I am a landscape gardening student and have been asked why the word landscaping is used and its origin. Does anyone know?

3 Answers 3


Landscape - The visible features of an area.

Landscaping - changing the visible features of an area to be more pleasing.


Wikipedia covers the origin of the word landscape.

Land is fairly obvious and the Wikipedia entry goes on at length about the origin of "scape". Here's a snippet.

On the suffix -scape:

'Landscape' is distinguished from 'land' by the suffix -scape, which is equivalent to the more common English suffix -ship.[3] The roots of –ship are etymologically akin to Old English sceppan or scyppan, meaning to shape (Merriam-Webster dict.2000. This suffix designates "something showing, exhibiting or embodying a quality or state"; as such, it generates an abstraction upon the term landscape. The suffix -ship thus designates the abstract ‘‘nature’’, ‘‘state’’ or ‘‘constitution’’ of something; these words are interlinked both as abstract essences (e.g. the nature or constitution of something) and as concretized and institutionalized entities (e.g. nature, the state, a constitution). The suffix -shaft and the English -ship are cognate, meaning essentially "creation, creature, constitution, condition).


The word landscape has been explained in the other two answers, but have a look at the work of Capability Brown - he changed landscapes on a major scale, creating hills, dales, lakes and suchlike, transforming the original landscape into something altogether different. He did, though, work mainly under the direction of a Landscape Architect - so that makes Capability the 'landscaper' because he carried out the works. That's landscaping on a major scale, but creating a rockery and planting, or terracing with hard materials changes the landscape to a degree. Landscape gardening is somewhat different from simply being a horticultural student, or a garden designer, although all may include landscaping aspects, in particular, designing. The official dictionary definition of landscape gardening is "the art and practice of laying out grounds in a way which is ornamental or which imitates natural scenery".

  • Capability Brown did some pretty amazing and long lasting stuff. Definitely one of the heavies in the field. Commented May 26, 2014 at 17:45
  • Better get to know Frederick Law Olmstead...He is the father of Landscape Architecture. An amazing human that all Americans should know. nps.gov/frla/historyculture/index.htm
    – stormy
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 18:13
  • In what way does this answer the question?
    – J. Musser
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 20:42
  • @jmusser: to whom is your query directed?
    – Bamboo
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 11:53
  • @Bamboo Your answer doesn't say why it's called landscaping.
    – J. Musser
    Commented May 30, 2014 at 16:57

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