What is the difference between Landscape Architecture and Landscape Design?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION What is the difference between Landscape Architecture and Landscape Design?

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    Ryan Sand

    I would be interested to see if everyone put what field they studied underneath their entry, maybe there is a correlation between response and field they are in

    Landscape Architecture

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    These are both very diverse fields with a hell of a lot more overlap than exclusivity. The question may be better phrased as “where are the differences between landscape architecture and landscape design?”.

    Anytime this subject is brought up it pits people against each other and brings out total stereotypes in both directions.

    I was a landscape designer long before I got my degree or licensing. No one sucked out any of my previous abilities when I went to school or got my stamp. Neither do people without degrees or licenses gain some magical skills through years of experience that those who got degrees or licenses are not able to gain through their years of experience. There are really ignorant notions that come out through the stereotype statements in these discussions.

    Pat S. Rosend

    Boy I would disagree with this. They may have a strong knowledge of planting and micro drainage but not large scale at all. They have limited exposure to site grading and the other engineering elements that LA’s are exposed too and really I consider them a subset of LA practice.

    Pat S. Rosend

    Well I don’t think they should be exluded form residential design, but I wouldn’t hire one to do a wetlands mitigation plan and design. I also would not hire an RN to do my open heart surgery.

    Gabino Carballo

    I consider myself both. Aside from the legal aspects, there is very little difference between LA’s as opposed to LD’s. It is mostly down to labeling derived from training. There is very little about LA that you cannot pick up from a book or two, so LA’s tend to be quite touchy about this, since we do not hold any specific knowledge that may give us the professional edge that many aspire to.

    Ironically, the one thing you cannot get from books is horticultural experience and, as a result I presume, it is generally derided and treated as some form of inferior knowledge by LA’s, simply because it is so hard to get.

    We tend to obtain next to none and we hate the confidence given by heuristics to people that spend their lives with their hands dirty and working the core matter of out job: the land. Olmsted was a farmer for a while and look at the trick he pulled with next to no qualifications (he would be considered a Landscape Designer nowadays and ridiculed at every turn I suspect).

    Both LA’s and LD’s tend to be narrow minded snobs, unable to agree on simple fundamental issues, incapable of developing the critical skills that would allow us to take on the big guys, such as engineers and architects. Thus, we spend our time moaning and pathetically tripping each other up rather than finding common ground and building something from there.

    One thing is true for both LA’s and LD’s, we both earn way less than anybody else in the Construction Industry. I generally recommend training as an architect, and engineer, an accountant, or whatever is profitable and forces you to stretch your limits, and do Landscape Architecture as a hobby on the side.

    That way you can build a good intellect, a reasonable fortune to bankroll you through the thin times and a good client base!



    I pretty much agree with on everything but the last part. Generally speaking, we are on the low end compensation wise compared to other design professionals. But, there are several LAs that are making a good living, especially here on the East Coast (USA). Besides I am more than willing to make less money doing something that I love. Architects don’t always make the big bucks, Engineers usually aren’t the most fun guys at a party and Accountants ……you’re joking aren’t you? No disrespect to the CPAs out there, but I would hate life if I were one. I’d rather put up will all the crap it takes to be an LA.

    LA firms have a much better cool people to a**hole ratio than engineering and accounting firms.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    I think that insecurity is not something you suffer from, Gabimo. It is a disease that can get in the way of a lot of things. It tends to make us isolate ourselves instead of interact and join a bigger community where we can be multi-dimensional along with others. It makes us make decisions based on wishful thinking rather than practicality.

    Lee Attinger

    The difference between a landscape architect and a landscape designer is the landscaper was busy making money for the last 5 years in a good economy while the rest of us sat in a classroom getting a worthless degree.

    Rick Spalenka

    Hallaluyah. If you hadn’t read my other posts I wrote the same in a more subtle way. Craig remarked about Accountants. My wife is an Accountant and she’s paying the bills right now so I can continue my “hobby.”

    Many many years ago I met a “landscaper” at an ALCA annual expo in Atlanta. We didn’t know each other but, coincedentially, went to the same high school in West Virginia. I graduated and went on to college and got a Landscape Arch degree. He dropped out of HS and started a landscape company. He invited me to visit his company. While there I observed two, that’s two MLAs being interviewed for hire. The HS drop outs DO hire the college graduates. One of his projects? Landscaping Orlando International Airport.

    Rick Spalenka

    My Hallaluyah pertained to Gabinos postings about LA’s tending to be snobs. So true it’s disgusting. If you hadn’t noticed, we wear turtle necks with sport jackets a lot.

    Louise Leff

    Excellent. Well said.
    And I’d mention that often one group has bad things to say abut the other. – Usually depending on their own self esteem.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA


    Of the people who I know who have degrees in landscape architecture (who have been out of school for many years), more are design/build landscape contractors who never went after the licensing (most because they went into or already were into a business of their own). That opportunity is not denied to you just because you got your degree.

    Landscape architecture has not changed. It always has its ups and downs with how busy the economy is. It grows with growth and shrinks with recession. …. and so it goes for landscape designers and contractors as well except that the latter can get in bigger trouble because they carry a much bigger overhead.

    emad kassem

    I think the main difference is the ability of any of them to use his skills and knowledge and talent to perform work required implementation

    al fathi

    landscape design is just a part of landscape architecture. go figure

    lance millward

    Absolutely agree with the snob aspects of landscape architects over landscape designers. I’m a landscape architect and have found many believe the license to practice demands others respect their status as ‘experts’. In my current work in tender administration and evaluation as well as contract pricing I come across plenty of poorly detailed, poorly conceived and generally flawed plans, specifications and construction details. When the designer is also the builder you find these details are taken more seriously as it affects their bottom line. I have nothing but respect for landscape designers, despite not being one of them.

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