Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor public areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and soil conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome. The scope of the profession includes landscape design; site planning; storm-water management; environmental restoration; parks and recreation planning; visual resource management; green infrastructure planning and provision; and private estate and residence landscape master planning and design; all at varying scales of design, planning and management. A practitioner in the profession of landscape architecture is called a landscape architect.
Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of botany, horticulture, the fine arts, architecture, industrial design, soil sciences, environmental psychology, geography, and ecology. The activities of a landscape architect can range from the creation of public parks and parkways to site planning for campuses and corporate office parks, from the design of residential estates to the design of civil infrastructure and the management of large wilderness areas or reclamation of degraded landscapes such as mines or landfills. Landscape architects work on structures and external spaces with limitations toward the landscape or park aspect of the design – large or small, urban, suburban and rural, and with “hard” (built) and “soft” (planted) materials, while integrating ecological sustainability. The most valuable contribution can be made at the first stage of a project to generate ideas with technical understanding and creative flair for the design, organization, and use of spaces. The landscape architect can conceive the overall concept and prepare the master plan, from which detailed design drawings and technical specifications are prepared. They can also review proposals to authorize and supervise contracts for the construction work. Other skills include preparing design impact assessments, conducting environmental assessments and audits, and serving as an expert witness at inquiries on land use issues.