The 3 disciplines of landscaping
It is widely understood that the ‘landscape’ has six main compositional elements: the landform itself, vertical structures, horizontal structures, vegetation (or flora), water and climate. To take a scientific angle on it then, landscaping is - in essence - the art and science of arranging all these six elements to make a good outdoor space. One that works functionally AND aesthetically.
Where does landscape architecture become landscaping design? And how does garden design fit in to the equation too?
As a rule, landscape architecture is mainly focused on public spaces - urban planning, city and regional parks, civic and corporate landscapes, large scale interdisciplinary projects and so on. And by virtue of the fact landscape architecture concerns public spaces, it is of course generally much larger in scale, is a longer project in duration, and is implemented by many many contracts, rather than just one!
If landscape architects design the built environment of neighborhoods, towns and cities, they must also however, protect and manage the natural environment - from forests and fields to rivers and coasts. Landscape architects therefore have a responsibility to improve the quality of life of residents of that architecture, and that means all living things that reside there, not just people!
Landscape architects have to consider every facet of the landscape they are working on - their job covers the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of both natural and built environments. With this in mind, they have to be extremely well qualified, with years of study behind them and advanced degrees and qualifications.
Landscape designers do not have to have quite as many of these professional credentials. Landscaping design combines nature and culture and - in contemporary practice – is the middle ground between landscape architecture and garden design.
Landscaping design focuses on both the overall landscape planning of a property and the specific garden design of landscape elements and plants within it. Practical, aesthetic, horticultural and environmental factors are all considered to be subjects dealt within in the remit of landscape design, and landscaping designers often collaborate with related disciplines such as architecture and geography, soils and civil engineering, surveying, landscape contracting and botany.
There are a number of superb landscaping designers and/or landscape architects practising in the UK today – designers such as Tom Stuart Smith, Andy Sturgeon, Arabella Lennox Boyd and Randle Siddeley all have multiple designers and architects on their staff and specialise in delivering projects of any size, be it a huge residential development or a small, privately-owned London roof terrace.
Garden Design, the third related discipline of landscaping if you like, is a specialised branch of landscaping design, concerned with, mainly, domestic private space and privately owned things within that space too – such as furniture, outbuildings and so on. Garden design is therefore the art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and garden landscapes. Garden design professionals can have varying levels of experience and expertise. But most professional garden designers are trained in principles of design and horticulture and have an expert knowledge and experience of using (and planting) plants.
Where these three disciplines of landscaping cross over is grey territory. There can be significant overlap of talents and skills, depending on the education, licensing, and experience of the professional. Both landscaping designers and landscape architects practice landscape design, and of course they sometimes design gardens too! Many landscape designers have an interest and involvement with gardening personally or professionally. Some integrate this scope with their design practice, informally or as licensed landscape contractors.
In summary, the three disciplines of landscaping are all connected by the ground they work with. They differ in scale enormously, but their joint job description is to better the environment around us, from small flower bed to city park and business park – and in essence make the UK a more functional (and beautiful) space.