The city of Newcastle is located in the KwaZulu-Natal province, right at the foothills of the breathtaking Drakensberg Mountains, one of South Africa’s most popular mountain series. Similar to a lot of other South African towns and cities, Newcastle has its fair share of historic buildings and monuments, including the O'Neils Cottage and the Town Hall.
Another feature of Newcastle is its many public parks, a lot of which are scattered throughout the suburban neighbourhoods, which offer a resting spot away from city life. Various urban play parks have also been established in Newcastle, offering the city’s youth with some playing facilities that allow them to play unsupervised while being monitored by the park security.
For people to enjoy beautifully designed gardens, public parks and playgrounds, residential areas, golf courses and other exquisite outdoor spaces, there needs to be someone in charge of designing said spaces – and that is where a Landscape Architect comes in. Landscape Architects design these areas, and others, so that they are functional, beautiful, and harmonious with the natural environment.
In addition, they also play a vital role in planning the location of roads, buildings, walkways, flowers, plants and trees. Landscape Architects also become involved in designing and planning of restoration of natural spaces disturbed by humans, like wetlands, stream corridors, mined areas, and forested land.
To see some examples of Landscape Architects’ work, have a look at 6 landscaping ideas for South African gardens.
Depending on the type of project they’re involved with, Landscape Architects can join forces with Architects, Surveyors, Engineers, Environmental Scientists, Foresters, and a range of other professionals. Once a decision has been made on the best location for roads, buildings and other relevant elements, a Landscape Architect draws up detailed plans indicating topography, vegetation, paths, and other landscaping details like fountains, benches and sculptures.
Where Landscape Architects work on numerous projects for independent clients, big companies or the government, Landscape Designers busy themselves with projects of a smaller scale – usually in the residential environments. However, both professionals must meet with clients in order to discuss the project and its relevant budget and timeline. Both professionals may also use industry software to create plans or designs to present to the client for approval.
Whether they are working on public parks, playgrounds or college campuses, Landscape Architects need to consider both plants and the natural environment, plus structures like buildings and walkways. A lot of their time is also spent in offices planning, researching, and conducting meetings. To be a Landscape Architect, one needs at least a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, even though a master's degree ensures more specialised knowledge and skills for career advancement. These professionals must also be clued up on laws and regulations pertaining to building construction, drainage or energy usage.
These professionals do not need to know as much about building construction related to public spaces. Their main goal is to design visually pleasing landscapes and gardens for clients, most often in residential or private settings. ‘Softscape’ (plants and natural materials for their projects) and ‘hardscape’ (building patios, pools, walls, etc.) may both be discussed with their clients. Landscape Designers need to be knowledgeable about the plants native to their area of work, lawn care, gardening specifics, plus sustainable planting. They can either work for a landscaping company or freelance for an assortment of clients.
1. Know your budget. Before you can expect a Landscape Architect to start working on your dream project, he/she needs to know who much you are willing to spend.
2. Understand what you like. Before meeting with the professional, think about how you want that outdoor space to look. Does there need to be a walkway? Some fountains? Do you love the idea of outdoor seating? How about plants and flowers? While you’re doing your research, also consider what materials and finishes (i.e. stone, wood) colours and textures you like and don’t like.
3. Make a list. Include: what you want in your design (patio, pergola, landscape lighting, etc.); where you want it (think about how you want your outdoor living area arranged); how you will use the space (will it be to entertain, relax, or just add aesthetic value); and what you don’t want.
4. Set aside enough time. You want the Landscape Architect to understand what you expect from their design; thus, don’t schedule a meeting if you know either of you are going to be rushed. You require enough time to ask questions and be asked questions in return.
5. Find a professional with a plan. Although it’s unfair to expect the Landscape Architect to immediately come up with the perfect design during your first meeting, a professional one will be able to come up with a few suggestions that pertain to your desired garden / landscape. However, once you’ve supplied them with a detailed brief, the onus is on them to present what you’ve asked for in terms of an eye-catching presentation.