What’s The Difference Between a Landscape Designer and Architect

A team of landscape designers looking at plans

At Wright Landscape Services, we take outdoor living design seriously. With a team of Landscape Architects and Certified Landscape Designers, we bring your backyard dreams to life!

Many people use the terms landscape architect and landscape designer interchangeably, thinking they’re more or less the same thing. While there are definitely similarities, there are essential differences between the two.

Either a landscape designer or a landscape architect is needed to create an outdoor living space you can be proud of. Landscape architects and landscape designers have similar but separate roles and responsibilities in bringing your dream landscape design to life.

Creating a yard that you’ll love will take more than exotic water features and well-maintained lawns. To create a beautiful yard, you need thoughtful use of decorative elements and tactical consideration of your lawn’s geographical features and environmental factors. That’s why we use landscape designers and landscape architects in our design & build process.

Let’s look at the differences between landscape designers and landscape architects and the ways that each contribute to creating an amazing outdoor living space.

What is a landscape designer?

The main difference between a landscape designer and landscape architect is the scope of work each is responsible for. Typically, landscape designers work on smaller-scale residential projects that don’t involve large scale grading and drainage requirements.

Just like interior designers, landscape designers work to make a space beautiful through the use of specific design elements. And, just like interior designers, landscape designers compliment the “structural” work of an architect!

At Wright Landscape Services, all of our landscape designers are trained through a certified post-secondary program. However, some landscape designers are self-taught. Someone can call themselves a landscape designer with no formal training or certified education.

What to expect from a landscape designer?

The primary responsibility of a landscape designer is to create an attractive, aesthetically-pleasing outdoor living space. When working with a landscape designer, there are a few things you can expect from them to create your perfect outdoor living space.

The primary responsibilities of a landscape designer may include:

  • Taking photographs of your current property
  • Recommending plants based on your preferences
  • Account for things like how much garden maintenance and lawn care you’re willing to provide
  • Accompany you to local nurseries when selecting plants, materials, and furnishings

To be successful in the design of your yard, landscape designers should have knowledge in the following areas:

  • Horticulture and ecological basics
  • Identifying existing garden plants
  • Identifying trees, shrubs and perennials
  • Design conceptualization, representation, and presentation

In short, when you have a vision for your outdoor living spaces, a landscape designer can help you make your backyard dreams a reality. But to really build a yard you’ll love, a landscape designer needs their best friend, the landscape architect!

A detailed design drawing of a landscape project

What is a landscape architect?

A landscape architect is responsible for the planning and design of outdoor spaces. They can be responsible for residential projects like backyard design, but are trained to design public parks, public gardens, resorts, campuses, cemeteries, malls, and more! Landscape architects are professionally bound to creating safe public spaces.

To be a landscape architect in the province of Ontario, you must have earned a degree from an accredited university with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or a Masters of Landscape Architecture.

To earn their stamp, landscape architects must also complete a series of exams and have a minimum of 2 years of experience in the field. 

While landscape architects and landscape designers will receive some of the same education, landscape architects are also trained in specific areas that are required by most municipalities for commercial and industrial work.

Additional training and education for landscape architects include:

  • Grading and drainage.
  • Identifying and overcoming environmental limitations
  • Professional practice
  • Complying with local laws and securing the proper permits
  • Landscape conservation and restoration.

Another essential difference between landscape architects and landscape designers is the responsibility for dealing with local topography (such as slopes and grades) and other complicated environmental issues. Landscape architects are trained to deal with these issues when planning for:

  • Walkways and front entrances
  • Retaining walls
  • Waterfalls and ponds

In short, a landscape architect understands how a project gets built in addition to coming up with what gets built. If your backyard project needs grading, drainage, retaining walls and intricate hardscape, this may be beyond the expertise of a designer.  Landscape architecture is a regulated profession while landscape design is not.

Obviously, there are differences between a landscape designer and architect, but both work together to design and build amazing outdoor living spaces. Now that you know the differences between landscape designers and landscape architects, are you ready to start creating the yard of your dreams?

If you’ve got an idea for your outdoor living space, we want to hear about it. Tell us a little bit about your project, we’d love to help you get started.