The designed landscape was laid out between 1823-55 with additions by later owners, in particular Thomas Macknight Crawfurd between 1871 and 1902. There are no known designers.
In the late 13th century, the farmlands of the estate were recorded as belonging to the Crown. Since 1290, the estate has known 32 different lairds. In the late 15th century the lands belonged to the family of Lawranstoun who took their name from the estate. In 1540, they sold to the Forresters of Corstorphine who, in 1590, sold to Sir Archibald Napier of Edinbellie, Stirlingshire & Merchiston, following his second marriage to Dame Elizabeth Moubray. Sir Archibald commissioned the Tower House, the core of the present Castle; his initials are carved on a pediment above the right-hand window and his wife's initials above the top left-hand window. His son by his first marriage was John Napier (1550-1617) who invented logarithms. Sir Archibald was succeeded by his son by his second marriage, Sir Alexander, who became a Lord of Session and was titled Lord Lauriston after the sale of the estate in the early 1620s. He died in 1629 and three other families owned the estate between then and 1683 when it was bought by William Law, an
Edinburgh goldsmith and financier. In the same year however, Law died. His son, John, inherited but neither he nor his successors lived there and there are no records of any tenancy during the next 140 years. John William Law sold the estate in 1823 to Thomas Allan, who commissioned William Burn to extend the Tower House to its present form. Allan died suddenly in 1833, without heirs. Two years later, the estate was bought by William Ramsay, an MP who owned the neighbouring estate of Barnton. He joined three Lauriston fields to the Barnton estate and then sold the Castle and remainder of the estate to Andrew, Lord Rutherfurd, (1791-1854) Solicitor General for Scotland and subsequently Lord Advocate in 1866. Between 1859-71, the residency period of Miss M.G. Mipherson Grant of Aberlour, the model dairy to the east of the house was built. Thomas Macknight Crawfurd purchased Lauriston in 1871, and immediately commissioned alterations to the house, among these being the creation of a link between the coachman's quarters and the main house, thus making a side entrance. Many pieces of ornamentation were added to the house and gardens from his 17th century family home of Cartsburn.
In 1883 the OS Gazetteer described beautiful pleasure grounds around the house, although conflicting reports suggest that the house and grounds were neglected for a period before their sale to William Robert Reid in 1902. Reid was proprietor of Morison & Co, cabinet makers in Edinburgh, and it was he who 'modernised' the house and amassed the collection of Edwardian furniture which remains in the house today. He gradually reduced the number of trees in front of the house and remodelled the pond, a former quarry, decreasing its depth to make it safe. He died in 1919 and, on the death of his wife several years' later, the house and grounds were gifted to the City of Edinburgh. During the World War II, the house was occupied by the Home Guard. Since then, it has been maintained as a museum and the grounds opened for public recreation.