Do I Need a Landscape Architect or Landscape Designer?

September 25, 2023
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Hiring a landscape architect or a landscape designer, alongside your landscape contractor, might help guide your landscape design project.

Many people assume that architects and 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 your landscape project. Make the right hire, so you get your desired results.

In this article:

  • Landscape Architect vs. Designer: How do they differ?
  • Which tasks do Landscape Architects handle?
  • Which tasks do Landscape Architects handle?
  • How do you find Landscape Architects or Designers?

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

As we mentioned, architects and designers are different from one another. How exactly do they differ from each other? As landscaping contractors, Eco Minded Solutions has both positions in-house.

Educational Background

Landscape designers are not required to pursue any type of degree. Most 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.

The educational requirements for architects are more stringent. You can only present yourself as a landscape architect if you have a bachelor’s degree in architecture. 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 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 and a good track record when working with landscape contractors.

Let’s start again with 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.

Which Tasks Do Landscape Architects Handle?

One more way 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—including water features, irrigation systems, patios and deck layouts, as well as other essential structures.

Create Plans Based on the Specific Conditions of Your Property

Not all elements of your revamped 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 and masonry 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 in adding new features that will improve how efficiently your home operates. They can find room for any renewable energy stations or similar features.

Design Fundamental Elements of Your Landscape

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.

Suggest Building Materials to Use

The landscape architect you hired has the knowledge to 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 your vision, but it is nice to have input from an expert.

Which Tasks Do Landscape Designers Handle?

Many of the tasks you may ask a 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.

Choose Plants for Your Backyard and Garden

Many landscape designers focus primarily on gardening. They study plant material, soil characteristics, and more to determine which pairings work best.

Your designer can tell you which types of vegetation you should choose to grow. They can also lend your maintenance advice, so they can 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 Flora

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.

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