Do You Really Need A Landscape Architect?

When it comes to creating the outdoor living space you’ve always dreamed of, there are a few different options for making that dream a reality. Depending on your objectives, you might need a landscaper, a landscape professional, a landscape designer, a landscape architect, or if your goals are particularly ambitious, you’ll need everyone to make the perfect yard a reality. Understanding what you want from your yard can help you decide if you really need a landscape architect or if landscape maintenance is enough for you. 

Understanding your backyard dreams and goals

To decide who you’ll need to create your dream outdoor living space, it helps to start by understanding your yard goals. 

Perhaps you don’t care too much about your yard at home. If you spend most Spring & Summer weekends at the cottage, living your outdoor dreams with a beverage in hand, we can’t blame you. But maybe you’re building a 20-foot fence to hide the shameful patch of grass you call a yard. 

Perhaps you’ve got drainage issues, or a yard that’s so sloped you need a rope and harness to get across it. Or maybe you’ve finally bought that hot tub you’ve always wanted and are ready to create a backyard oasis complete with pergola, bar, and 65″ 4K television.

Depending on your goals, you’ll need a different type of landscape professional. We’ll break down some of those situations below.

A landscaper pruning a decorative plant

Why and when to use a landscaper

At Wright Landscape Services, we believe there is a big difference in what someone calls a “landscaper” and a “landscape professional.” Both are valuable contributors to this industry, but they play different parts and bring different things to the table. Generally, when we talk about “landscapers,” we are talking about someone with general skills and knowledge in maintaining a yard. 

If you’re one of the lucky homeowners with a well designed, trouble-free yard, perhaps yard maintenance is good enough for you. Cutting grass, trimming hedges, planting a few trees and updating a garden are all things that a landscaper can help do as part of a “grounds maintenance” routine. 

Regular lawn maintenance can help you identify potential trouble spots, get your yard ready after a harsh winter, and keep everything looking neat and tidy. Maintenance work is excellent for…well, maintaining a well-designed yard. 

Beyond simple maintenance, though, it’s often necessary to work with a landscape professional to help create a yard worth maintaining. 

Why and when to use a landscape professional

A landscape professional is someone with an education in horticulture and is certified by a governing body. At Wright, we employ landscape professionals to help define and create a yard or outdoor space worthy of maintaining. A landscape professional uses their specific education and knowledge to make recommendations on how to resurrect a dead garden, deal with lawn pests, select the correct plants for your yard, and create something more than a neat and tidy patch of grass. 

Landscape professionals help add another dimension to your yard with careful consideration of important aspects like yard health, garden bed creation, planting, pruning and strategic approach to maintenance that most landscapers won’t be able to provide. Landscape professionals go beyond merely maintaining to creating a yard worth living in. 

Sometimes though, there’s something strange about your yard that you can’t quite put your finger on. The gardens are beautiful, and the plants are thriving in the shade your garage creates, but something doesn’t feel quite right. If that’s the case, it’s time to call in a landscape designer. 

Why and when to use a landscape designer

We’ve recently talked about the differences between landscape designers and landscape architects, and we won’t get into the fascinating details here. However, there are some simple rules to think of when deciding if your yard needs a landscape designer. 

When you’re ready to kick it up a notch and transform your yard from a simple patch of grass to a fully functioning outdoor living space, you’ll want to work with a landscape designer. 

A landscape designer will help you decide how best to make use of yard space. With your goals and objectives in place, they’ll make sure backyard features are in the correct position (no shrubbery placed beside the barbecue, no stone walkways that lead to nowhere). Most importantly, landscape designers will work to make sure that all the unique design elements contribute to a beautiful and functional outdoor space, entirely created to meet your backyard needs and desires. 

But what happens when a design isn’t enough? It’s great to have a thoughtfully designed and beautifully maintained multi-tiered garden to help direct foot traffic from the garage. But what happens when you’ve got grading issues, zoning concerns, and big projects with consideration for plumbing and electrical to take into account? Well, now you’ll need a landscape architect.

A landscape architect looks at yard design plans

Why and when to use a landscape architect

We want to be clear that although we’ve separated roles and responsibilities for the sake of comparison, there is a lot of overlap between landscape maintenance, designers, and architects. All of these unique skills and roles are required to create a genuinely liveable outdoor space you can love (see our blog on Design & Build, and why they work together). However, as we’ve already explored, there are critical differences in these roles.

When you’ve got to address geographic issues like grading or zoning or want to include some more significant “structural” features to your yard, it’s best to involve a landscape architect. Landscape architects are responsible for the planning, strategy, and design of outdoor spaces. While this includes residential projects, landscape architects are uniquely qualified (and trained) to design public parks, gardens, resorts, institutional campuses, malls, and more. 

A landscape architect is perfect for making sure design, build, and maintenance all work together to create a liveable yard, while still planning for safety, environmental concerns, and local zoning laws. 

So, do you really need a landscape architect? That all depends on your goals.

Now we’ve gone through “why” and “when” you’ll need a specific landscape industry professional. Remember, all of these unique skill sets contribute to creating a backyard design you’ll love

Do you have an idea for your dream backyard? Drop us a line; we’d love to hear it. If you’re still trying to decide how to express your outdoor living space dreams, check out our free Backyard Design Checklist to get the process started.