While landscaping is adapted to and practiced in most geographic locations and climates throughout the world, the principles that landscaping uses to change the visible features of an area of land into a functional or visually appealing space are the same. Using a combination of art, science, and engineering, landscape design uses a combination of man made and natural elements to accomplish its goal. It could depend on a combination of a few or all of the following -
- Plants and soil
- Flat land, hills, or areas of water
- Buildings, fences, swimming pools, etc.
- Weather, effects of weather, lighting conditions, and environmental conditions.
Methods And Design Styles
To get a better picture of what is landscaping, you should first understand that it can be defined as both a method or a design style. These two categories are often confused with one another.
- Methods of landscaping consist of principles that address specific conditions. For instance, dry area or drought tolerant landscaping known as Xeriscaping is a method that uses plants and principles that adapt to and use low water use conditions or create environmentally friendly landscapes that preserve natural resources.
- Landscape design styles can reflect cultural, geographic, and thematic preferences to produce a certain and desired appearance. For instance, a Mediterranean style home may use Mediterranean or tropical style plants to create a Mediterranean or Tropical landscaping style. Or Japanese cultural elements may be used to create a Japanese garden. And while these and others are design styles, they can still incorporate methods such as Xeriscaping to help the landscape adapt to the environment or be more environmentally friendly.
Principles Of Landscaping As Art
To answer the question of what is landscaping a bit further, it’s important to understand that it is an art form. An appealing and functional design is rarely the result of a random or accidental creation. And while it may not be obvious to view what makes a landscape appealing, balanced, or functional, there are applied and intentional principles behind the plan that make it so. See What Is Landscaping? for a more detailed explanation of the principles of design and how they’re applied as art.
Once you understand that landscaping is art and how its principles are applied just as other forms of art, you should also understand that some thought needs to be given to the design process in order to create appealing and functional results. Often, the biggest mistake that people make in regards to landscaping their own yard is to begin without having a complete plan. While the simple definition is that it is to use different elements to form, shape, or change a piece of land into a specific, intentional, and desired method or style, there is just a little more to it. Each area of hardscaping such as building walls, walkways, pergolas, steps, etc., and every instance of planting has its own specific considerations that not only create the whole project, but also has considerations on how they affect and are affected by each other.
The History Of Landscaping
Historical evidence shows that landscaping has been practiced for thousands of years by almost every civilized culture to either beautify an area or increase its functionality or usability.
Eastern cultures such as the Japanese and Chinese perfected the art of beautiful gardens long ago to include intentional placement of objects and symbolism into their gardens and landscapes. Even though it may not be noticeable, much of what makes landscaping in many cultures today what it is, can be attributed to the principles used in Japanese gardens. For instance, intentional planting of alike plants in odd numbers is not only a principle of art but also very obvious in Japanese gardens.
Tracing back to the existence of the first known garden in history, the Garden Of Eden, there is documented and visible proof of landscaping and gardens that have been excavated in geological digs.
- The Mayans – used intentionally placed plantings around paths and walkways to help define the paths and their direction.
- The Romans – are famous for their gardens and landscapes. The Italian style of landscaping includes perfectly sculpted formal gardens and mazes that influence many of today’s design styles. They also include canals, ponds, fountains, and watering systems that can still be seen today in some of their ancient cities.
- The Hanging Gardens Of Babylon are historically recorded back to around 600 B.C.
These, along with many other instances, have carried on and influenced many other cultures and design styles of landscapes to make landscaping what it is today. To answer the question of what is landscaping in almost any area is a simple matter of looking down any street where you will see parks, buildings, front yards, and lawns that are intentionally placed and manipulated for either beauty or functionality.