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What is a Landscape Architect and What that Means to Your Project

What is a landscape architect? As the title implies, a landscape architect is a person who is trained in landscaping architecture. This field of expertise includes tasks like land planning, recreational planning site analysis, site inventory, sustainable design, planting design, storm water management, construction specification, and building code compliance. Because of the nature of their work, landscape architects need to be well-versed in a wide array of related fields, such as of ecology, geography, soil sciences, industrial design, fine arts, and of course, architecture. They specialize in designing public art, parks, plazas, gardens, green roofs, fountains, and other outdoor projects. In fact, due to the broad nature of their work, many people may be confused as to what landscape architects actually do. To separate the myths from the facts, here are a few things you need to know about landscape architects.

Landscape architects are designers, not builders. They primarily collaborate with clients, architects, and building contractors to get their part of the job done. Their projects are designed in a way that not only makes the property look good, but also feel good to be in.

The landscape photos presented to the public are much more than pretty pictures. They are carefully thought-out plans that make the property suitable for relaxation, recreation, and socialization. The ultimate goal of landscape architecture is to come up with a design that brings out the best of the property in terms of both looks and functionality.

Another common mistake is to confuse landscape architects with gardeners. As mentioned before, landscape architects are designers31. Their job does not include the construction and maintenance of landscapes. They do not prune, transplant or mulch for the project. Most of their time is spent on the drawing table and in front of the computer, designing and managing ongoing projects. If they have any more time leftover, chances are that they’re spending it in client and contractor meetings.

Landscape architects are trained to view the landscape as a system. They do not go into much of the details, but instead, they work on the big picture. The natural flow of water through the property, the amount of natural light that the trees and other fixtures allow in, and the effects of the local climate and watershed are factors that the landscape architect needs to consider.

Lastly, landscape architects are experts in sustainable practices. In fact, the American Society of Landscape Architects often uses the phrase “green since 1899” to emphasize the fact that its members have long practiced environmentally friendly work. Many of the profession’s best practices are centered on ecologically sound principles that account for climate effects, existing material use, storm water management, and vegetation use.

Considering all of the aforementioned, the question that naturally follows is, “should I hire a landscape architect for my project?” Well, if you want to bring out the best in your property, we highly recommend that you do. However, do note that some landscape architects may focus on a particular type of property, such as urban estates, small garden lots or vast rural estates. Therefore, you may want to approach several of them before you decide on one that best fits your needs. Don’t settle for second best. Hire a landscape architect.


A Touch of Renaissance

A Touch of Renaissance

Building an Italian Parterre Garden in Your Home

Italy has been such a dominant force in several fields of design that it’s really no surprise that its influence is also apparent in professionally designed gardens and landscapes. During the renaissance, Italy’s gardens were famed for their elegant designs, masterful attention to detail, and unique use of hardscape elements like statues, grottos, and water features. In recent years however, the interest in classic Italian garden designs has been rekindled.

Today’s landscaping experts look to the unique charm of Italian gardens for some of their more traditional design elements. For example, these gardens often make use of restricted plantings, controlled shapes, and a very strong axis. They are often built on a flat surface and make use of symmetrical plant beds, which are connected and separated by gravel paths.

Renaissance style gardens often feature a theme regarding humanity’s control over nature. Because of this, Italian gardens traditionally have solid-looking structures and use symmetrical layouts and paths. While some grandiose designs may not be applicable in small residential gardens, the same symmetrical effect can also be achieved through other means like building a straight stone pathway bordered by various shrubbery.

Another way that the theme of control is emphasized by skilled landscapers is by incorporating clear-cut and discernable shapes into the design. To achieve this look, you don’t need to go over the top. Simple shapes like rectangles and squares will already give the holder the impression of a controlled and organized landscape. Moreover, this concept is not limited to the shaping bushes and other greenery, it is also applicable to the overall design of the garden, including its divisions, furniture, and hardscape elements.

Similar to gardens in other Mediterranean countries, Italian gardens generally have specific areas designed to shield you from the harsh midday sun. There are several ways to achieve this. While one of the most popular methods is by building a pergola or arbor to encourage the growth of beautiful and fragrant vines, you can also plant hard pruned and large leaf trees like the common lime. Aside from being able to provide the perfect amount of shade, these trees are also easy to shape and grow.

Lastly, to complete your Italian garden, you’ll also want to install water features to provide an element of sound and movement. Rills and spouts made of steel, which direct a steady stream of water onto a bed of pebbles will be sufficient for most home landscapes. Although most gardens won’t be able to accommodate the large grottos and fountains that were prominent in the Renaissance, just having a simple water feature should be enough to preserve the central theme.