Landscape Design Jobs

It’s hard to know what to do with your outdoor space. You want it to be functional, sustainable, and good looking.

You may know you want to put in a walkway or plant some trees, but what’s the best way to do it? Designing the outdoors is challenging and many people use a landscape designer to get the job done.

Landscape designers design exterior spaces. Typically they work on small residential projects for individual clients. There are no requirements or formal education necessary to be a landscape designer, just an eye for design and love for landscaping and horticulture. Landscape design is a happy mix of garden design and landscape architecture.

Clients contact landscape designers when they need something done to their yards. After considering the project’s intent and the lay of the land, landscape designers develop a design. They advise and consult with clients about boulder placement, plant choices, retaining walls, and even get into finer details like brick or sandstone walkways. Often the designs are completed using software, but elaborate drawings work just as well.

During the design process, the landscape designer considers many important design factors. Sustainability, functionality, and aesthetics are at the top of the list. Natural factors like climate, topography, drainage, soils, and orientation come into play. A good landscape designer will ensure the project complies with building codes. They will also design with the intent to complement nature and use focal points to bring the project together. They may work with gardens, trees, lawns, patios, rocks, terrain, natural areas, or fences. Landscape design incorporates the entire outdoor setting.

If the client doesn’t approve the design, the landscape designer goes back to the drawing boards. Once the client is happy, the landscape designer will either recommend a landscape contractor to oversee the project or may even oversee the project himself. Either way, the project begins. Good design is a great investment because it ultimately adds value to any real estate project.

Experience is the key to success in this field. After designing hundreds of patios, any landscape designer will be a patio expert. Most landscape designers are highly qualified at one niche – installing driveways, laying out walkways, planning drainage solutions, or selecting plants. Some landscape designers might be excellent at one skill, but sub par at another. It’s important to get references on any landscape designer that you might hire. It’s easy to mow grass one season and the next season, choose to work as a self-taught landscape designer. Without the experience, buyer beware.

Since just about anybody can print business cards that say they are a landscape designer, it’s a good idea to become certified. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) is the best certification because it is the only certification. The APLD requires landscape designers to have four years of experience before they can submit a portfolio that include drawings, plant lists, design intent, and photos. If approved they become a Professional Member. This certification shows commitment and standards to the industry. Plus it’s a good way to make bigger paychecks.

To excel as a landscape designer, earn a degree in horticulture, botany, floriculture, landscaping or design. Then gain experience in the field working on a landscaping crew. Apprenticeships are common and are a wonderful way to learn. It’s important to get down in the dirt and develop an eye for what works and why. Develop a niche or learn the entire trade. If you love what you do, build a portfolio, and earn the APLD certification.

Landscape design is enjoyable outdoor work that has tangible results after every project. It is a great way to establish a career as a landscape professional. After you gain basic landscaping experience, let your creative juices start to flow as a landscape designer.

Salary Range

A professional landscape designer makes $44,000 to $82,000 per year. Most average a salary of $54,000 per year. Pay will depend on experience, niche, projects, and reputation.

Quick Facts

Job Title: Landscape Designer
Description: Designs outdoor areas
Employers: Landscaping Companies, Self-Employed

Association of Professional Landscape Designers

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