Is Landscaping Gardening? Differences & Similarities (+9 Examples)

Savanna Stanfield

The terms landscaping and gardening are often used interchangeably. Many people think that both words refer to the same act.

Is there a difference between the two?

It turns out that there actually is.

While both landscaping and gardening can involve planting, they are not the same thing.

Whereas gardening consists mostly of planting and maintaining plants to improve your yard’s visual appearance, landscaping refers to a much wider range of actions that can be done to improve a yard.

In this article, we’ll look at what is considered gardening and landscaping, as well as specific instances of each to help you distinguish between the two.

What Is Considered Gardening?

Gardening refers to the act of growing plants and vegetables on a dedicated plot of land. But gardening is not as simple as simply growing things. 

Gardening combines both art and science to design a functional environment that the plants you grow can survive in.

As an art form, gardening involves arranging plants in a way that is visually appealing, especially where flowers are considered. 

As a science, gardening involves knowing what plants can grow in your area, how to make them grow properly, and making adjustments to their environment to help the plants survive.

Not all plants thrive being planted in the ground and receiving lots of sunshine. Some thrive in water, others thrive in shady areas, and some even thrive on neglect.

Gardening is not just about planting and watching things grow. Gardening requires a certain level of knowledge about plant biology and physiology.

In order to have the most success with gardening, you need to have an understanding of how plants work so that you know how to care for them properly.

Even if you don’t have a basic understanding of how plants work, you can still be a great gardener, as gardening skills also come from experience

If a person doesn’t have a natural talent for gardening, they can learn how to better their skills.

Gardening can be a personal hobby, or you can turn it into a career to help others become better gardeners.

What Is Landscaping?

Landscaping is the act of changing existing areas of land with the goal of improving them.

Landscaping doesn’t just mean adding plants to an area. It can also mean changing the terrain or building structures.

The overall goal of landscaping is to make your yard or piece of land more visually appealing.

There are many ways you can do this with or without the use of flowers and other living things.

Landscaping consists of two things: softscaping and hardscaping.

Softscaping means changing the land to add  things that are living or temporary.

Examples of softscaping includes adding plants, trees, gardens, or making adjustments to the soil. 

Softscapes don’t do much to increase the functionality of the land. They can be easily removed or adjusted if you wish.

Hardscaping means changing the land to add things that are non-living, including structures, fountains, pathways, and the like.

Hardscapes are designed to be permanent fixtures in the landscape, so they often involve doing construction.

Hardscapes are designed to increase the functionality of the land and can’t be removed easily if you no longer want them.

In most cases, landscaping is a career and not something that is just done as a hobby.

Landscaping careers take on many forms, some involving only softscapes, some involving hardscapes, and some involving both.

What Are Similarities Between Landscaping And Gardening?

Landscaping and gardening both involve making land more visually appealing.

Usually, both require a lot of planning ahead of time in order to get the most use out of your space.

There is a specialized knowledge needed in order to be successful in both fields. Gardening focuses on growing things, and one aspect of landscaping focuses on growing things as well.

Both landscapers and gardeners can modify the soil to make it better, and landscaping careers such as a horticulturist or landscape designer involve some level of garden design as well.

What Are The Differences Between Landscaping And Gardening?

The main difference between landscaping and gardening is that landscaping focuses on living and non-living aspects, while gardening focuses only on living aspects.

While landscape designers and gardeners both plan and design the garden, the gardeners are usually the ones who maintain it.

Horticulturists usually work with both landscapers and gardeners, but their specialized knowledge of plants is more beneficial to gardeners than it is to landscapers.

To put it simply: gardening is an aspect of landscaping, but landscaping is not an aspect of gardening.

9 Types Of Landscaping Which Are Considered Gardening

1. Flower Gardens

Flower gardens usually contain plants that are native to your particular region. The types of flowers in your garden may vary based on where you live.

The types of gardens can be used just to add some color to your yard, or they can be designed with the purpose of attracting pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and birds.

The flowers that are planted or blooming in a flower garden may vary by season. They may grow from seeds or bulbs.

When planting a flower garden, some people just plant annual flowers that they have to replace each year, or perennial flowers that come back year after year.

Some flower gardens are more formal and carefully planned out. These are usually trimmed and maintained frequently in an effort to keep them looking neat and tidy.

Others are informal, where plants are grown and without a particular idea in mind. Flowers in these gardens are sometimes left to grow wild and they aren’t maintained as often.

No matter what the overall garden looks like, the purpose is the same: to add visual or aromatic appeal to your yard.

2. Groundcovers & Grasses

Groundcovers and grasses can also be a part of gardening. The term grasses doesn’t always mean the type of grass that you would find as part of a lawn.

There are plenty of grasses that are ornamental, such as fescue and fountain grass.

Ornamental grasses are used mainly for decorative purposes and can add texture to a garden.

Groundcovers are used in the place of grass in areas that grass doesn’t grow well.

They can also be used to fill in any places in your garden that need covering or to add contrast to your lawn.

The downside to groundcovers is that they don’t withstand foot traffic very well, so it is best to use them only in areas that won’t get walked on frequently.

3. Herb & Vegetable Gardens

In the past, herb gardens were used for mostly medicinal purposes. Today, the term herb garden implies that the herbs that are grown will be used for cooking.

Vegetable gardens are also grown for food purposes, but depending on the types of vegetables that are grown, they can be decorative as well.

Both herb and vegetable gardens require a sunny location with well-draining soil. These types of gardens usually have to be planted yearly if grown outside.

Herb gardens can be grown indoors year-round as long as you have a sunny window with which to grow them in.

4. Rock Gardens

Rock gardens consist of rocks that are brought in and arranged in a certain way.

These types of gardens are popular if your house is on a hill and you have a slope that needs more visual appeal.

Rocks are laid in a way that looks natural. Once the rocks are in place, plants and flowers that you would typically find growing near rocks can be planted.

The rocks provide a hospitable environment for rock-loving plants. Moss and lichens can also grow on the rocks, which are important aspects of the environment because they create healthy soil and aid in decomposition.

Rock gardens also have a spiritual purpose. They are often associated with Zen or meditation to bring people closer to and have a sense of harmony with nature.

5. Shrubs & Vines

Shrubs and vines can be used to cover large areas where flowering plants may not grow as well.

Some shrubs have flowers and others don’t, but they are a great option for adding color to a large space.

Shrubs are usually planted around the foundation of a house or building in order to help mask it.

Because they grow very large, they can also be planted in front of windows or around the edges of your yard for privacy.

Shrubs do require more maintenance than other plants. They need to be trimmed a couple of times a year in order to maintain their shape.

If you have an area that gets a lot of shade and may not be suitable for other plants, there are plenty of shrubs that can tolerate shade

Vines are great for growing on a trellis, pergola, or any other structure where you want upward growth.

However, a lot of have to be trained to grow up a structure as well as maintained to keep from growing in unwanted places or overtaking your plants.

6. Soil

Soil is an important aspect of gardening because the soil helps to anchor your plants in place and provides them with nutrition.

The type of soil you have will vary by region. Some soil is sandy, some contains more clay, and some is better for growing fruits and vegetables.

When gardening, it is important to choose plants with root structures that are suitable for whatever type of soil you have.

As an example, plants that need thick soil won’t grow well in sandy areas.

Soil can be modified to make it more acidic or nutritious for plants. You can add mulch on top of the soil, which breaks down and makes the soil more nutritious.

To make soil more acidic, you can add sulfur, moss, compost, or leaves to the soil when you plant.

Soil is also home to worms and bacteria that help keep the roots of the plant healthy.

7. Trees

Trees are a more permanent feature in a garden, so they should only be planted in locations where you won’t want to move them later. Once they are big, they can only be moved by cutting them down.

Trees can be used to add shade to a garden, especially if you live in a region that receives a lot of intense sunshine. But they can also add color as well during both the spring and fall.

Flowering trees will bloom in the spring, bringing bursts of beautiful color wherever they are planted. During the fall, leaves bring another round of color as the leaves change.

Fruit and nut trees can also be planted in your yard as a source of food for you, but they are also susceptible to animals using them as a food source as well.

8. Water Gardens

A water garden is one of the oldest types of gardens, having been in use since Ancient Egyptian times. They are also a very popular art form in Japan.

Water gardens usually consist of pools of water that contain plants that help to keep the water clean and clear. The prominent plants in water gardens are water lilies.

Once the plants are well-established, fish can be introduced to the water garden to create a mini ecosystem in your yard.

You can also plant moisture-loving plants in the damp soil around the perimeter of the water garden.

9. Woodland Gardens

Woodland gardens are great for homes that are surrounded by wilderness. These gardens are very informal and can be low-maintenance as well.

The main aspects of woodland gardens are trees, a groundcover of grass or leaves, and flowers and plants that are preexisting or native plants but considered to be “wild”.

These gardens are very natural and rely mostly on sunshine and rainfall to keep the plants healthy.

Plants that grow here are very hardy and tolerant of a variety of weather conditions.

Any maintenance that is done to woodland gardens mostly consists of trimming branches and thinning out plants.

Sometimes, thick layers of leaves are raked during autumn to “clean up” the area and help new flowers break through the ground in spring.

4 Types Of Landscaping Which Are Not Considered Gardening

1. Decks/Gazebos/Fencing

Building any type of structure in your yard or land is not considered to be gardening. This includes installing fencing or building decks, gazebos, patios, or sheds.

All of these things are considered to be hardscapes. They are non-living and don’t involve plants in any way.

If you were to plant near the fence or have a vine growing up your gazebo, then it would be considered gardening.

2. Grading

Grading the land or altering the terrain is also considered to be landscaping, but not gardening.

Grading is permanent, and it is done to either flatten the land or create slopes or hills. Grading is sometimes done to improve drainage.

It can also be used to keep water flowing away from your home or create a flood zone that certain plants thrive in. But grading has nothing to do with actually planting things.

3. Fountains/Statues/Pools

Fountains and statues are decorative features. Sometimes, larger fountains need to be installed in the ground.

If the fountain is put in place as a water feature, it is considered landscaping. If you put plants in it to create a water garden, then it is considered gardening.

Statues are used to decorate gardens. They can be made of different materials and come in different shapes or designs, but they are used to accent the garden. They aren’t a living aspect of the garden.

Installing a swimming pool can also be considered landscaping. You can decorate around the swimming pool with plants, and that would be considered gardening.

4. Pathways

Pathways can be installed as walkways through and around gardens. There are many types of pathways, but the design and installation of them is strictly landscaping.

Conclusion

When you look at aspects of both landscaping and gardening, you can see that landscaping is not the same thing as gardening.

However, gardening does fall under landscaping, because gardening is the act of planting living things and maintaining them. Gardens have to be maintained seasonally in order to sustain them.

Landscaping involves both living and non-living aspects, but only the living part of landscaping is considered gardening.

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