The Differences Between A Landscape Designer And A Landscape Architect

As the weather around the country begins to warm up and the approach of Spring is imminent, you may be thinking about sprucing up your landscaping.

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With so many design possibilities to consider, it may be overwhelming to know where to start and who to call. Depending on how you envision your yard space looking and functioning, you may be in the market for a landscaping company. Before you begin chatting with your neighbors and friends for contractor recommendations, you must know who’s who. Specifically, what are the differences between a landscape designer and a landscape architect? Simply, the differences are vast. Below, we take a look at the distinctions between the two very different specialties.

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What is a Landscape Designer?

To begin, there’s no formal training required for a landscape designer to call him/herself so. Many are self-taught individuals with a knack and affinity for garden design and horticulture. Specifically, landscape designers imagine and plan where vegetation, hardscaping, lighting, etc. will not only look most aesthetically pleasing but also where they will function best.

Moreover, landscape designers may also outline hardscaping or non-living landscaping. Hardscaping may include pavers, arbors, patios, decks, pools, stone-work, fire pits, retaining walls, water features, etc. Although your landscape designer will play an integral role in the mapping out of these features, they are not typically the same people who install the hardscaping. Landscaping contractors do the construction work relevant to excavating, laying hardscaping, and any necessary electrical or plumbing work. Essentially, the designer does just that: designs, while the physical labor of excavating, installing, and planting is outsourced to landscaping contractors. When working with a landscaping company, they typically employ these specialists who work in union to bring your project to life.

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When you first meet with a landscape designer, you will collaborate to plan the types of vegetation you imagine incorporating into your landscape along with recommendations from your knowledgeable designer. Then you may begin mapping out where these items might best be placed in your yard. There will likely be follow-up appointments which may include a joint visit to a local nursery to begin making selections. There is so much to consider when selecting your plant life. Do you hope to create shaded areas? Improve privacy? Have fruit-bearing plants? Improve air-quality? The possibilities are endless. Your landscape designer can help you focus your ideas and bring your musings to life.

In essence, a landscape designer is a creative mind behind your landscaping project. With an eye for landscaping aesthetics, the designer can help you bring your imaginings to fruition. Conversely though, if you’re having difficulty envisioning the potential of your yard, he/she can guide you as well.

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Although landscape designers do not require formal training, there are certification programs available through organizations like the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) that encourage members to keep current with trends in landscaping. Additionally, members of APLD are required to adhere to a code of professional standards and complete continuing education courses. Certainly, designers who are members of APLD can be trusted to uphold a high professional standard of landscape design. It would behoove you to look out for this accreditation in the designer’s CV.

What is a Landscape Architect?

Contrary to landscape designers, landscape architects must be formally educated in their vocation and must in fact hold, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. Furthermore, landscaping architects must also be licensed by the state in which they operate. Landscaping architects may be contracted for residential and commercial jobs, though their contracts are typically larger scale projects. While architects may design, plan, and build outdoor public spaces like parks and cemeteries, they also work on some of the following residential scenarios: irrigation and drainage, rectifying elevation issues, building retaining walls, and more.

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Residentially speaking, landscape architects have the know-how to create beautiful, functional outdoor living spaces that not only serve you now but add up to a 15% value to your home making their services an investment in your future. We’ve all heard that curb-appeal is a huge factor in selling real estate. Nothing adds curb appeal to your home like well-curated outdoor living spaces. Landscape architects have the engineering mindset to perfectly imagine and curate architecturally sound installations like fire-pits, patios, outdoor kitchens and bars, arbors, pools, decks, retaining walls, installed seating, fountains, and so much more.

Furthermore, landscape architects are trained in the placement of features and vegetation far beyond the aesthetic. They are trained to consider how the placement of particular trees may affect the energy efficiency of your home. Remarkably, by placing tall trees to block windows from the early morning and midday sun, you could significantly lower your electric bill. This is just one example of the knowledgeability that a landscape architect is armed with.

Finally, landscape architects go far beyond the design of your project. They plan, implement, and oversee your landscaping projects from start to finish. They are qualified to not only deliver superb landscape design and prowess but will do so while meeting your town and state’s regulations and codes. What’s more, is that your landscape architect will confront your project with a passion for the sustainable marriage of design and environment.

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Choosing a Landscape Company

If you’re dreaming of improving the overall aesthetic and functionality of your home’s landscape, you should consider hiring landscape professionals. Depending on the scope of your potential landscape projects, you may only require a landscape designer. However, the importance of hiring landscape architects for your big projects can not be overstated. Again, landscape designers are a great resource for helping you plan, select, and place your horticultural products, while landscape architects are the better resource for complicated projects that require engineering, architecture, and/or land surveying.

When choosing a Cincinnati landscape company, it is wise to select one who contracts both landscape designers and architects. You may find that you require the expertise of both specialists. Having access to both under the same umbrella will make your landscaping projects move seamlessly.


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