The Truth Behind the Landscape: Busting Myths About Landscape Architects

April 6, 2023

When you hear “landscape architect” what do you think?

Someone who spends their days outside planting trees and moving rocks? A master gardener?

Or do you think of a licensed individual who designs outdoor spaces with a focus on both function and beauty. Someone who is trained to consider a variety of elements including topography, vegetation, and stormwater networks, along with pathways, seating, and lighting.

If you thought of the latter, you’re right!

In this article, we’re going to bust some myths surrounding Landscape Architects.

JPR’s landscape architect reviews a Planting Plan during a progress inspection of the new City Hall in Mishawaka, Indiana.

MYTH 1: Landscape architects are just glorified gardeners.

While landscape architects do work with plants, they also have extensive education and training in the principles of design – along with engineering, ecology, and urban planning. They are experts in creating outdoor spaces that are safe, sustainable, accessible, and have a positive environmental impact.

MYTH 2: Landscape architecture is not a real profession.

We can assure you that it is! In fact, it’s a highly specialized field that requires substantial knowledge and skill. Landscape architecture is a recognized profession with its own set of standards, licensure requirements, and professional organizations.

MYTH 3: Landscape architects build and maintain landscapes.

Landscape architects design and inspect the projects, but do not install or maintain them – that is typically done through a landscape contractor. In reality, landscape architects spend most of their time at their computers or in front of paper designing plans and details, on site visits, in client meetings, or collaborating with other professionals. That being said, there are many landscape architects located within the residential design/build field who may aid or oversee the construction and maintenance of residential or commercial landscapes.

The Winona Lake Limitless Park (Indiana) was thoughtfully designed to be fun, inclusive, and provide opportunities to assist in the development of cognitive and gross motor skills.

MYTH 4: Landscape architects ONLY focus on aesthetics.

Aesthetics is important. But so are several other components such as the ecological, social, and economic impacts of the project. Landscape architects work to develop spaces that are sustainable, functional, and meet the needs of the people who use them.

MYTH 5: Landscape architects only work on large, complex projects.

Yes, landscape architects work on large-scale projects such as community parks and streetscapes. However, they also work on smaller-scale projects including urban plazas and nature trails. They work on a wide range of projects that vary in size, scope, and complexity.

MYTH 6: Landscape architects are too expensive.

While it’s true that these services can be expensive, landscape architects work with clients that have a wide range of budgets. No matter the project, they strive to create a design that is both beautiful and affordable. In fact, working with a landscape architect can often save clients’ money in the long run by creating more efficient and sustainable designs from the start.

Every detail of the James Cultural Plaza was strategically designed to echo the rich automobile history of Auburn, Indiana.

Now that we’ve dispelled some of the myths, let’s talk about who a landscape architect really is…

Landscape architects are creative and technical.

Creativity is a must. Landscape architects must have the ability to envision new and unique designs that meet the needs of their clients. They have a strong understanding of drafting, grading, and surveying – and can analyze the site and its surroundings to determine the best design options.

They’re experts in sustainability.

Landscape architects must be knowledgeable about environmental issues and how they impact outdoor spaces. Driven by eco-friendly principles for vegetation and stormwater, they design spaces that are sustainable and minimize impact on the environment.

Landscape architects are detail oriented and have exceptional time management skills.

For landscape architects, the adage “the design is in the details” couldn’t be more accurate. Every small detail demands their utmost attention to ensure seamless integration and functionality of all elements. Effective time management is also crucial to guarantee timely and cost-effective completion of projects.

They look at the big picture.

Landscape architects think about the landscape as a system – the flow of water, circulation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, interaction of light and climate. They must be able to see a space and envision the future. How can it be programmed? What will it look like in 15 years? How will it impact the environment?  It all comes into play when designing a site.  

The JPR team on a site visit preparing for a possible project.

JPR’s Landscape Architecture team meets – and exceeds – the characteristics above. They are creative, technical, environmentally aware individuals who are dedicated to crafting innovative solutions for every client.

Do you have big plans, but aren’t sure where to start? Not sure if your project needs the experienced touch of a landscape architect? Reach out!

We’d love to have a conversation with you.

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