Landscape architects plan and design properties for private residences and other facilities such as parks, recreational facilities, highways and airports.
Every state requires landscape architects to be licensed. Requirements vary among states, but usually include a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited school, work experience, and a passing score on the Landscape Architect Registration Exam. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that employment of landscape architects will grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Planning and development of new construction and redevelopment of existing buildings will drive this employment growth.
Landscape architects typically do the following:
- Confer with clients, engineers, and building architects to understand a project
- Prepare site plans, specifications, and cost estimates
- Coordinate the arrangement of existing and proposed land features and structures
- Prepare graphic representations and drawings of proposed plans and designs
- Analyze environmental reports and data on land conditions, such as drainage
- Inspect landscape work to ensure that it adheres to original plans
- Approve the quality of work that others do
Many landscape architects specialize in a particular area, such as private homes, beautifying or otherwise improving streets and highways, waterfronts, parks and playgrounds, or museums. In this capacity, landscape architects plan the locations of buildings, roads, and walkways. They also plan where to plant flowers, shrubs, and trees.
They also design and plan the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans, such as wetlands, stream corridors, and mined areas and increasingly work in environmental remediation. They are also playing a role in preserving and restoring historic landscapes. In addition, they prepare environmental impact statements and studies on environmental issues, such as planning for use of public lands.
Landscape architects who work for government agencies do design sites and landscapes for government buildings, parks, and other public lands, as well as plan for landscapes and recreation areas in national parks and forests.
In general, landscape architects improve our world through projects ranging from the large-scale sustainable master plans and housing communities to small-scale green streets, parking lots, and private yards. They work with city planners, architects, engineers, horticulturalists, and others in interdisciplinary teams to create innovative models that outline a path to sustainable future practice.
Because people enjoy attractively designed gardens, public parks, playgrounds, residential areas, college campuses, and golf courses, landscape architects design these areas so that they are not only functional but also beautiful and harmonious with the natural environment.
It is important work. Research has shown that exposure to natural environments enhances the ability to cope with and recover from stress, illness, and injury, and provides a host of social, psychological, and physiological benefits to humans. While almost any garden provides a connection with natural elements, a garden design created on evidence-based principles — led by an informed designer and properly implemented — can reduce stress and improve health.