The existing structure of the designed landscape of Drum Castle was established at the end of the 18th century and incorporated the earlier features of the Church and Old Forest of Drum. The landscape appears to have been subject to alteration around 1850 and again in 1875.
The original Tower of Drum is thought to have been built in 1286 by Richard Cementarius, who became the 1st Provost of Aberdeen. In 1323 Robert the Bruce granted his secretary William de Irwin of Woodhouse the land and Royal Forest of Drum in return for his loyalty. William died in 1332 and was succeeded by his son, Thomas. The twelve subsequent lairds were all named Alexander Irwin, or, as the name was adapted to, Irvine.
The 9th Laird added the Jacobean extension to the original tower in 1619 by which time the family were the largest landowners in Aberdeen, Kincardine and Angus. Their loyalty to King Charles I and that of the Stuart cause, however, caused their prosperity to decline. Drum Castle was plundered by the Earl of Argyll's troops who, according to the historian Spalding, destroyed the 'pleasant garden planting' which existed at this time. The Irvines' support of the Stuart cause in the 1715 and 1745 Rebellions resulted in the forfeiture of parts of the estate. There was little improvement to the designed landscape until the latter years of the 18th century, when the 18th Laird was known to have subscribed to the Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Records kept from his succession in 1775 until about 1796 suggest a considerable amount of activity in the garden. Alterations were also made to the house at this time and further work was carried out in 1850 and again in 1875.
In 1964 Mr H.Q. Forbes Irvine, the 24th Laird, made an agreement with the National Trust for Scotland that, on his death, the Castle, policies, Home Farm and 170 acres of woodland, including the Old Forest of Drum, would pass into its care. In 1976, this agreement came into force and Drum Castle, which had been held by the Irvine Lairds for over 650 years, passed into the care of the NTS.