Advice and Support

Caring for gardens and designed landscapes

Gardens and designed landscapes are a fragile and finite resource that can be easily damaged or lost.

1 Overview

Gardens and designed landscapes are a fragile and finite resource that can be easily damaged or lost.

The Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes identifies and provides information about the most important sites in Scotland. This is both to raise awareness of their significance and to encourage those involved in their management – or who have a role to play in their future – to treat them as valuable and distinctive places.

Inventory landscapes can’t be ‘frozen in time’, and change is often necessary – even desirable. For example, sustainable woodland management usually involves phases of thinning and felling as well as replanting.

Other designations

Inventory gardens and designed landscapes usually have a number of elements, some of which may be important enough to be designated in their own right.

Elements might be designated by:

The consent procedures for these statutory designations will apply should you wish to make changes to a listed building or scheduled monument within the landscape.


Heritage Directorate
Historic Environment Scotland 
Longmore House 
Salisbury Place 

Telephone: 0131 668 8705/8701

2 Planning policy

The planning process should take into account the garden or designed landscape and its individual elements, and aim to avoid unnecessary damage to this significant aspect of the historic environment.

The planning authority must consult Historic Environment Scotland on development proposals considered to affect an Inventory garden or designed landscape. Our involvement is limited to development that requires planning permission.

Scottish Forestry may also consult us for our views on significant felling proposals and other woodland management within such Inventory sites.

3 Day-to-day running and maintenance

The owner and/or occupier is responsible for the day-to-day running and maintenance of an Inventory garden or designed landscape.

You don’t need to involve either Historic Environment Scotland or your planning authority in new planting layouts or other changes that don’t require planning permission. But we’re always happy to offer advice and guidance.

Inventory records contain detailed information about each garden or designed landscape in the Inventory. You can use this to help promote education or the enjoyment, research or interpretation of your landscape.

Gardens and designed landscapes are part of Scotland’s national identity. Many offer opportunities for public recreation and relaxation, and so contribute to the well-being of local communities and to the economy as a major part of our tourism industry.

Gardens and designed landscapes:

  • enrich the texture and pattern of our landscapes
  • form a unique record of social, cultural and economic change
  • offer outstanding nature conservation value for wildlife
  • can form critical repositories of rare or champion trees, shrubs and plant material
  • bring numerous benefits and opportunities to people through leisure activities, tourism, education and employment

Historic Environment Scotland supports both targeted, positive management solutions for gardens and designed landscapes and the development of more comprehensive plans for their ongoing and future management.

Find out more about how landscape management plans can help.

Learn about the effects of Inventory status on garden and landscape owners.

4 Landscape management plans

Scotland’s finest gardens and designed landscapes face many challenges. We encourage all owners to prepare a landscape management plan that outlines your long-term approach to tackling these.

Challenges for owners include:

  • climate change
  • managing the resource as a whole
  • dealing with specific physical problems – e.g. deteriorating built structures or invasive species

You should seek advice on landscape management issues from an expert consultant. The solutions you pursue should be compatible with the character and historic structure of your garden or designed landscape.

There’s now a significant body of expert knowledge on sustainable management options. You can find sources of useful information at the end of our guide for owners of gardens and designed landscapes.

Download The Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland (available in English and Gaelic).

You may be able to get a grant towards the cost of preparing a landscape management plan for an Inventory garden or designed landscape. Find out about our Landscape Management Plan Grants Scheme.

Find out how we’re responding more widely to the challenge of climate change and its impact on the historic environment.


Historic Environment Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place

Telephone: 0131 668 8914