The look and feel of a landscape (i.e. garden and lawn) not only anchors a structure (such as a house) to its site, but also visually connects it with the surrounding environment. That is where the responsibility of a professional landscape architect comes in, whose job it is to design attractive and functional public parks, public- and private gardens, playgrounds, residential areas, university campuses, cemeteries, hospital gardens, and other public spaces.
Landscape architects also plan the correct locations of buildings, roads, pathways, trees, and flowers within these environments to ensure the finished result is visually aesthetic and practical. (Read more: 6 landscaping ideas for South African gardens)
It should be kept in mind that landscape architecture is very regional, especially in South Africa where the climate and weather changes considerably from region to region. That is why it is important to locate a landscape architect who is:
▶ Landscape architects
Anybody wishing to pursue a career in landscape architecture needs to obtain a bachelor's and/or a master's degree in landscape architecture from a reputable university or college. Afterwards, they must be licensed to design and work on landscape projects.
A trained and reliable landscape architect will have experience or training to work with challenging issues in both the commercial- and residential sites, including:
Landscape architects can be employed in private-, public-, and academic organisations.
▶ Landscape- and garden designers
The main way of differentiating between landscape architects and landscape designers is that the latter usually work on smaller residential projects. But even though some landscape designers may have undergone training similar to landscape architects, they do not have the appropriate license which is required by all landscape architects.
Some landscape designers are self-taught, but most have taken courses online, at college, or through a certificate program to obtain the skills and necessary knowledge.
The majority of landscape/garden designers work with plants. Some may even have experience with hardscape (the hard stuff in your yard such as bricks, concrete and stone), especially in regions prone to droughts. Drought-stricken areas usually resolve to use pebbles and bark for garden designs, along with succulents and native plants – thus, landscape designers need to have the necessary experience / knowledge. However, if any earth-moving construction needs to be done, or walls are erected or electrical work is required, a licensed landscape contractor is brought on.
In short: A landscape architect may work in the fields of both designer and landscape architect, but a landscape designer cannot do what a landscape architect is licensed to do.
Even though the results of a landscape architect's work are outside, the majority of these professionals' time is spent in offices. It is there where they create plans and designs, prepare drawings and models, calculate cost estimates, and meet with clients and other professionals involved in projects. The rest of their time is spent outdoors at jobsites.
Landscape architects, similar to architects, make use of various technologies to complete their work, including CAD (computer-aided design) software. These programs are used to draw up proposed plans for client's projects, which are then presented to clients at meetings.
A lot of landscape architects also make use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to obtain the GPS coordinates of different geographic features. This aids them in designing different environments by providing data on where to start planning and how to anticipate future effects of the landscape, including rainfall collecting in a valley.
Although landscape architects and firms differ from one another, a typical one in South Africa will base its fees on the following: