Do I Need a Landscape Architect or Landscape Designer?

Posted on: February 22, 2022

How do you maximize the potential of your backyard? Hiring a landscape architect or a landscape designer will help.

Many people assume that landscape architects and landscape designers refer to the same group of professionals. It is easy to see why people make that assumption, but that is not accurate.

You may need a specific type of professional to handle the home improvement tasks you have in mind. Make the right hire, so you get your desired results.

In this article, we will discuss landscape architects and designers in-depth. We will separate those two groups clearly so you can tell which one you need to hire for your project. You can also pick up tips on finding the professional you need by continuing with the rest of this article.

Stay tuned if you wish to enlist the help of professionals as you aim to improve your backyard!

Landscape Architect vs. Landscape Designer: How Do They Differ?

As we mentioned in the intro, landscape architects and landscape designers are different from one another. How exactly do they differ from each other? That is the question we will be answering in this portion of the article.

Check out the details below so you can better understand the differences between those two professionals. Use the information you obtain here to decide who should handle specific aspects of your backyard landscaping project.

Educational Background

The first way in which landscape architects and designers may differ from one another is related to their educational background.

Landscape designers are not required to pursue any type of degree. Most landscape designers have taken up courses related to their line of work, but that is not a prerequisite. You can still offer your services as a designer even if you are primarily self-taught.

Keep those facts in mind as you evaluate the designers who have offered their services.

The educational requirements for landscape architects are more stringent. You can only present yourself as a landscape architect if you own a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture.

A landscape architect will specifically need a landscape architecture degree accredited by either the LAAB (Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board) or LAAC (Landscape Architecture Accreditation Council), per the CLARB (Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards).

Some architects will even continue their studies until they obtain a master’s degree.

Feel free to ask for educational credentials if you are looking for a landscape architect. Given the nature of their work, you must be certain that they know what they are doing. If they lack the necessary credentials, you should go ahead and remove them from your list of candidates.

Licensure Requirements

You will also notice a difference between architects and designers when it comes to licensing requirements.

Landscape designers are not required to pursue any license or certificate before they start working. You cannot refer to government resources to find landscape designers because they are not licensed anyway.

Despite the lack of licensing requirements, most landscape designers are reputable professionals. The odds of you partnering with a con artist are low, so do not hesitate to hire a landscape designer if you need one.

Landscape architects have certain hurdles to clear before they can start working. We already discussed the educational requirements for architects above, but they don’t account for everything.

Before a landscape architect can start working, they must first obtain their license. They can obtain their license after passing the LARE (Landscape Architect Registration Examination).

Experience in the Field

Landscape designers and architects also handle the process of acquiring experience differently.

Let’s start again with landscape designers. Technically, a landscape designer does not need any experience to start working. However, inexperienced landscape designers generally have a hard time landing jobs because many homeowners base their hires on that.

Things are different for landscape architects. For aspiring architects, acquiring experience is another thing they must do if they want to be licensed.

Hopeful landscape architects must first look for a licensed counterpart. After that, they will need to gain experience while being supervised by the licensed professional they have partnered with.

Candidates who do not gain that kind of experience will not be eligible to receive a license even if they have fulfilled the educational requirements and passed the LARE.

Hiring Costs

The costs for hiring a landscape architect and designer are also different. However, the difference is probably not as big as you imagined.

The gap in hiring fees typically comes to around $20 per hour. To be more specific, hiring a landscape architect may cost $70 per hour on the low end. A landscape designer’s lowest rate is closer to $50 per hour.

Because of that gap in pricing, you may consider hiring a landscape designer instead of an architect. Unfortunately, that may not be an option for you.

Some of the tasks you need may only be handled by an architect. In that case, you will have no choice but to hire one.

Which Tasks Do Landscape Architects Handle?

One more way landscape architects differ from designers is related to the tasks they handle. Figure out the type of work you need and then hire the professional who can tackle that job.

First off, let’s take a closer look at landscape architects and the work they do.

Drawing Up Landscape Design Plans for Approval

When you hear the word “architect”, you probably think of someone who primarily works on creating plans for all kinds of buildings. A landscape architect can do much of the same for your backyard.

Hire one if you need a professional who can draw up plans for your backyard. They can come up with an actionable design plan for your yard based on your preferences.

Those plans must also be as comprehensive as possible. They must account for any features you want built on your property. If you want to build something big like a backyard kitchen, you will need the expertise of a landscape architect.

Every aspect of your new landscape architecture must account for the architect’s plans. Also, those plans should have local laws in mind. Architects need to consider those laws, or they may not be approved.

Create Plans Based on the Specific Conditions of Your Property

The specific characteristics of your property may also come into play while the landscape architect is drawing up their plans.

Let’s say that you live in an area that is known for flooding. If that is the case, the architect must create plans that can minimize that environmental threat. Those plans may not be approved if the architect fails to consider the environmental hazard that is impacting your property.

You may also run into issues with property lines. The architect must check if your backyard is close to a public road or any other public property. The plans crafted by the landscape architect must be respectful of those boundaries.

Design Fundamental Elements of Your Landscape Architecture

Not all elements of your revamped landscape architecture are supposed to beautify your backyard or give you additional gardening space. Some additions need to keep your backyard in good condition.

For instance, retaining walls support the soil and keep them in place, even at different levels. Retaining walls can also facilitate improved drainage. You can also use them to divide your backyard into smaller segments.

Professionals must design retaining walls carefully. They need to be solid to do their job while also meeting established requirements in your area. You must leave their design up to the landscape architect you hired.

You should also ask your landscape architect to design the new drainage system for your backyard. They have the expertise required for that particular so lean on them for assistance.

A landscape architect can also help out if you are interested in adding new features that will improve how efficiently your home operates. They can find room for any renewable energy stations or similar features.

Suggest Building Materials to Use

The landscape architect you hired can also tell you which materials will work best for your new backyard. They can put forth suggestions based on your preferences and the characteristics of your property.

You will still have the final say over the materials used, but it is nice to have input from an expert.

Which Tasks Do Landscape Designers Handle?

Many of the tasks you may ask a landscape designer to perform can also be handled by a landscape architect. Even so, you may still prefer to hire a designer because you are already familiar with the work. You may also opt to hire a landscape designer because they presented you with a budget-friendly rate.

Detailed in this section are the tasks that you can entrust to a landscape designer.

Choose Plants for Your Backyard and Garden

Many landscape designers focus primarily on gardening. They study plants and soil characteristics to determine which pairings work best.

Your landscape designer can tell you which plants you should choose to grow. They can also let you know how best to care for those plants, so they thrive on your property.

The insight provided by a landscape designer is valuable if you want to focus more on plants as you revamp your backyard. Use them as a resource to create the exact type of yard you want.

Plan Out the Distribution of Plants

Even if you have an idea of which plants you want to feature in your yard, you may still not know how to arrange them. That is a crucial thing to map out ahead of time. Failing to plan where the plants will go can lead to a backyard that looks less than ideal.

Once again, the landscape designer can help you grow your plants better. They can tell you where the plants should go to have a better color balance. They will also account for the height and the other characteristics of the plants while creating those plans.

Add Minor Hardscaping Elements to Your Backyard

If you are looking to add elements like fountains, fire pits, or walls to your backyard, you need to hire a landscape architect. Landscape architects are supposed to be the ones who handle hardscaping projects so ask them to work on those elements for you.

However, you can still hire a landscape designer for minor hardscaping tasks.

For example, a landscape designer can tell you where you should add crushed rocks to accentuate the overall look of your yard. They can also arrange those hardscaping elements to create specific designs.

How Do You Find Landscape Architects or Designers?

Now that you know which professional to hire, you can start the process of looking for one.

The process of finding a landscape architect is easy enough because there are readily available resources you can use. You can refer to governing bodies to determine if a particular candidate possesses the proper credentials.

Once you have found a qualified candidate, you can interview them to see if they can handle your project. Ask to see their portfolio to understand how well they work.

Landscape designers must meet certain educational and experience-related requirements before they are granted APLD membership. That is why you can feel good about hiring a landscape designer who is a member of that organization.

You will also notice that the requirements change based on a designer’s membership level. Keep that in mind as you look for a landscape designer to hire.

We hope that the information included in this article can help you decide who to hire the next time you want to redesign your backyard. If you want to ensure that you hire the right people, you can partner with us at Eco Minded Solutions. Contact us today and let us know about the plans you have in mind for your outdoor landscape.

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