The involvement of the public in decision-making is established as a key feature of many planning policies. However, there is evidence from the literature of a prevailing gap between participation rhetoric on paper and participation at the operational level. We assess whether this is also the case with landscape policy and review landscape characterization and assessment initiatives in England, Norway, Slovakia and Malta, focusing on five dimensions of good practice: (i) scope of public participation, (ii) representativeness of those involved, (iii) timeliness of public involvement, (iv) extent to which participation is rendered comfortable and convenient for the public, and (v) eventual influence of public input on decisions. Reviewed reporting results indicate weaknesses in the implementation of public participation, with public involvement largely limited to consultation, with few efforts to ensure representativeness of participants, with predominantly late involvement of the public, and with limited influence of the public on outputs. Furthermore, few efforts appear to be made to facilitate participation for the public. Although the cases studied differ, none of them are fully satisfactory in relation to the European Landscape Convention's participatory targets. The reporting of public participation processes thus suggests that practices may fail to match the rhetoric.