The landscaping industry is broad and choosing the right professional depends on the demands of your project. Hiring the right professional can put your dream garden into reality. Hiring the wrong professional could become a costly mistake that you may not even realize for years later, when that shrub planted two feet from the house grows 15′ wide.
Here are the main types of landscape professionals.
Landscape architects are licensed professionals who have training in technical and design skills. They can work as a designer, consultant, or as a design build professional. Landscape architects can have many skills including engineering, horticulture, design, and graphic design. They can design irrigation, grading and drainage, planting plans, construction details, and hardscape surfaces.
Residential design is one of the smallest fields of landscape architecture profession. Most landscape architects work at a firm focusing on larger projects such as designing campus’, shopping centers, housing developments, cityscapes, community spaces, and more.
In general landscape architects are not known for having much horticultural knowledge since their strong-suit is more in design and construction. A landscape architect must have a four year degree, pass national exams, and keep a certification within their state. A person can have a degree in landscape architecture without being a licensed landscape architect.
Landscape designers are designers who create landscape designs which can include planting plans, hardscaping, and other garden features. They are also diverse in their background and skillsets. Many have degrees in art, architecture, horticulture, or landscape architecture. They should know fundamental design concepts, be creative, and have extensive plant knowledge.
A landscape designer can become certified as a professional through some certification organizations like the APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers) or have memberships to other local, state, and national groups. The background, education, and experience can vary greatly from designer to designer.
Some landscape designers will work for themselves, as part of a small team, or with a larger landscaping business. They can also work for arboretums, botanical gardens, and conservatories creating and maintaining the grounds.
Design Build Firm
This type of business will have a team with different types of landscape professionals. This can include a landscape architect, landscape designer, design assistants, administrative employees, supervisors, and landscaping crews. They can provide the landscape as one package; the design, installation, and care.
A landscape contractor will install a design that has been created by a landscape architect or designer. Contractors can specialize in different types of landscape installation work from planting, irrigation, lighting, hardscaping, and more. If a contractor does not have expertise, the equipment, or the team to do certain tasks, they may subcontract the work. A landscape contractor focused business usually only offers installations and maintenance.
A landscaper is a professional who offers garden care services and probably some installation services as well such as planting. They usually offer routine services like spring and fall cleanup, weeding, edging, mulching, pruning, disease and pest treatment (if they are licensed). They may have additional services like lawn care.
The expertise of a landscaper will vary greatly since they don’t need any formal education or certifications. Anyone can invest in a few tools and call themselves a landscaper. This is why it is important to judge the needs of your landscape, research the business, and hire the proper professional.