He inherited the Studley estate in 1693, and started serious development of the garden around 1716, becoming the first in England to introduce natural landscaping. (His son William added the ruins of Fountains Abbey to the estate.)
Aislabie was also politically ambitious, becoming a Member of Parliament for Ripon in 1695, and appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1718. At the end of 1720, after the South Sea Bubble had collapsed, an investigation by Parliament found that Aislabie had accepted a large amount of company stock in exchange for his promotion of the scheme. He resigned the Exchequer in January 1721, and in March was found guilty by the Commons of the "most notorious, dangerous and infamous corruption". He was expelled from the House and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
After his release from prison, he retired to his estate and continued the development of the gardens.