He was born in Bury St Edmunds, the son of a tax collector, and, despite his family's wish to see him become a merchant in Norwich, Repton was determined to study botany, gardening and entomology and establish a career where he could exploit these interests.
He was a pioneer of the "picturesque" style of garden design which ended the vogue for formal gardens. In the late 18th century, he worked extensively with architect John Nash seeking to produce harmonious designs where the building fitted the surrounding landscape.
He published a book Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening in 1795 and Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening in 1803. He based these books on lessons learned from the 'Red Books' he prepared for his clients, showing the transition of his designs (including 'before' and 'after' sketches).
Repton designed the gardens of many of England's foremost stately homes: