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Landscape architects in Durban

As the largest city in the KwaZulu-Natal province, Durban is also known as one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country, no doubt thanks in part to its warm subtropical climate and widespread beaches. But even the winters in Durban can be quite pleasant, if not a bit dry, with no snow or frost to speak of.

Durban is also home to Africa's oldest surviving botanical gardens, the Durban Botanic Gardens. The garden is quite extensive in size and covers an area of 15 hectares. Benefitting from the region’s pleasant climate, the garden contains an extensive collection of cycads from South Africa and from other parts of the world, ferns, orchids, bromeliads, and at least 1,354 individual trees, and about 917 palms.

In 2015, Durban was named one of the New7Wonders Cities along with other well-known locations like Havana, Beirut and Kuala Lumpur.

What do landscape architects do?

It is the responsibility of a landscape architect to plan and design land areas for projects like parks and other recreational facilities, hospitals, schools, airports, commercial industries, and residential spaces.

What does a landscape architect’s typical day look like?

Landscape architects need to confer with clients on a daily basis, as well as communicate with engineering personnel or architects that work with them on projects. They may also be asked to work with other professionals on a whole building design to maximise the aesthetic features of a structure or the surrounding land and to improve energy efficiency.

In addition, they also prepare graphic representations / drawings of proposed plans for parks and gardens.

On a weekly or monthly basis, a landscape architect draws up the designs for landscapes to help minimise water consumption, especially here in South Africa. This can be accomplished by selecting the right drought-resistant grasses or indigenous plans and succulents.

Forming part of their job is to analyse data on conditions like site locations and drainage, plus develop marketing materials and proposals/presentations to generate new work opportunities for their company.

How do landscape architects differ from landscapers and landscape designers?

It can be a bit confusing deciding on whom to hire for a landscaping project, especially if you’re still under the impression that a landscape architect, landscaper, and landscape designer is the same profession.

1.  Landscaper

Proclaimed by many as “the easy job” out of the three, landscapers busy themselves by planting new trees and shrubberies; removing, modifying and replacing existing plants and materials; establishing new planting beds; and seeding a new lawn.

There exists numerous landscaping companies that offer regular maintenance services which include your typical gardening tasks like mowing lawns, raking leaves, or edging sidewalks. These pros then come out on a weekly basis (or how often the client requires) to keep an outdoor space looking good, whether it’s for a residential house or a commercial space.

2.  Landscape Designer

Most landscape designers have backgrounds in horticulture or working at nurseries, which gives them the skills to design a landscape for a home or renovate an existing park/garden. Their job entails providing a blueprint of a yard for the client which indicates the best location for each plant and gardening feature.

Landscape designers are schooled on the principles of garden design and can help clients sidestep expensive mishaps like planting the wrong plants in the wrong places. Additionally, these professionals are skilled practitioners of important design concepts (including proportion, unity, balance, colour, etc.) which ensure a well-tailored landscape/garden design that’s both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

3.  Landscape architect

If you are not sure what you want or if your project requires changing the lay of the land, then you probably need the services of a landscape architect. Even though large or custom landscaping projects form part of these professionals’ work, they can also partake in smaller (albeit complex) residential tasks. However, advanced education or professional training is a must.

What to keep in mind with a landscape architect's services and costs

No two landscape architectural firms will necessarily handle their pricing and fee structures the same. Many companies offer free estimates or initial consultations while others charge an hourly rate, even for a first meeting. Bear in mind that this charge is not for an estimate but instead for the time the company/professional invests in learning about a client’s lifestyle and proposed project. It could also include a quick site analysis where a landscape is checked for any possible problems that might affect the project’s work and cost.

When contacting a professional for an appointment, always ask about a fee for the initial consultation. Should the landscape architect request a fee for a first meeting, find out exactly what it covers so you can prepare for a more cost-effective meeting.

The top questions to ask during an initial meeting

1.  Regarding maintenance: What will be required to keep my new dream garden/landscape design looking fresh and beautiful?

2.  Regarding architectural style: Does the style of the garden/landscape complement the architectural design of my house?

3.  After the meeting, ask yourself:

-Do I like/trust the landscape architect and do I see us working together?

-Are his/her ideas and qualifications in line with what I require for my project?

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