Landscape design anchors a house to the site, connects it with the environment and creates a welcoming entrance to your home. Landscape architects and designers work with living plants as well as building materials, so they are designing for future growth and maintenance as well as the present. And because landscape design is so regional, it’s important for your designer to be familiar with your climate and the plants that do well there.
What is a Landscape Architect? The work of the landscape architect can pretty much be summarized to include everything that is not related to the house structure itself. The landscape architect can even work with the architect to select the location for the house to be built. From there he or she will develop preliminary concepts for your landscaping, based on individual needs and the activities that will be performed in the yard, as well as designs and planting plans. The landscape architect will also design any structures or outbuildings that will be added to the landscape. Any grading changes that will be added to the landscape are also the responsibility of the landscape architect. This includes any drainage modifications. An engineer can also be responsible for these tasks, but a licensed landscape architect is fully capable. Like building architects, landscape architects will produce preliminary concept drawings as well as detailed construction documents and planting plans. Three-dimensional renderings and illustrative plans are all supplementary.
What is a landscape designer? Landscape designers generally have ecological, aesthetic and technical training, which helps them maximize the potential of your outdoor space. Keeping in mind both style and functionality, landscape designers analyze your architecture and yard to produce a plan that may or may not include location and materials for walkways, patios, water features, fences, garden aspects and more. In addition, landscape designers carefully assess your geographic region to choose plants, trees and flowers that will flourish naturally, as well as address concerns such as drainage, screening and soil conditions. Certain landscape designers only develop the plans, some may deliver the plans and then oversee a hired landscape contractor, and others — typically following a design-build approach — will take care of both the design and all aspects of the installation.
Before you hire a landscape professional, consider the scope and emphasis of your project. Landscape architects, who typically hold advanced degrees in their field, are trained to develop comprehensive structural plans that include plants, hardscaping, water use, drainage and more. Landscape designers typically specialize in the aesthetic and horticultural, rather than structural, side of yard and garden planning. They may or may not have advanced training. Even within their fields, designers may specialize in hardscape or vegetation-focused designs.
Questions to ask a prospective landscape architect or designer:
Can you provide me with references?
How long have you been in the business?
What is your certification?
Do you have liability insurance?
How much do you charge, and what does that include?
What regions/climates are you skilled in?
Can you accommodate my special requests? (ADA, LEED)
What types of renderings will you produce?
What is your experience with similar projects?
When can you complete this project?
What do your services include?
Who will be working on the project design?
What happens when costs exceed budget, whether due to materials or labor pricing changes? What about changes made by the client or by the professionals — what kinds of situations would cause those costs to be incurred?
Can you provide me with a written estimate?
What will I need to provide?
Are there any important considerations or concerns that you know of or that might happen in the future with this project?
Find a Landscape Architect on Houzz. Narrow your search in the Professionals section of the website to Landscape Architects & Designers, then choose the metro area in which you'd like to find a landscape professional. You may also look through photos by style, such as Traditional, Asian, Contemporary, Modern, Eclectic, Mediterranean or Tropical, to first find a space you like, then contact the landscape architect who posted the photo.