As you start the process of landscaping your property, you’re bound to run into two incredibly similar job titles belonging to the professionals helping to create the outdoor scenery of your dreams. As confusing as they may seem, though, a landscape architect and a landscape designer are responsible for entirely different aspects of your property.
A landscape architect is a trained and licensed professional with the skills needed to restructure a property by analyzing the land and coming up with a functional plan that includes aspects such as drainage and grading. A landscape designer, on the other hand, is responsible for the overall aesthetic of your landscape, such as the colors and plants used to create a particular style.
Although landscape architects often work in tandem with landscape designers, you likely won’t need their services unless you plan to overall the terrain of your property. If you’re still unsure which professional to call, continue reading and discover the major differences between a landscape architect and a landscape designer.
What is a Landscape Architect?
Landscape architects are trained professionals who have the skills and education needed to change the physical structure of a piece of property. In order to become a landscape architect, one must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from an accredited institution and pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.
The coursework for this type of degree is very technical and focuses on topics such as land analysis, grading and drainage, project management, and sustainable design. Over the course of the degree, landscape architects learn to overcome design challenges using retaining walls, slopes, service lines, and even driveways.
To take the Landscape Architect Registration Examination, one must have completed their degree from an accredited institution and have at least two years of professional experience. The exam is administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards and is used to test an architect’s knowledge of landscape architecture principles. After passing the exam, an architect can then earn their license and practice landscape architecture in their state.
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What is a Landscape Designer?
Landscape designers are responsible for the overall look and feel of a property’s outdoor areas. Unlike landscape architects, landscape designers are not required to have a degree from an accredited institution or pass any type of exam. However, most landscape designers have completed some type of training, whether it’s a certificate program or an associate degree.
The coursework for these programs is much different than that of landscape architects and focuses on topics such as horticulture, garden design, and landscape history. Although landscape designers are not required to be licensed, many choose to become certified through the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. To become certified, one must have at least three years of professional experience and pass a written exam.
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When to Hire a Landscape Architect?
If you’re planning on making changes to the initial physical structure of your property, such as altering the grade of your land or installing a retaining wall, you’ll need to hire a landscape architect. Landscape architects are trained to analyze land and create functional plans that take into account things like drainage and soil type.
In addition to coming up with a plan, landscape architects are also responsible for obtaining the necessary permits for your project. Once the permits have been approved, landscape architects often work with landscape contractors to oversee the construction process and ensure that the project is completed according to the plan.
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When to Hire a Landscape Designer?
If you’re not planning on making any changes to the physical structure of your property and are simply looking to beautify the landscaping, you’ll need to hire a landscape designer. Landscape designers are responsible for creating the overall look and feel of your landscape and choosing the plants and materials that will be used.
They often work with landscape contractors to oversee the installation process and ensure that the finished product matches their design. In some cases, landscape designers may also be responsible for maintaining the property after the project is completed although this often falls to a general landscape contractor rather than the designer.
Do Landscape Architects Ever Work with Designers?
Although landscape architects and landscape designers have very different roles, they often work together on projects. Because they have different areas of expertise, they complement each other and can create a more comprehensive plan for your property.
For example, a landscape architect may come up with a plan for a new patio that includes the necessary drainage and grading. The landscape designer would then be responsible for choosing the materials and plants that will be used to complete the patio.
While landscape architects and landscape designers often work together, you likely won’t need both for your project. If you’re simply looking to update your landscaping, you can hire a landscape designer. However, if you’re planning on making changes to the physical structure of your property, you’ll need to hire a landscape architect.
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Who is More Expensive to Hire – A Designer or an Architect?
The cost of hiring a landscape architect or landscape designer with vary depending on the size and scope of your project. However, landscape architects are often more expensive to hire than landscape designers. This is because landscape architects are required to have a degree from an accredited institution and pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.
In addition, they must also have at least two years of professional experience. Because of their education and experience, landscape architects often charge more for their services than designers but they are also more skilled at coming up with comprehensive landscape designs.
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Final Thoughts on Landscape Architects and Designers
It can be easy to confuse the two job titles but landscape architects and landscape designers are responsible for entirely different aspects of your property. While designers are responsible for picking plants and color patterns, architects are responsible for altering the terrain of your property. Depending on your landscaping needs, though, you may end up working with both.