The 27 Most Iconic Landscape Designs on the Planet

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland

Even the most successful landscaping business owners need inspiration now and again! Where better to turn than Central Park, Kew Gardens or the Gardens of Versailles? These are among the most iconic landscaping designs on the planet and for good reason—completely unique in design and style, each one is a testament to the creativity and innovation of its landscape designer and architects.

Join us for a quick exploration of Epcot, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and other world-famous landscape designs. Many of the landscaping trends showcased in these designs were revolutionary and modern at the time, and now persist as timeless, classic elements of the best in landscape architecture.

Beyond our initial 5 incredibly popular landscape projects, there’s much more to explore. Don’t miss the other 22 inspirational landscape projects at the end of this post!

1. Central Park: Where Landscape Architecture was Born

Central Park’s lush green landscape as captured aerially by Global Citizen Festival Central Park New York City from NYonAir.

The very same brilliant minds that designed New York’s 843-acre Central Park came up with the term “landscape architecture” itself. In fact, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, co-designers of Central Park, are credited with founding the profession in the United States.

A sprawling green sanctuary in bustling Manhattan, Central Park combines the elements of pastoral, picturesque and formal landscape design envisioned by Olmsted and Vaux. Shaded walks give way to sprawling lawns, public gathering spaces, and peaceful waters. According to the Central Park Conservancy, Olmsted designed the picturesque landscapes to “create a degree of obscurity not absolutely impenetrable, but sufficient to affect the imagination with a sense of mystery.”

Today, you can see the work of contemporary landscape designers in Central Park on display as they work to restore and preserve this historic outdoor space.

Lesson for Today’s Landscaper: When it comes to design/build projects for urban clients, focus on creating a sense of escape.

2. The Gardens of Versailles are an Iconic French Landscape Design

“The parterre de Latona has an area of almost 3.5 hectares and is immersed in the composition of the Versailles gardens… flower beds were added at the end of the 19th century.” – Chateau Versailles

A keen eye to art and architecture in outdoor spaces came naturally to landscape designer André Le Nôtre. The son and grandson of gardeners of the French court, he eventually became gardener to the king’s brother and other French lords himself. His early landscape architecture works soon caught the eye of King Louis XIV, who chose this seventeenth-century landscaping entrepreneur to design the king’s garden.

Le Nôtre is best known for his spectacular landscape architecture at Vaux-le-Vicomte and Versailles. Recent restoration efforts combined ancient and contemporary landscaping methods to return the Gardens of Versailles to their original appearance.

Lesson for Today’s Landscaper: Study the history of the property or its location to infuse tradition into modern design.

3. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Landscape designer Diego Suarez helped bring John Deering's vision for the grounds of Vizcaya Villa to fruition.
John Deering’s Vizcaya Villa is now an accredited museum and touring gardens for landscape design lovers of all kinds.

Formerly known as Vizcaya Villa, this property on Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida, was the estate of American businessman James Deering. Sprawling gardens, natural woodlands, and a historic village combine elements of Italian Renaissance, Mediterranean Revival, and Baroque landscape and building architecture. Landscaper Diego Suarez worked alongside artistic director Paul Chalfin to bring Deering’s vision for the original 180 acres to life.

Completed in 1922, the formal gardens are situated between a native mangrove shore and forest. Geometric plantings, sculptures, and architectural structures beg visitors to explore.

Now just 50 acres, the property suffered hurricane damage in 1926, 1995, and 2005. Funders including Miami-Dade County, FEMA, Save American’s Treasures and others have committed substantial sums for restoration and preserving the landscaping and buildings for the enjoyment of all. You can visit Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami or learn more about this iconic landscaping project online.

Lesson for Today’s Landscaper: Consider collaborating with a local historian or interior designer to bring a vision to life.

4. Kew Gardens an Inspiration to Landscape Contractors of All Stripes

Sapphire Star was one of a collection of glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly on display at Kew Gardens in 2019. Image: Des Blenkinsopp

In the 16th century, the land on which the sprawling botanic collection we now know as Kew Gardens grows was simply Kew Field, a tract of farmland surrounded by private and royal estates. Scottish-Swedish architect William Chambers built the first landscaping structures on the park formed by Henry, Lord Capell of Tewkesbury, in what is now southwest London. Kew Gardens was enlarged and extended by Augusta, Dowager Princess of Wales, then enriched by George III.

In 1840, the gardens became a national botanic garden and soon were increased in size. Today Kew Gardens is the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world” and is home to approximately 95% of vascular plant genera and 60% of fungal genera. The property boasts a seed collection that would keep even the most experienced landscape contractors busy for weeks; its Millennium Seed Collection represents the greatest concentration of living seed-plant diversity on Earth.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kew Gardens is an inspiration to landscaping startups, botanists, and the general public. If you can’t make it to the site 30 minutes outside of Central London in person, be sure to explore the stunning landscape architecture of Kew Gardens online.

Lesson for Today’s Landscaper: To cultivate talent and become the best at your trade, allocate time every month to research and professional development.

5. Epcot is a Landscape Design ‘Living Classroom’ for All

Each landscaping element at Epcot is carefully designed and placed to contribute to the story the grounds tell as a whole.

One of Walt Disney’s personal projects, EPCOT is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Although the project didn’t come together quite as he had planned (you’ll have to read Walt Disney’s Epcot Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow [Harry N Abrams Inc., 1982] for more, as we can’t possibly do his vision justice inside of one blog post), Disney would surely be proud of the landscaping legacy he left in Epcot.

Today, you can explore the stories of Epcot’s historic gardens in “Gardens of the World,” an experience guided by Disney’s horticulture experts. In the “living classroom” that is Epcot, you’ll learn how the landscaping professionals at Disney tell elaborate stories through garden beds, shrubs, topiaries, and hedges.

Disney promises that Epcot is the place to ignite your imagination, and this is as true for local landscapers and landscape designers as it is for starry-eyed children the world over.

Lesson for Today’s Landscaper: Make Epcot a destination for landscaping education, inspiration, and innovation, whether you make the trek to Florida or simply visit online.

22 More Inspirational Landscape Designs

Check out these international examples of stunning landscape design and get inspired for your next project:

  1. Jardin Majorelle, Marrakesh, Morocco
  2. Plaza Euskadi, Bilbao, Spain
  3. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, England
  4. Indochina Villas Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  5. Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  6. Kenroku-en Garden, Rokuen-cho, Japan
  7. High Line Park, New York, USA
  8. Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
  9. Puerto Vallarta Malécon, Jalisco, Mexico
  10. Garden of Australian Dreams, Canberra, Australia
  11. Temple Newsam Park, Leeds, England
  12. Yanweizhou Park, Jinhua, China
  13. Al Azhar Park, Cairo, Egypt
  14. Prospect Park, Brooklyn, USA
  15. Kemensah Hevea Garden, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  16. Schouwburgplein Public Square, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  17. Brigit’s Garden, County Galway, Ireland
  18. The Tree House, Singapore
  19. Compton Verney Art Gallery & Park, West Sussex, England
  20. Lurie Garden at Millennium Park, Chicago, USA
  21. Kokedera (Moss Temple), Kyoto, Japan
  22. Garden of Cosmic Speculation, South West Scotland

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The 27 Most Iconic Landscape Designs on the Planet

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