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Landscape Architect in Welkom

Located in South Africa’s Free State province, Welkom was put on the map due to the discovery of gold in the region. It officially became a town in 1948 and a municipality in 1961.

Welkom is about 140 km north-east of Bloemfontein and approximately 260 km south-west of Johannesburg. The city’s Sesotho name, Matjhabeng, means 'where nations meet'. This was derived from the migrant labour system, where workers of various neighbouring countries (including Lesotho and Malawi) met while working in the gold mines.

During the 90s, the gold price declined, resulting in Welkom’s manufacturing industry being promoted to support South Africa’s economy. Today, a variety of other maintenance industries and services can still be found in Welkom, including engineering and mechanical repairs.

Welkom is known by many as the “garden city”, seeing as there’s no shortage of picturesque, shady parks (such as West, Van Riebeeck, Central, and Peter Pan) that offer resting-and-relaxation spots for residents and visitors during the summer months.

What do Landscape Architects do?

It is Landscape Architects’ jobs to design beautiful, safe, and functional public parks, gardens (both public and private), playgrounds, university campuses, and other public spaces. They also help to plan where buildings, roads, flowers, trees, sculptures, and bridges are to be placed within these environments.

Landscape Architects make use of various technologies for their work, such as CAD (computer-aided design) software to create and present 3D renderings of proposed layouts to clients. A lot of these professionals also use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which provide them with GPS coordinates of different geographical features. This aids Landscape Architects in designing different environments by providing evidence on where to start planning, how to anticipate future effects of the landscape (like how rainfall will affect the environment), etc.

Get some visual inspiration for outdoor beauty with these 6 landscaping ideas for South African gardens.

What are a Landscape Architect’s daily duties?

Although it all depends on the location and type of project they are working on, Landscape Architects typically busy themselves with the following:

  • Setting up meetings with clients, Engineers, and Architects to understand what a project’s requirements are;
  • Preparing site plans, specifications, and cost estimates for their projects;
  • Coordinating the arrangement of existing and planned land features / structures;
  • Designing 3D renderings (and sometimes physical miniature models) to present to clients;
  • Shifting through various landscaping materials to find the most appropriate ones to use for a site;
  • Analysing environmental reports on land conditions, such as drainage and energy usage;
  • Being present on-site to ensure a project proceeds according to plan;
  • Seeking new work via marketing activities or presentations.

How do Landscape Architects differ from Gardeners?

Although both professionals focus on creating and maintaining functional, aesthetically pleasing outdoor spaces, there are quite a few differences between Landscape Architects and Gardeners.

First of all, there are two types of Landscapers:

  • Landscape Architects working on landscapes, and
  • Landscape Builders (also sometimes known as just ‘Landscapers’) who do the physical work of creating a landscape.

It is entirely possible for a Landscape Architect to also be a Landscape Builder, or they can have landscaping teams working with them. Similar to how an Architect supervises a building project, so does a Landscape Architect manage a landscaping project.

A major difference between a Landscape Architect and a Gardener is the scope of work they are qualified to do. Since construction can form a part of their job description (such as designing / building a concrete patio or pergola for a client, known as “hardscaping”), Landscape Architects usually need one or more specific types of trade licences. For the same reason, Landscape Architects may also sometimes be required to use heavy equipment or supervise heavy equipment operators.  

Not all Gardeners have (or are required to have) trade licences. Usually after a Landscape Architect has finished with the construction of an outdoor space, the Gardener will start his job and maintain it by mowing lawns, pruning plants, etc. However, a Gardener will never erect a gazebo or do any type of “hardscaping” project similar to a Landscape Architect.

Want to hire a Landscape Architect? Ask them these 7 questions first

1.    What are your thoughts on the project?

Hearing from the professional how they envision the project from start to finish can tell you a lot about their vision, how they approach their work, etc.

2.    What is the projected cost?

Talking costs is crucial at the beginning stages of any project. If you’re very budget-minded, you can always search for a professional that provides an hourly consultation fee. This way, you’re most likely to get an expert’s opinion on the overall design instead of the actual installation costs.

3.    Have you worked on any local projects?

As the temperature, climate and rainfall averages of South Africa's various towns, cities and provinces differ considerably, it's worth noting whether the Landscape Architect you are speaking to have experience in the sort of landscaping project you're planning.

4.    How long will this project take to complete?

Depending on the type of landscaping project you require, there will be quite a few steps that need to be taken before it’ll be complete. For the sake of both planning and your sanity, get an estimated project length from the professional.

5.    What must be done now and what can be left for later?

This will inform you what in your project must be prioritised right now and what can be left for later – vital information if you’re looking to save time and costs.

6.    How long will it take for everything to be fully grown?

If you’re looking to stay in your current home for the next few years, small and young plants won’t matter. But if this landscaping project is to help prepare your home for buyers, it’s best to ensure everything is mature from the start.

7.    Do you offer any maintenance plans and guarantees?

Tell the Landscape Architect if you require a maintenance plan and ask him/her to supply their fees and schedule in writing. Guarantees are also important, as you don’t want to be left with loose stones on your garden pathway and have no idea who to call for help, for instance.

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