What to Expect as a Landscape Architect

The work of landscape architects involves managing and designing open spaces including built and natural environments and creating landscapes and landscape plans. They work on designing creative, visually appealing environments that everyone love. They also ensure that everything they create is sustainable, appropriate and considerate.

They work with other professionals to create various landscape architectural projects in rural and urban areas. They work on motorways, housing estates, parks, gardens, sporting sites, city centers etc.

What to Expect as a Landscape Architect

Landscape architects work across the five major areas of:

  • Urban design
  • Landscape planning
  • Landscape management
  • Landscape science
  • Landscape design

Responsibilities of a Landscape Architect

Landscape architects have the following responsibilities:

  • Present proposals and respond to all enquiries and modify designs as needed.
  • Coordinate suppliers and manufacturers.
  • Create landscape requirements with clients.
  • Assess environmental impacts of projects.
  • Supervise the design of various landscape architectural projects like road schemes, retail schemes, pedestrian schemes, urban regeneration schemes and the maintenance of the character sites with natural beauty.
  • Create landscape requirements with clients.
  • Visit sites
  • Ensure deadlines are adhered to
  • Create new business opportunities
  • Supervise and monitor work on sites (this work might be done by landscape managers for big projects)
  • Authorize payments on successful completion of projects  
  • Match the wishes of clients with the knowledge of what will function best
  • Conduct preliminary studies of sites and check out details like ecology, contours, heritage, buildings, roads and soil.
  • Seek the opinion of parties, potential users and residents associated with a project. Take into account their opinions.
  • Satisfy clients’ desires while taking into consideration the best thing to do.
  • Work with other professionals on various landscape architectural projects.
  • Attend public enquiries if necessary
  • Select contractors and managers for large projects, put work out to tender and lead cross-functional teams.
  • Prepare and present accurate and well-detailed working drawings and plans of the designs of new sites, containing construction details, applications and specifications using computer-aided design (CAD) packages and other landscape architectural software.
  • Examine the potential of a site to meet up with the specification of a client.

Working Hours for Landscape Architects

Working hours for landscape architects are not fixed. The normal standard is a 40-hour work week but sometimes, landscape architects work in the evening and on weekends. With tight deadlines, work hours become more irregular. Shifts are also rare.

What Landscape Architect Should Expect

There are lots of opportunities for landscape architects to work in the Middle East, Europe and other places overseas.

There are good opportunities for creative, talented, business savvy landscape architects with established clients and contacts to be self-employed. It is also good for them to have a lot of experience from an established environment before starting off on their own.

Most landscape architecture jobs are in private establishments. A few landscape architects work with local authorities.

Landscape architecture is a profession that has a good balance of men and women.

Landscape architects spend time between site visits and the office. Protective clothing might be needed for site visits. One might also need to work in varying weather conditions for site visits.

Qualifications for Landscape Architects

There are chartered landscape architects. To become a chartered landscape architect, you need to acquire a Masters level degree in an accredited course by the LI.

The following areas have courses:

  • Landscape planning
  • Landscape architecture
  • Landscape ecology and design
  • Landscape restoration and/or management
  • Garden design
  • Environmental conservation

Undergraduate degrees in landscape management last for 4 years with an option of taking a year out for paid work experience. Those that have undergraduate degrees that are not accredited by the LI can still become landscape architects by completing LI accredited postgraduate conversion courses. The postgraduate conversion courses last for 1 and a half years to 2 years full time but there are part time options available. Those applying for the postgraduate conversion courses do not need to study a related undergraduate course. They just need to have an interest in design and the environment.

The postgraduate and undergraduate courses lead to Licentiate membership of the LI which is a necessary step towards becoming chartered landscape architects. Landscape practices support graduates that undertake their path to partnership.

Skills Needed for Landscape Architect

To become a landscape architect, you need the following skills:

  • A practical outlook
  • Creative enthusiasm, imagination and ability
  • Good drawing and design skills including CAD
  • An eye for detail with an ability to observe things well 
  • Good negotiation and communication skills
  • An understanding of conservation skills and a love for the environment
  • Work Experience Needed for Landscape Architect

Relevant pre-entry experience is good as it shows that one is interested and committed to the landscape architecture profession.  Some of the courses have undergraduate placements. For the ones that do not have undergraduate placements, you can find part-time work or vacation.

Any work that involves creative skills and design especially in a landscape based area is useful. Volunteering projects in the environment are also useful.

Employers of landscape architects are:

  • Public bodies
  • Local authorities
  • The construction industry
  • Water companies
  • Private practices

In the private sector, landscape architects are employed by landscape architect companies and architects or by companies involved in landscape engineering.

In the public sector, landscape architects work for government agencies, local authorities and environmental agencies. They can also work for voluntary organizations.

Career Prospects for Landscape Architects

To progress in your career as a landscape architect, you need to take charge of projects, become a specialist in a certain area, manage a team and take on greater responsibilities. How fast you progress in your career depends on your level of ambition and how well you acquire more skills and knowledge.

Landscape architects with strong commercial awareness could become great consultants.

As you become experienced, you could become a partner in a private practice or you could set up your own business. To become successful in a private practice you must have good experience, skills, knowledge, communication skills and a large contact and client base.

Landscape architects can also lecture at tertiary institutions on a full time or part time basis.

Also read: Hiring a landscape architect for your new garden.