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Landscape architecture

Landscape architecture, the development and decorative planting of gardens, yards, grounds, parks, and other planned green outdoor spaces. Landscape gardening is used to enhance nature and to create a natural setting for buildings, towns, and cities. It is one of the decorative arts and is allied to architecture, city planning, and horticulture.

A brief treatment of landscape architecture follows. For full treatment, see the garden and landscape design.

Landscape architects begin with the natural terrain and enhance, re-create, or alter existing landforms. “Garden” generally connotes a smaller, more intensively cultivated area, frequently created around a domestic building or other small structure. “Landscape” denotes a larger area such as a park, urban area, campus, or roadside.

Trees, bushes, shrubs, hedges, flowers, grasses, water (lakes, streams, ponds, and cascades), and rocks are used to alter or create a pleasing natural setting. Such artificial devices as decks, terraces, plazas, pavement, fences, gazebos, and fountains are also used. The importance of man-made components relative to natural components varies according to the designer, the purpose of the particular site, and the prevailing culture and fashion.

Garden and landscape designs can vary conceptually between classical/symmetrical and natural/romantic, formality and informality, utility and pleasure, and private and public. An enclosed patio garden with tubs, baskets of plants, and paving contrasts with the large “natural” garden popular in 18th-century England, where man-made elements were less visible.