Career Profile: A Closer Look at a...

Career Profile: A Closer Look at a Career as a Landscape Designer or Architect

by Rochelle C. Pangilinan
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

When it comes to the launch of residential or commercial spaces, most of us think of architects or builders or engineers. Often, landscape architects or designers are an afterthought or wholly ignored.

However, think of the most profitable hotels or malls or the homes that you admire in your neighbourhood, and you would realize they share something in common. They have landscape design that draws your attention, and as a result, the aesthetics of those structures stand out even more. Just imagine for a moment a building that always entices you to take a picture whenever you pass by it. Now imagine that structure is surrounded by dead trees and weeds and pergolas that are falling apart. Are you still inspired to still take a photo of it? Of course not.

It is for this reason that landscape design should not be underestimated. In commercial spaces, they help establish the brand and ensure they complement the brand’s aesthetics. In residential spaces, they contribute to the overall pleasantness of the homeowner’s abode. If you are looking into a career as a landscape designer or architect, here is a closer look to further enlighten you:

Landscape designer vs. Landscape architect

It is important to differentiate between a landscape designer and a landscape architect, although there is a common misconception that these two are one and the same. However, architects, as the name suggest, bear a lot more responsibilities than designers as they have to deal with drainage systems, slopes management, and elevation issues. They also have to earn their license to be able to practice legally and claim to be landscape architects. On the other hand, landscape designers do not require a license to operate, and they are typically focused on aesthetics, working with the foliage, etc.


The best way to get your foot in the door if you want to be a landscape architect is to acquire education from an institution accredited by the CSLA or the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. These schools are all throughout Canada, including University of British Columbia, University of Guelph, University of Manitoba, and the University of Toronto. You can find out more information on their website at https://www.asla.org . Aspiring landscape designer, meanwhile, can look into certificate programs offered by institutions like Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education.

Skills and Qualifications

To have a career in landscaping, you need to be creative and practical at the same time as they would always be expected to have designs that are not only pleasing to the eyes, but also functional. It helps to have horticultural knowledge too as there are certain plants or flowers that do not grow well in certain areas. A career in landscaping also requires one to be IT savvy as there are numerous software programs available now to help them see their vision in digital form. Of course, this is not to say that the ability to design on pen and paper has gone out the window. Of course they would need to know the principles and elements of design on paper first if they want to maximize the use of applications. Meanwhile, while they can always hire soil scientists and arborists, it would be an advantage for landscape designers or architects to have basic knowledge of soil sampling and tree maintenance.

Team or Independent

Landscape designers and architects can work either as a part of a team, which means they would have landscape workers under them, or independently, which means they do the work themselves or at least hire contractors per project basis. Working independently is common for those who do landscaping for homes, but most of them work with a big team when it comes to big projects such as doing landscape for schools and other institutions.

Design or Maintenance

Landscaping is not just creating designs as it often involves the following tasks – sod laying, grass mowing, bush and hedge trimming, planting, watering, fertilizing, digging, raking, sprinkler installation, and installation of decorative elements such as fountains, pergolas, etc. At times, they are also expected to do the maintenance, which is ideal since this way, they establish a long-term relationship with their client. Design along with maintenance tasks are often stated in the service level agreements with the property owners when contracts are first signed. Here, they agree on mutually beneficial terms, such as once-a-month mowing for a fixed price for two years.

One-off Project or Portfolio

Landscape professionals who work with homeowners can expect one-off projects, but it is always possible for them to be called upon when the homeowners feel a need to have a renovation or upgrade. On the other hand, commercial property owners often have more than one property, and as part of maintaining their brand, it is expected that the landscape are consistent and carry a unified design. As such, most landscape designers can expect to design and maintain a portfolio of spaces.

A career in landscaping is exciting and can be a sustainable if you have the skills and qualifications for it. Read more about it or ask an expert in your area, and who knows, you might have just found your calling.









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