge; municipal and resource building codes, soils and irrigation, human and vehicular access and circulation, recreational amenities (i.e.: sports and water), furnishings and lighting, native planthabitat botany when present, property safety and security, construction detailing, and other measurable considerations. Factors in designing also include subjective qualities such as: genius loci (the special site qualities to emphasize); client’s needs and preferences; desirable plants and elements to retain on site, modify, or replace, and available to use asborrowed scenery from beyond; artistic composition from perspectives of both looking upon and being in the gardens; spatial development and definition; plant palettes in designed layouts, and artistic focal points for enjoyment. There are innumerable other design factors and considerations brought to the complex process of designing a garden that is beautiful, well functioning, and thrives over time. The up and coming practice of online landscape design allows professional landscapers to remotely design and plan sites through manipulation of two-dimensional images without ever physically visiting the location. Due to the frequent lack of non-visual, supplementary data such as soil assessments and pH tests, online landscaping necessarily must focus on incorporating only plants which are tolerant across many diverse soil conditions.
Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor public areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome. The scope of the profession includes: urban design; site planning; stormwater management; town or urban planning; environmental restoration; parks and recreation planning; visual resource management; green infrastructure planning and provision; and private estate and residence landscape master planning and design; all at varying scales of design, planning and management. A practitioner in the profession of landscape architecture is called a landscape architect.
Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of: botany, horticulture, the fine arts, architecture, industrial design, geology and the earth sciences,environmental psychology, geography, and ecology. The activities of a landscape architect can range from the creation of public parks and parkways to site planning for campuses and corporate office parks, from the design of residential estates to the design of civil infrastructure and the management of large wilderness areas or reclamation of degraded landscapes such as mines or landfills. Landscape architects work on all types of structures and external space – large or small, urban, suburban and rural, and with “hard” (built) [hardscapes] and “soft” (planted) [softscapes] materials, while integrating ecological sustainability. The most valuable contribution can be made at the first stage of a project to generate ideas with technical understanding and creative flair for the design, organization, and use of spaces. The landscape architect can conceive the overall concept and prepare the master plan, from which detailed design drawings and technical specifications are prepared [taskscapes]. They can also review proposals to authorize and supervise contracts for the construction work. Other skills include preparing design impact assessments, conducting environmental assessments and audits, and serving as an expert witness at inquiries on land use issues. They can also support and prepare applications for capital and revenue funding grants.
Fields of activity
The variety of the professional tasks that landscape architects collaborate on is very broad, but some examples of project types include:
- The planning, form, scale and siting of new developments
- Civil design and public infrastructure
- Sustainable development
- Stormwater management including rain gardens, green roofs, groundwater recharge, and treatment wetlands
- Campus and site design for public institutions and government facilities
- Parks, botanical gardens, arboretums, greenways, and nature preserves
- Recreation facilities; i.e.: playgrounds, golf courses, theme parks and sports facilities
- Housing areas, industrial parks and commercial developments
- Estate and residence landscape master planning and design
- Highways, transportation structures, bridges, and transit corridors
- Urban design, town and city squares, waterfronts, pedestrian schemes, and parking lots
- Large to small urban renewal planning and design
- Natural park, tourist destination, and recreating historical landscapes, and historic garden appraisal and conservation studies
- Reservoirs, dams, power stations, reclamation of extractive industry applications or major industrial projects and mitigation
- Environmental assessment and landscape assessment, planning advice and land management proposals.
- Coastal and offshore developments and mitigation
- Ecological Design any aspect of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impacts by integrating itself with natural processes and sustainability
Landscape managers use their knowledge of landscape processes to advise on the long-term care and development of the landscape. They often work in forestry, natureconservation and agriculture.
Landscape scientists have specialist skills such as soil science, hydrology, geomorphology or botany that they relate to the practical problems of landscape work. Their projects can range from site surveys to the ecological assessment of broad areas for planning or management purposes. They may also report on the impact of development or the importance of particular species in a given area.
Landscape planners are concerned with landscape planning for the location, scenic, ecological and recreational aspects of urban, rural and coastal land use. Their work is embodied in written statements of policy and strategy, and their remit includes master planning for new developments, landscape evaluations and assessments, and preparing countryside management or policy plans. Some may also apply an additional specialism such as landscape archaeology or law to the process of landscape planning.
Green roof designers design extensive and intensive roof gardens for storm water management, evapo-transpirative cooling, sustainable architecture, aesthetics, and habitat creation.