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Landscape design, also known as landscape architecture, is the arranging and modifying of features in a landscape, urban area or garden. It involves the planning, designing and managing of open spaces to create urban and rural environments.
Landscape design can be incorporated into a wide variety of projects, from parks and green spaces, to gardens, sports sites and large estates such as housing developments, business parks, universities, hospital complexes and so on. It may be used to regenerate or improve sites such as brownfield sites or contaminated sites and may be part of a biodiversity offsetting programme to help mitigate for the loss of habitat that may result from a new development.
Among its many uses and benefits, landscape can help soften spaces between buildings, can provide links between spaces, can provide a route for people, water and animals, can provide a space for contemplation, assembly or recreation, can provide a space for gardening, can help improve environmental quality and so on. A well-designed and maintained landscape can attract people to a site and can have a positive impact on property value and personal wellbeing.
The Landscape Institute (LI) works to protect, conserve and enhance the natural and built environment for the public benefit. It suggests that, "Landscape architecture is rooted in an understanding of how the environment works and what makes each place unique. It is a blend of science and art, vision and thought. It is a creative profession skilled in strategic planning, delivery and management." (Ref. Landscape architecture: a guide for clients, 2012.)
Landscape design involves the arrangement of a wide range of elements, including:
- The landform itself.
- Built structures.
- Circulation routes, such as roads, paths, steps, ramps, railings and so on (including accessibility considerations).
- Water features, art and other installations (such as educational installations).
- Drainage, such as sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS).
Landscape design is often divided into 'softscape' or 'soft landcape' and 'hardscape' or 'hard landscape'.
Softscape or soft landscape includes all types of plant life, from flowers and trees to shrubs and groundcover. It naturally changes and evolves over time, driven by the climate, time of year and and other conditions. Careful consideration should be given to the amount of maintenance that these elements will require to stay in good order.
Softscape elements are complemented by hardscape elements.
Hard landscape or hardscape consists of the inanimate elements of landscaping. They are 'hard' and unchanging, although they may be movable and adaptable to the environment. They can also have effects on the soft environment, such as paving which increases water run-off. Hardscape might include, walkways, walls, outdoor 'rooms' and performance areas, gazebos, fences and so on.
Landscape architects or landscape designers may work for; design consultancies, contractors, public bodies, local authorities, environmental consultancies and so on. The role of a landscape architect can be varied and wide-ranging and can include:
- Meeting with clients to discuss landscape requirements.
- Undertaking site surveys to determine the potential of the site to meet the client's expectations.
- Preparing and presenting design plans and working drawings using computer-aided design (CAD) packages or similar.
- Completing the landscape and visual sections of planning applications or Environmental Impact Assessments.
- Working closely with other professionals on projects.
- Providing evidence in public inquiries.
For more information see Landscape architect.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Biodiversity offsetting.
- Ecological survey.
- Environmental Impact Assessment.
- External works.
- Green belt.
- Landscape architect.
- Landscape officer.
- Landscape institute.
- Rain garden.
- Site survey.
- Strategic ecology framework SEF.
- Tree hazard survey.
- Tree rights.
- Tree preservation order.
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