Why Hire a Landscape Architect?
Landscape architecture is the art of creating visually interesting and meaningful designs that provide for the client’s health, safety and wellbeing, while being responsible and integral with natural processes of the surrounding environment. In any profession, there are various levels of vision, experience, creativity, training and practicality. The adage “you get what you pay for” applies to most design professions and the field of landscape architecture is no exception. There is hard-earned money at stake in any size project, and good advice and design skills will pay for itself many times over and conversely, choosing the less experienced or less expensive option when selecting a landscape architect, or not having one at all, may not turn out to be a wise decision when you don’t get the vison and performance that meets or exceeds your expectations. Beyond that, the intangible aspects of great design are the feelings that are evoked from experiencing well designed spaces and systems, and while these qualities are sometimes unexplainable, they are clearly noticeable.
A landscape architect is a state-licensed design professional with a degree in landscape architecture and has passed a national exam with state-specific sections. Landscape architects use their technical and artistic talents to plan and design the built environment. We create conceptual designs through sketches and renderings and then create construction document, and specifications that dictate the allocation, arrangement, and construction methods of land elements and water resources. Practicing landscape architecture or using the title “landscape architect” without having a state license is a violation of the Landscape Architects Practice Act. Landscape architects are required to have professional liability as well as errors and omissions insurance. In addition, they are usually more experienced and most qualified for general site design and the design of hardscape features such as entry features, swimming pools, drives, arbors, fountains, walls, and other site elements. Landscape architects act as a third-party between the contractor and the owner. Landscape architects are especially valuable for larger projects that require permitting through city, county or state planning or building departments. Without any financial ties to the contractor, a landscape architect will dictate and support the quality of work that is in the owner’s best interest.
All commercial projects in the State of Florida require a landscape architect for planting design. Residential projects may be design by someone other than a landscape architect. Landscape designers, on the other hand, are not licensed or regulated by the state and are limited to making plans or drawings for the selection, placement, or use of plants when the execution of such plans or drawings does not affect the public health, safety, and welfare. As such, they are not required to obtain educational and/or training of any kind. Landscape designers, garden consultants and master gardeners can advise you in their areas of expertise, but may not have experience in construction oversight, local regulations, site engineering and building techniques, as landscape architects do. Some landscape designers are very well versed in plant materials and are very capable planting designers. If a designer is tied to a construction company, it may be difficult to obtain competitive bid prices for the work to be done. As a result, the owner has no basis for comparison. Construction documents prepared by a designer may also be less thorough than those prepared by a landscape architect. This could result in some “in the field” decisions that may not be in the owner’s best financial interest.