LA problems…..

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    Patrick Simon

    Hi everybody,

    My name is Patrick Simon and I am an aspiring software entrepreneur working with a start-up incubator called The Foundation.

    I am currently doing research on the Landscape Architecture industry, trying to discover the biggest pains and frustrations that LAs deal with on a daily basis.

    I don’t have anything to sell you guys. I just want to start a conversation about what works in the industry, what doesn’t and what we can do to make everyone’s life a little better. 

    So far I have spoken with several LAs and heard a couple common topics come up. I would love to get more feedback on them here:

    1. Public perception. What Landscape Architects actually do vs what the public thinks they do. How can we reconcile the two?

    2. Scheduling. Best practices/existing tools for keeping track of what needs to be done, when, and by whom (including sub-contractors).

    3. Getting paid. Frequently LAs are the last contractor on the list of payees. Whats the best way to make sure your invoice gets taken care of on time?

    This is just a partial list. Please feel free to add to it.

    The next time you start to procrastinate doing some tedious work, let us know on here.

    The next time a simple task takes WAAAAY too long, let us know on here.

    The next time the job starts to drive you crazy, let us know on here.

    Thanks in advance,

    Patrick Simon


    I am an urban planner (with a BUP) who does master planning/subdivision design (really an LA specialization) in an engineering firm.  

    1. Spend more time educating the value of landscape architecture to the everyday general public.  Too much time and effort is focused on ad campaigns either targeted among LAs or even people in related industries.   This may take years, but technology and the internet, will shake off a considerable amount.  Think how many decades, if not longer, it took for the architecture profession to emerge from engineering in the 18th-20th centuries.  

    2. A spreadsheet or database can’t do everything. Manage personalities and expectations, including soft skill/interpersonal development.  This includes sub-contractors, other firms where YOU are the subcontractor, vendors, etc.  

    3. Repeated calls without appearing demanding/threatening.  Your willingness to tolerate late invoices is a factor of your business.  Do you have the ability to fiscally operate with unpredictable payments?  Is the lack of payment impacting your bottom line?  What are repercussions of severing your ties, if any, with that client?   

    Last but not least, landscape architecture is a newer profession, compared to engineers and architects.  LAs are the third, sometimes fourth, new kid on the block so to speak (and planning is probably fifth or six).  Someone has already claimed the turf and built a fort.  So you are going to have to play by the rules.  I “guess” you can work for strongly-worded language in a title and practice act for licensure in your state, but that is a long shot.  

    Robert Anderson

    I assume by your profession and opening statement you aren’t looking for ideas on how we as landscape architects get out the message or how we educate people rather you are looking for ideas on applications or apps for mobile devices. Please clarify.

    Patrick Simon

    My goal with this thread is understanding the industry better. I don’t have an agenda beyond that.

    I want to hear about all the frustrations and pains. Together we can find solutions for them.


    When I actually get to practice landscape architecture, it’s pretty easy. That said, I need a new tool – right now I’m thinking that a 40,000V cattle prod might do the trick – that magically encourages small-town surveyors who evidently face no competition to use those handy little thingies in AutoCAD called “layers,” while at the same time does not allow them to explode hatch patterns, text, blocks, and pretty much everything else under the sun before they randomly draw and label in both model space and paper space with no apparent rhyme or reason… and at the same time need 14M (count ’em!) worth of memory on a fairly simple 1/4-acre site. This has to be a new record.

    Tosh K

    1. LAs need to be more insistent on being recognized by clients especially in the public sector for the work they do.  They also need to understand that marketing is valuable to the firm as well as the profession and should be amply budgeted.

    2. There are plenty of scheduling software packages out there.  Meeting minutes is a good measure to keep track of what was discussed to be done vs what is being done.

    3. Being insistent/persistent without being rude.  When necessary to seek legal claims – it’s not good to get a reputation for being lax on billing.  Being responsive and on time with deliverables also helps.

    Tosh K

    It is always odd that there are so many licensed surveyors that too poor a job at providing good surveys. That being said, a good surveyor is critical in minimizing cost overruns on a project – we worked with one in VA that located any oddities and followed up via deeds, etc (above and beyond the contractual obligation).  The surveyor saved our clients a lot of head aches by finding old cemeteries, abandoned utilities, rock ledges, etc.

    Overall lack of understanding between professions is a general concern.

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