Landscape Architect Career Facts

Landscape architects have fascinating jobs. This work involves creative design and planning, often using highly advanced technology and techniques. Good examples of landscape architecture at work include large public areas like college campuses, parks, public facilities and other city areas.

The work environment

Most landscapers either work as self employed people, or for large organizations which do contract work for developers, real estate agents, major corporations, or similar big budget projects. At any level, landscape architects work in a strongly competitive, client driven market. It's a booming industry, and some contracts can be worth millions.

The landscape architect's job is to create and implement landscape and architectural designs. The landscape architect also acts as a consultant, advising the client of issues and factors in creation of designs. This work involves detailed planning, site surveys, and frequently extensive research into the topography and environmental elements involved in implementing the design. Each project involves individual study and analysis of the requirements of the job.

This is a fairly typical example of landscape design and its issues: A landscape architect is asked to create a water feature with trees and a formal garden surrounding the water feature. The plan calls for a large artificial pond, with water lilies and other decorative features.

The landscape architect first does a site survey, checking elevations, soil types, and topography. The survey shows some significant problems for the water feature: Drainage on the site is poor. The lower lying area is soggy after rain, and the site area requires guttering and runoff work. Soil in the area above where the water feature is planned is sandy, therefore not suitable for a permanent water feature, because water drains off rapidly, creating the drainage issues lower down. The water feature will have to be sealed, (given an artificial bottom) and water reticulated through a pump system.

This will cost the client extra money, and a consultation is held to decide on the most cost efficient method of achieving the design with the added issues. The client is concerned about the extra cost, and needs a solution.

The landscape architect suggests that the trees surrounding the water feature can help provide a permanent solution to the drainage issues. Willow trees, which are river plants, take up large amounts of water from their surrounds. If planted in the soggy lower area and around the water feature, they'll reduce the requirement to install drainage and therefore lower costs, including maintenance costs. The willows also suit the design plan, and serve a useful design function in terms of the aesthetics of the plan. Ecologically, the trees also provide necessary wind protection for the garden and a leaf canopy for visitors.

The career environment

This can be a very high income profession with many opportunities. Landscape architects work their way up the professional scale on the basis of levels of responsibility, budget sizes, design portfolios and specializations. A landscape architect will usually be highly mobile in terms of job opportunities, often working in roles as an independent consultant, or an employee of construction development organizations.