Whether you would like to have an outdoor patio built in your backyard or want to enhance the entire landscape around your home, it’s important that you get in touch with the right professional for the job at hand. In this case, a landscape architect can help turn your vision into reality. A landscape architect is a kind of architect who can design every element of outdoor space and make sure that these elements are able to be correctly integrated into the property. If you want to enhance the aesthetics and curb appeal of your home, a landscape architect may be the exact professional you need.
The kinds of projects that a landscape professional can work on include creating an outdoor kitchen, adding irrigation, designing an in-ground pool or spa, and adding various structures to the yard. The professional you hire can also help you determine which types of lighting and plants would work best in your landscape. Along with understanding how to design outdoor structures of all types, landscape architects have the expertise and training necessary to take site issues into account. A couple of the more common challenges that these architects must tend to include slope problems and drainage issues.
In the event that you’re designing a home from scratch, hiring a landscape architect is necessary if you want the landscape around your home to be beautiful and functional at the same time. They can help you identify the best areas for parking, driveways, and entries. Keep in mind that many landscape architects are able to complete sustainable projects, which you may require when creating a green home. This article provides you with a detailed guide on landscape architects and the benefits that are derived from hiring one.
Education and Licensing Requirements for Landscape Architects
In order for someone to become a licensed architect, they must first complete a substantial amount of education. There are two specific degrees that someone can earn when they want to become a landscape architect, both of which are bachelor’s degrees. The two degrees that are available for prospective landscape architects include a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture and a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. If you want to improve your employment opportunities, it’s essential that the program you apply for is accredited.
Some of the subject matter that a person would study when enrolled in this program includes art, design, history, social sciences, construction techniques, and natural sciences. Just like most bachelor’s degrees, you should expect to complete the program after 4-5 years of study. At the moment, around 45 states have at least one university that offers an accredited landscape architect degree. The main accrediting agency for these degrees is the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board.
When a person wants to work as a landscape architect, they must obtain a license in all but three states. In 47 states, a license is required if a person wants to practice landscape architecture. For the three remaining states, it’s possible for anyone to perform landscape architecture even if they don’t have the qualifications to do so. However, a license is still required for anyone who wants to use the landscape architect title. The same is true for anyone who wants to advertise the landscape architecture services they provide.
The job itself has proven to be very popular across the U.S. At the moment, nearly 27,000 people are employed as landscape architects, which is an increase of more than 10,000 since 2014. Since more and more prospective homeowners are thinking of constructing their homes from scratch, landscape architects are more in demand than ever. The requirements for someone to earn a landscape architect license differ with each state. However, all candidates will need to pass an exam before they can earn their license, which is referred to as the Landscape Architect Registration Examination. This is a four-part exam that tests the knowledge, abilities, and skills that the individual has.
Landscape Architects vs Designers
When you’re thinking about hiring a landscape architect, you should be aware of how landscape architects differ from landscape designers. When someone wants to be a landscape architect in California, they must first meet some stringent requirements. These requirements state that the professional must have at least six years of experience if they want to be a fully licensed landscape architect. They must also pass the aforementioned test before they can earn the license that will allow them to hold the landscape architect title.
This designation means that the professional can tackle highly complex projects that include municipal and commercial projects. If you want to hire a professional who can handle any issues that arise while designing your landscape, a landscape architect should be your first choice. Landscape designers can help you plan and design any kind of residential landscaping project. The many design aspects that a landscape designer can handle include structures, materials, lighting, plants, hardscaping layout, and irrigation.
The companies that landscape designers work for must hold home improvement contractor licenses in order for their employees to assist with the design of a landscape. Once they discuss layout plans with you, they won’t perform any of the heavy-duty work that must be done. If the project is more complex, they will hire a structural engineer. A structural engineer may be necessary when installing a pool or adding a comprehensive drainage solution.
Once a landscape architect has designed the deck, structures, or irrigation systems that you would like to add to your yard, a landscape contractor may need to be hired to perform the work. The landscape contractor will be responsible for making sure that the project is constructed in accordance with the final design. The main difference between these two professions is that contractors are builders who understand how to turn a design into an actual structure. The many services that a landscape contractor is able to provide include:
- Clearing and grading the land
- Building water features, patios, decks, paving, rockscapes, and similar structures
- Making sure that the property contains the proper drainage systems
- Installing and managing irrigation systems of all types
- Installing lighting for aesthetic and safety purposes
- Creating specialty gardens and interior landscapes
- Auditing the household water use to make sure that water waste is eliminated
- Making sure that chemicals and pesticides aren’t used throughout the landscape and garden
- Identifying the right plants and trees to place across the landscape
If you’re thinking about hiring a landscape contractor, it’s highly recommended that you ask to see a list of references or project images from their past work. This information will help you determine if the contractor in question is reputable and has the expertise needed to complete your landscaping project. Some online research can also pay dividends when you’re trying to sift through the many landscape contractors in your area.
5 Specialties of Landscape Contractors
Landscape contractors can have five specialties, which you should know about before hiring one. If your project would fall under one of these specialties, you should consider hiring a contractor who specializes in that kind of work. The five specialties that a landscape contractor can focus on include:
- Maintenance – This kind of contractor will have extensive horticulture education and can provide you with weekly lawn care, pruning, fertilization, and pest management services
- Design and build – This kind of contractor can design different outdoor elements and structures, which include gazebos, decks, and swimming pools
- Residential/commercial – These landscaping projects can be larger in scope and may apply to multi-unit houses as well as commercial properties
- Installation – A contractor who specializes in installation can help you install everything from plants and water features to walls and pools in your landscape
- Exterior and interior – While certain landscape contractors will specialize in both interior and exterior landscaping projects, many prefer to focus on either interior or exterior projects
Questions to Ask A Landscape Architect
1. Have you worked on a project similar to this before?
You’ll want to hire a landscape architect who has worked on projects in the past that are similar to yours. If the architect says that they have relevant experience, ask to see some of their work and previous design plans. In the event that the architect is evasive, they likely don’t have the right experience for your project.
2. Are there any client references we can take a look at and call?
When you ask for client references, make sure that you actually call these past customers. Ask these clients if the architect handled issues professionally and if they communicated properly while the project was ongoing.
3. What do you charge for your services?
Make sure that you inquire about costs pertaining to the services that the architect provides. Landscape architects can charge an hourly rate or can offer a full package with a single cost attached to it.
4. What challenges do you see with this type of project?
Asking this question will allow you to identify how the architect views your project and what problems they believe would occur while the project is ongoing. You can also learn how the landscape architect is able to solve the more common design problems.
Whether you are designing an entire landscape from scratch or would like to enhance your current landscape, hiring a landscape architect is highly recommended if you want a professional by your side who can manage the entire project, which includes everything from the concept stage to the construction stage. These professionals have the expertise and knowledge needed to handle any problem that occurs throughout the project, which is essential if you want to avoid any unforeseen expenses.
Since a beautiful landscape can significantly improve the curb appeal and value of your home, you should consider hiring a professional who’s licensed and knows how to perform any landscaping job they’re hired for. However, landscape architects aren’t always needed. If your project is smaller in scope, it may be enough to hire a landscape designer who can bring your project to fruition without adding too much to the project costs.
Jason Somers, President & Founder of Crest Real Estate
With over 15 years of professional experience in the Los Angeles luxury real estate market, Jason Somers has the background, judgement and track record to provide an unparalleled level of real estate services. His widespread knowledge helps clients identify and acquire income producing properties and value-ad development opportunities.