By definition, landscape gardening, or garden landscaping is the design of public and outdoor environments to meet specific requirements or objectives. These objectives may involve, in the instance of a public park for example, the landscaping of an area to include seating for park users, lighting, and a playground for children. Landscape gardening is also known as landscape architecture, which is perhaps a more descriptive term, since landscape gardeners will typically design, plan, construct, and oversee the development of an area of landscape that they have been contracted to work on. Many additional services are often offered by landscapers due to the nature of the work, which can include construction, carpentry, tree surgery, fencing, and ground working.
The history of landscape gardening unsurprisingly derives from the design, planning and management of large estates, manors, royal palaces and residencies. During the 18th and 19th centuries, demand grew for the design of increasingly lavish and decadent gardens among the royal palaces and noble residencies. It is thanks to these commissions that we can now enjoy such delights as the gardens of the Palace of Versailles in France, designed by the famous André Le Nôtre, and the beautiful gardens of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England.
Throughout the 19th century, the need for urban planning grew with the rapid development and growth of many cities. The term ‘landscape architect’ first began to be used by professionals in 1863 when Frederick Law Olmsted adopted the term. Olmsted was in fact responsible for defining many early practises of American landscape architecture in some of his great commissions, which include the famous Central Park in New York City.
Today in the UK, the Landscape Institute (LI) is responsible for promoting and regulating the profession of landscape gardening and landscape architecture. It currently has approximately 6,000 members.