You may be confused by the many companies and individuals listed under the general heading or an internet search for landscaping. Not surprisingly, they are not all Professionals. There are different skill sets for architects, designers and contractors. In this post I hope to offer some understanding of the differences between them and help you to hire an appropriate company or individual for your project. One note of caution, currently Colorado does not license or regulate the title “Landscape Architect or Landscape Designer” so anyone can use these titles to describe their abilities, regardless of their education and work experience or if they are Professionals.
I will outline the skills involved in each of these areas as well as their education and what situations they are most suited for. Of course, there is always some overlap within all aspects of professional life, but this will get you started.
Landscape Architect: Most likely with a Master’s degree from an accredited university, a member of a large firm that does large-scale public works projects, parks, airport design, regional transportation designs etc. Capable of guiding public meetings and creating numerous concept and design drawings. Also able to produce residential design and planting plans as well. They are more often hired by municipalities and developers for their abilities to promote and sell the concepts to the public or investors.
Landscape Designer: Hopefully holds either a Bachelors of Arts or Science in Landscape Architecture from an accredited university. They may also hold horticultural degrees from colleges or vocational schools, but it is important for them to have some formal schooling. They are capable of producing detailed drawings, to scale, showing all aspects of the proposed work, along with recommended plants and hardscape materials. They will be more informed about what plants do well and the climate demands of the specific location. They may not want to install the project, but want to sell you the design and let you find someone to do the rest.
Landscape Contractor: The owner will often have some schooling in landscape or horticultural programs and has learned lots by working in the industry for several years, figuring out things as needed but many of these contractors may or may not have design experience beyond what they have seen others do. Many landscape companies do lots of different types of work, sprinkler installation and repair, tree care, aerating and fertilizing , lawn mowing and weeding etc. Other companies will specialize by installing landscape features such as retaining walls, water gardens, flagstone patios, outdoor kitchens along with lawn and planting areas.
If you have read this far, you probably are interested in finding out about me, David Hart owner at Gardenhart Landscape & Design, working out of Durango Colorado, in the southwest corner of the state. To be clear with regards to the above post, I consider myself a “Landscape Designer”. At Gardenhart Landscaping & Design we are Professionals.
I graduated from Utah State University with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture in 1983 and have lived in the Durango area ever since. Gardenhart Landscape & Design is a design-build firm, providing comprehensive oversight from start to finish. We incorporate a natural, native look into all of our projects, using best practices in the industry. These include native plants and stone, low water and fire resistant design principles and a deep understanding of the local soils and climate. I like to think of myself as bringing the art into your landscaping in every project.