Even though a landscape architect and a landscape designer can branch out into one another’s disciplines and achieve high-quality results (it does depend on the individual), there are clear differences between the two professions (just as there are differences between an architect and a draftsperson) and why you would engage either one’s services.
What is a landscape architect?
Just like an architect, a landscape architect undergoes substantial training and education, in which they learn a great range of skills and disciplines related to urban and landscape design. This can include construction design, drawing, ecological studies, environmental studies, land management, design, heritage studies, cultural studies etc. In other words, studying landscape architecture provides students with a diversity of skills and outlooks, which they can bring to either small or large-scale jobs.
A landscape architect may work for a government body to design public spaces, or for corporate bodies to design outside spaces in a corporate area. But they can also be used by private clients to design a home’s landscaping.
When do you know whether you need a landscape architect or a landscape designer?
Landscape designers typically work on smaller projects than landscape architects. For this reason, if your garden designs are simple, whether for an existing garden or a new build, then a landscape designer can bring their expertise of plant species, climate, and ecological concerns to the design of your garden, for instance when creating a native garden.
A landscape designer often comes with a background in horticulture and so can be unparalleled in their knowledge of the local environment and local plant species. A landscape architect may not have the requisite experience and knowledge of plant types to be able to effectively visualize how a garden will look in five or ten years, once various plants and trees have grown to maturity.
While a landscape designer will be able to design the geometry of a garden, a landscape architect is best used when trying to deal with steep slopes, designing significant outdoor structures (especially those that have a novel design), major retaining walls, finding solutions to elevation problems, and finding answers to issues such as accessibility and services.