Is there a difference between a registered landscape architect and a landscape designer?
We think so. Although there is overlap between disciplines, a registered landscape architect has more formal training and a broader range of capabilities than a garden or landscape designer. The landscape architect’s design process is comprehensive and brings a high level of depth and detail to the work.
Because Surrounds is design build we are involved in the entire landscaping process. This is a benefit to the client. We understand the plant and hardscape materials being installed and why they were chosen. We are aware of potential construction issues during the drawing phase. Chad Talton, Registered Landscape Architect
Garden Designers typically come from a horticultural discipline. The focus is on combining planting arrangements and collections of plant varieties to bring desired characteristics to a garden.
Landscape Designers design and install hardscape features (patios, retaining walls, walkways and paths) and constructions (fences, gates, arbors) in addition to plantings.
Garden and Landscape Designers are not required to be licensed, nor are they regulated, by the State of Virginia.
Registered Landscape Architects must have a college degree in landscape architecture and pass a state licensing exam in order to practice in Virginia. These credentials translate into services that include:
- Site analysis & engineering
- Ability to identify and resolve complex grading and drainage issues
- Conceptual designs & construction drawings
- Design documentation for outdoor structures and hardscape features
- Expertise in construction methods and materials
- Understanding of plant materials in the context of local ecosystems
This knowledge base equips landscape architects to work on projects that involve multiple layers of detail and complexity.
As architects we are always looking at things in multiple dimensions. We can improve grading, modify elevations—make a house look better by mirroring the architectural style. Chad Talton, RLA
Does More Training Mean Better Landscape Design?
A college degree or professional license can’t make dull work compelling. Technical expertise combined with a great eye for composition and artful problem solving ability–that makes great design. The ability to use the tools of design to interpret and transform a landscape is what makes a great designer.
What Type of Project Is Best Suited for a Landscape Architect?
You are always better off working with a landscape architect even on a modest sized project. And you would be wise to hire a landscape architect to design if you are planning….
- To build a custom designed swimming pool environment with spa and pool house.
- To create an outdoor environment that incorporates multiple features such as outdoor dining, fireplace or grill station.
- To develop a site analysis and master landscaping plan for a newly constructed home (to evaluate elevations, drainage, soil composition, and existing vegetation).
Landscape Architecture: How It Looks Is How It Works
The landscape architect designs places. All the technical underlayment –the materials, construction methods and engineering- support the concept. By making improvements or changes we are able to get a site to function at a very high level through design.
I remember design theory assignments in school that pushed my limits. They made me think at a much higher level. Dealing with form and composition forces you to account for what you are doing. Howard Cohen, RLA
So when you approach a garden, we think two things should happen. First, because we’ve defined an entry point, it invites you into the space. Second, because we’ve framed a view, it should affect you and make you want to stay.
Solid Credentials & Great Design Instincts
Good landscape design isn’t simply what you see. It’s what the design does and how it effects you.
A talented designer doesn’t need a degree or a license or certification to do great work. But, if you were to hire a professional with top notch credentials plus great design instincts for your landscaping project… you’d be off to a great start, wouldn’t you?