gardening vs Landscaping

Gardening versus Landscaping: the Great Divide?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between gardening and landscaping? 

There are many similarities, but also many differences. The main difference is qualification. I can call myself an experienced gardener, but I have no formal qualification so I can’t claim to be a landscaper. 

But, I want to get down to basics here, so we’ll look at common definitions of the two activities. We’ll delve a little deeper and talk about the titles some of the most famous gardeners and landscapers choose for themselves in another article. Stay posted! 

For example, John Brookes, a hugely respected master gardener who wrote garden and landscaping books during the 20th century, studied landscape design. But he didn’t call himself a landscaper, even though he was awarded an MBE (member of the Order of the British Empire) for his garden design work. 

Common Definitions of Gardening vs Landscaping

Let’s have a look at some dictionary definitions and then you can decide whether you think there is a difference between the two terms. 

Several different English dictionaries define a garden as a piece of land that is used for growing flowers, fruit, or vegetables. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (which is probably the simplest dictionary of all to understand) says that a garden is an area of land next to a house, where there are flowers, grass and other plants, and often a place for people to sit. 

These same dictionaries define a gardener as a person whose job it is to work in a garden. 

But you probably realize by now that many people’s gardens are a lot more than just a place for growing things and for sitting. Many gardens are designed to look pretty and to provide a backdrop for the house. Many gardens are planned so that the people who live in the houses on the same property can use the garden for entertaining friends. 

Lots of gardens have swimming pools, spas, and fish ponds that they can either swim in or just look at and enjoy. They also have fountains and some even have streams and rivers that bring the sound of water into their gardens. People with young children often use their gardens to provide a safe place for their children to play. 

So what do the dictionaries say about landscaping and landscapers? The Longman dictionary definitions are the most helpful. This dictionary defines landscape gardening (which we usually talk about as landscaping) as “the profession or art of arranging gardens and parks so that they look attractive and interesting.” It defines a landscape architect as “someone whose job is to plan the way an area of land looks, including roads, buildings, and planted areas.” 

The Oxford English Dictionary says a landscape architect or landscape gardener lays out grounds “in imitation of natural scenery.” The Collins English Dictionary says that a landscape gardener is a person who “designs gardens or parks so that they look attractive.”

So, you will see that landscaping is a much more formal and structured version of what we simply call gardening.  Over the years landscaping has been developed so that people can study it as a subject, and get qualifications that allow them to work as professional gardeners. What this really means is that anybody can garden. 

If you know a bit about the basics and you are enthusiastic and can learn by trial and error, you will be able to create beautiful or practical gardens. But to be a professional landscaper, and make a living from landscaping, you need to have a more structured and more detailed knowledge, not only about plants and planting, but about all the elements that make up the landscape as a whole.

But whether you’re a trained landscaper or an ardent gardener growing plants in your own home garden, remember that we are all custodians or caretakers of the earth. We need to do everything we can to conserve our environment. 

So, whether you are able to imagine, draw, plan, or simply plant a garden, choose trees, shrubs, perennials, and flowers that won’t suck up excessive water from the earth. Plant water-wise indigenous plants whenever you can, or, at least plants that are sure to thrive in your climate conditions. 

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One Comment

  1. Wow Penny,
    So happy to have found your blog.
    I followed the construction of your home on facebook, it looks stunning! I’m going to see if I can come and find you there as I’m often I Gordon’s BY these days. When I’m not in Paternoster.
    Sending love.

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