Landscape planning

Landscape planning is a branch of landscape architecture. According to Erv Zube (1931–2002) landscape planning is defined as an activity concerned with developing landscaping amongst competing land uses while protecting natural processes and significant cultural and natural resources. Park systems and greenways of the type designed by Frederick Law Olmsted are key examples of landscape planning. Landscape designers tend to work for clients who wish to commission construction work. Landscape planners analyze broad issues as well as project characteristics which constrain design projects.

Landscape planners may work on projects which are of broad geographical scope, concern many land uses or many clients or are implemented over a long period of time. As an example, the damage caused by unplanned mineral extraction was one of the early reasons for a public demand for landscape planning.

In Europe

Alberti wrote on the need for town squares for markets and specific implementations to make most use of the space.[1] In North Europe this developed into the idea that residential squares should planned around green spaces. The first space of this type was the Place des Vosges. Residential squares were also made in Britain and their planning developed into the idea of incorporating public open space (public parks within towns). Frederick Law Olmsted gave momentum to this idea with his proposal for a park systems in Boston - the famous Emerald Necklace. Patrick Abercrombie took up this idea and incorporated it in his great 1943-4 Open Space Plan for the County of London.

In the US

In the United States, landscape architects provide landscape planning services focused on the natural environment along with urban planners. But, unlike Canada and Europe, the US does not have a national land use planning system. Frederick Law Olmsted and Ian McHarg are two influential American landscape architects that also worked as planners. McHarg's work on overlay landscape planning contributed to the development of GIS and to the foundation of ESRI by Jack Dangermond.


The principles of landscape planning are now incorporated in various types of legislation and policy documents. In America, the National Environmental Policy Act was influenced by the work of Ian McHarg on Environmental impact assessment. In Germany, the Federal Nature Conservation Act requires the preparation of landscape plans. For the Europe Union as a whole, the European Landscape Convention has wide-ranging implications for the design and planning of relationships between development and the landscape. In Asia, major development projects are taking place and illustrating the need for good landscape planning. The Three Gorges Dam, for example, will have extensive impacts on the landscape. They have been planned to a degree but future monitoring of the project is likely to show that better landscape planning and design would have been possible.


The conventional planning process is a linear progression of activities. The common steps are:

  • Identification of problems and opportunities.
  • Establishment of goals.
  • Inventory and analysis of the biophysical environment.
  • Human community inventory and analysis.
  • Development of concepts and the selection of options.
  • Adoption of a plan.
  • Community involvement and education.
  • Detailed design.
  • Plan implementation.
  • Plan administration.

Landscape planning not always means an ecological planning method, for that it must be considered that "planning is a process that uses the scientific and technical information for considering and reaching consensus on a range of choices. Ecology is the study of the relationship of all living things, including people, to their biological and physical environments. Ecological planning then may be defined as the use of biophysical and sociocultural information to suggest opportunities and constraints for decision making about the use of landscape". (Steiner, 1991)

See also


  • Landscape planning education in America: retrospect and prospect
  • Ecological design and planning George F. Thompson and Frederick R. Steiner, (Wiley, 1997)
  • Landscape planning : an introduction to theory and practice Hackett, Brian (Oriel, 1971)
  • Landscape planning and environmental impact design Tom Turner (2nd ed UCL Press, 1998)
  • Design with nature Ian L. McHarg ( Wiley, 1992)
  • The living landscape: an ecological approach to landscape planning Steiner, Frederick R. (McGraw-Hill College, 1991)


  1. Madanipour, Ali (2003-09-02). Public and Private Spaces of the City. Routledge. ISBN 1134519850.
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