Is Landscaping Horticulture? Differences & Similarities (+8 Examples)

Savanna Stanfield

If you’re passionate about plants or creating sustainable environments, a career in landscaping or horticulture may be a good fit.

In fact, many people think that landscaping and horticulture are the same thing.

But are they really the same? And if not, what’s the difference?

The truth is that landscaping and horticulture do have similarities, but there are a few major differences that set them apart from each other.

Landscaping and horticulture do have some overlap, especially where plants are concerned.

But there are also some aspects that are unique to each one.

In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between landscaping and horticulture.

We’ll also share some examples of each one, so that you can see what the two have in common as well as what is unique about each one.

What Is Considered Landscaping? 

The term landscaping refers to making visual and functional improvements to existing land through the use of both plants and structures.

Landscaping has two basic subcategories, hardscaping and softscaping

Hardscaping involves adding structures or other non-living aspects, while softscaping involves adding plants and flowers.

Since landscaping is done as a career in most cases, you need a special knowledge of plants and how to use them effectively.

But you also need to have an eye for design in order to incorporate both living and non-living aspects into a piece of land to create a cohesive space that is both functional and visually appealing.

What Is Considered Horticulture?

Horticulture is essentially the science of growing garden crops.

Horticulture is broken down into three specialized areas: ornamental flowers, vegetables, and fruit.

Where science is involved, being able to grow garden plants successfully means studying the plants and potentially altering them genetically in order to make them grow better or increase their survivability.

Most of the time, plants that are grown through horticulture are commercialized, meaning that they are marketed for sale to garden centers and landscaping companies.

Horticulture is a career that requires highly specialized knowledge of plants, technology, and business in order for it to be successful.

What Are Similarities Between Landscaping And Horticulture?

Landscaping and horticulture are both careers that require knowledge of plants and how to plant and care for them properly.

For both landscaping and horticulture, this specialized knowledge usually comes in the form of an advanced degree and often requires certification.

Usually, landscaping and horticulture are done as careers and not as a hobby. They each provide a service to consumers.

Because of this, they are both part of the same subsector of the agriculture industry: Landscape and Horticultural Services.

The Landscape and Horticultural Services industry consists of landscape planning, care, and maintenance.

But it also involves scientific and consulting services, which is where horticulture comes in.

Landscaping and horticultural services can also be provided for clients in the private or public sector.

Many companies perform work for both residential homes and larger businesses or cities.

Because the two services are part of the same industry, they often work closely together with each other. 

Landscapers consult horticulturists about which plants will suit their clients needs. 

Horticulturists then offer suggestions about specific plants and how to best help the plants survive in that particular landscape.

In many cases, landscaping companies purchase plants from the horticulturists that they consult. This can lead to close relationships between both parties.

What Are The Differences Between Landscaping And Horticulture?

While landscaping and horticulture share many similarities, there are differences between the two as well.

The first major difference is that landscaping involves far more than just plants.

In some landscapes, very few plants will survive due to climate and other environmental factors. 

This leads landscapers to have to think of other creative ways besides just plants to add visual appeal and functionality to a space.

Because of this, landscaping usually requires knowledge of (and sometimes classes in) art and design.

Maintaining the landscape is often part of a landscaper’s job as well, including mowing grass and cutting tree limbs among other services.

Landscaping also involves knowledge of construction practices because it can sometimes involve building and installing structures, called hardscaping.

On the other hand, the large focus of horticulture is on softscaping, or plants and soil.

One misconception is that horticulture focuses only on living things. 

This is not entirely true because horticulturists need to be able to modify soil to make it optimal for supporting plant growth.

They also need to be able to establish irrigation systems that allow the plants to receive the amount of water that they need.

Soil and irrigation systems are essential parts of horticulture that are non-living.

Because of this, horticultural requires classes in both plant and soil science. Horticulture may also require classes in agriculture, technology, and genetics. 

This is because horticulturists may need to genetically alter plants in order to increase their survivability in certain climates.

Horticulture also requires knowledge of marketing and business strategies in order to be able to commercialize plants and present them to landscaping companies for sale and use.

However, a consumer doesn’t have to go through a landscaping company. They can purchase plants directly from a horticulturist.

Essentially, horticulturists grow and sell the plants, while landscapers purchase and use the plants to create landscapes.

8 Types Of Landscaping Which Are Also Horticulture

1. Flowering Trees

Flowering trees are often one of the most important parts of a landscape, because they provide shade, beauty, and food for many pollinators.

Both horticulturists and landscapers realize the importance of flowering trees, so they recommend and provide trees that will work for client’s individual needs.

2. Foundation Plants

Foundation plants are plants that are used around the foundation of homes. 

Landscapers and horticulturists can suggest great foundation plant options to each client depending on certain aspects of their home or business.

3. Lawns

Lawns make up the largest portion of both residential and municipal landscaping, but the types of grass that can be used for lawns varies based on several factors.

Landscapers and horticulturists are knowledgeable about the best types of grass to use and how to take care of it.

4. Planting Beds

Planting beds can be used for herbs, vegetables, and flowers and can be either for visual use, functional use, or both.

Horticulturists can provide the best plants for the beds, while landscapers usually install the beds and plant the vegetables or flowers that go in them.

5. Fruit Trees

Fruit trees can provide just as must visual appeal as they do functionality.

Horticulturists grow and provide fruit trees that can survive in particular environments, while landscapers plant and maintain them.

6. Shrubs

Most shrubs are fairly hardy and can survive in places that other plants can not.

Like fruit trees, horticulturists can provide recommendations for shrubs that can grow under particular conditions.

Landscapers then plant the shrubs and in some cases, prune them as necessary.

7. Water Gardens

Water gardens aren’t something that people think of when they think of horticulture.

However, there are plenty of ornamental aquatic plants that are great for growing in water gardens.

Since ornamental plants are one of the plant types horticulturists study and grow, aquatic plants for water gardens to fall under horticulture.

Landscapers usually play the largest role in installing a water garden, including helping clients establish the plants that grow in them.

8. Irrigation Systems/Soil

Irritation systems and soil are grouped together because they are both non-living aspects.

But remember that horticulture isn’t necessarily just about plants that are living.

Both proper irrigation systems and soil play a major role in the survivability of plants, and horticulturists help develop these necessary components.

Landscapers install and sometimes aid in the modification of both irrigation systems and soil.

8 Types Of Landscaping Which Are Not Horticulture

1. Grading

Grading involves changing the terrain of a landscape in order to make it more suitable for a client’s needs. 

This is considered a form of construction and is done strictly by landscapers.

Grading has nothing to do with horticulture.

2. Driveways 

Like grading, installing a driveway is a form of hardscaping and involves construction.

In a lot of cases, driveways are used for visual appeal as well as functionality.

Landscapers have the necessary tools and knowledge to create driveways that add curb appeal.

3. Fencing

Fences can be used to add curb appeal and separate different areas of the landscape.

Landscaping involves installing fences in order to protect plants and other landscape aspects.

4. Pathways 

Pathways are used to navigate between different areas of the landscape. They can be made of different materials.

Landscapers have the design knowledge to help clients choose the best pathway for their landscape.

5. Fountains

Fountains are mostly for decorative purposes but aren’t considered to be an irrigation system. 

They require installation, which is usually done by landscapers, not horticulturists.

6. Pools

Similar to fountains, pools are water features but they serve a more functional use.

Landscapers aid in designing and installing the pool for their clients, usually with the help of a pool company.

The only time a horticulturist would be involved is if there are going to be plants around the pool area.

7. Rock Gardens

Rock gardens are designed for areas that are difficult for plants to grow, but may also be used for spiritual purposes.

The rock gardens are usually designed by landscapers, who also place the rocks.

In some cases, rock-loving plants are planted with them. In that case, horticulture may be involved.

8. Decks/Gazebos 

Decks and gazebos serve a mostly functional purpose in residential landscapes.

They are usually designed by landscapers and installed with the help of residential construction contractors. 

Conclusion

Even though landscaping and horticulture are both part of the same industry, they are not exactly the same.

Horticulture is more involved in the growth, development, and marketing of plants, while landscaping is concerned with the use and visual appeal of plants as part of the environment.

Each of them also requires a different knowledge and skill set. Moreover, landscaping involves more than just the use of plants to create a functional environment.

But either of these careers offers plenty of opportunity to make a difference in terms of sustainability and eco-friendliness.

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