9 Facts About Landscape Architecture That You Didn’t Know!

Qunli Stormwater Park. Photo credit: Turenscape

Landscape architecture is an amazing profession, covering the design, specification, and management of the built environment, as well as the analysis, preservation, and enhancement of the natural environment. Here we look at nine interesting facts about landscape architecture that you might not know. 1. Origin of Landscape Architecture Many people credit the likes of Capability Brown (1716-1783) and Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) as being the “godfathers” of landscape architecture. But it is in fact a little known Scotsman by the name of Gilbert Laing Meason who first coined the term “landscape architecture” in his little-known 1828 book “Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy”. Thankfully, this is now available on Google Books, for all to read.


Central Park, designed by one of the earliest known landscape architects Fredrick Law Olmstead. Photo credit:

2. Origin of the Word “Landscape” Landscape was originally a painting term in the 17th century from the Dutch word landschap from the middle Dutch landscap meaning “land” – region — and “scap” – ship or condition. In 1886, a more familiar interpretation of the German word landschaft came into common usage to denote a “tract of land with its distinguishing characteristics”. 3. The Country with the Most Landscape Architects

LA around the world! Image source, CC 1.0

From statistics that are available, the country with the most landscape architects per capita is Australia! It is estimated that there are currently approximately 3,000 landscape architects working in Australia – that’s 13.2 landscape architects per 100,000 population. This is despite the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture stating that there is a current shortage of landscape designers. By comparison, in 2012, there were 20,100 landscape architects practicing in the United States (technically the most per country in the world), representing 6.4 landscape architects per 100,000 population. In the United Kingdom, there are currently 4,854 registered members of the Landscape Institute (Student, Licentiate, and Chartered). This represents approximately 7.7 landscape architects per 100,000 population. 4. The Country with the Most National Parks Australia is by far the country with the most designated national parks, with 658 parks covering a total area of 335,062 square kilometers (129,368 square miles)! While Canada has a greater area statutorily protected under national park status, with 377,000 square kilometers (144,560 square miles), this accounts for only 43 parks in total, making Canada the nation with the largest national parks.

“Creative Commons Lady Barron Falls Mt Field National Park, Australia. By JJ Harrison, licensed under CC 3.0

5. The Best Place to Study Landscape Architecture in the United States Every year, Design Intelligence ranks design-based institutions that offer landscape architecture programs in North America. While the first place for post-graduate study might not be surprising (Harvard … yet again!), this year’s top spot for undergraduate study went to Pennsylvania State University (PSU). Over the last five years, PSU has been steadily improving its ranking to take the number one place, unlike Kansas State University, which this year saw a massive jump from being ranked number 11 last year to scoop second place for undergraduate study this year.

“Creative Commons Arboretum at Penn State”. By Daderot, licensed under Public Domain

6. Where Landscape Architects Earn the Most The average yearly wage bracket for chartered members of the Landscape Institute in the U.K. is £30,000-£39,000 ($50,271-$65,352). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage of a landscape architect working in the U.S. is $64,180 a year. These figures are comparable to other professionals working in the built environment. But in China, where there is a major shortage of qualified landscape specialists, landscape architecture is one of the highest-paying professions, even eclipsing the earnings of architects. 7. The Fastest Growing Country for Landscape Architecture In 1996, the Chinese government canceled all landscape architecture programs running at universities. Only one remained, with about 182 students. In those days, landscape architecture was considered a sub-discipline of urban planning, and was treated as a “third-class” degree. Thankfully, in 2011, the government reclassified landscape architecture as a separate program and placed it in the category of first-class profession.
Shengyang Jianzhu University campus, China. Credit: Turenscape

Shengyang Jianzhu University campus, China. Credit: Turenscape

The population of China is also urbanizing at an astronomical rate (from 27 percent of the population living in the urban environment in 1990 to 52 percent by the end of 2012). This fast pace of urban growth means landscape architects are at a premium. China was listed in our hit article 5 Countries Where Landscape Architecture is Booming. 8. Who Employs the Most Landscape Architects You might think that a large international, multidisciplinary practice is the largest employer of landscape architects in the world, but you would be wrong. In the U.K., the single largest employer of landscape architects is the charitable Groundworks Trust. The title of the largest employer of landscape architects in the world goes to the U.S. federal government, with the National Parks Service and U.S. Forest Service employing the most landscape architects in the world! 9. The World’s Most Viewed Landscape

Bliss you’ve all experienced! Image source Ian Burt. CC 2.0

The Great Pyramids in Egypt? The Grand Canyon, perhaps? No. The title of the world’s most “viewed” landscape goes to a small field in northern California, photographed by Charles O’Rear in 1996. The image is called Bliss — but you might know it better as the desktop background for Windows. Some estimates place the number of people worldwide who have seen this landscape photograph as more than 1 billion! With such an amazingly diverse profession, it is no wonder that there are some surprising facts about landscape architecture. If you have any interesting facts about Landscape Architecture, why not share them with us? See also: 5 Amazing Facts About Green Walls That You Didn’t Know 8 Amazing Facts About Trees That You Didn’t Know Article written by Ashley Penn

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