Landscaping is a profession which involves manipulating the natural environment in an area to make it look a certain way. This profession often relies heavily on gardening, but landscaping also involves the installation of walls and other features, the construction of buildings, and the consideration of an area as a whole. There are a variety of reasons to practice landscaping, ranging from a desire to make an area look attractive to a push to make an area functional for recreation.
People have been practicing landscaping for thousands of years, as evidence of elaborate gardens from ancient cultures on every inhabited continent testify. Landscaping was often used to beautify the area around temples, palaces, and public areas, but it was also utilized in and around private homes. The Romans, for example, had homes with landscaped enclosed courtyards enjoyed only by members of the household, while the Mayans lined the walkways to their temples with elaborate plantings. Landscaping could also have a practical function, as evidenced by the gardening terraces constructed by some Native American tribes for the purpose of crop cultivation.
Typically, landscaping is confined to a set area, such as the property surrounding a home, office building, museum, or similar structure. Usually a landscaper starts the project by sketching the building and its context, looking at how the natural environment looks, and studying limitations such as neighboring buildings, poor soil quality, and so forth. Once the landscaper has a map of the are to be landscaped, he or she can start to think about design.
Landscaping often starts with laying out pathways, and building up from there to create a lush environment which may include fountains, pools, benches, gazebos, stone retaining walls, and other features. Once the basic groundwork has been laid, the landscaper can start adding shrubs, trees, plants, and so forth to create a desired look. Landscaping may also be themed, as in the case of a traditional English garden, a native plant garden, or a low-water garden.
This profession is also an art form, and it takes a good eye to appreciate the existing features of the natural environment and think about how to best manipulate them. Good landscaping flows seamlessly with the natural environment, rather than fighting it. Landscaping also requires extensive maintenance to ensure that it continues to look good through years of use. Once an area has been landscaped, it may be turned over to a gardener or maintenance crew who can keep the individual aspects of the landscaping in good shape, while the landscaper moves on to another project.