Studies & Degrees in Landscape Design

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Landscape Design, which is mostly mistaken for landscape architecture because of the similarity of functions, is basically involved in producing aesthetically pleasing landscapes. Landscape designers, as opposed to landscape architects, are more concerned with artistic considerations whereas landscape architects have to consider aspects such as structural engineering. Those designating themselves as landscape designers do not need a license to practice their profession unlike landscape architects who are required to get a license. There are places, though, that are not strict with landscape contractors as long as they don’t use the title “landscape architects.” Not to be confused, landscape architects are also practitioners of landscape design. It just so happens that a lot of garden landscape artists called themselves landscape designers during the time when sophisticated-sounding job titles became a fad. Because of the proliferation of garden landscapists, the term landscape design became synonymous with landscape architects who also do projects like garden landscaping.

Landscape design takes into account soils, drainage, climate and other things that may contribute to survival of plants. Plants are essential elements in landscape design as they contribute significant effects to the overall landscape. Consider the high palm trees lined along the streets in posh Beverly Hills. Usually, movies with location shooting in Beverly Hills would usually show the palm trees and then the shops along Rodeo Drive. This is because the palm trees give Beverly Hills the posh feel that people came to regard it now. The palm trees were such a hit that developers of first-class residential areas use palm trees now to give it that distinct first-class ambiance. Aside for aesthetic purposes, some plants are also used because of their special functions. The Eucalyptus tree’s ability to ward off insects and the Indian tree’s fence-like and shading attributes, landscape artists tend to favor selecting them on projects.

Another major factor in the success of a landscape designer is the effective mixing and matching of colors. Since landscape designers view everything as one big picture, aside from the colors plants provide, the paint of a structure that is part of a landscape are also given much attention. Knowing what colors go with what colors is a must for landscape designers. Color schemes can give the tone of a place. Places with black and white motif usually give a classy look to it, butter yellow painted places usually have a sunny feel to them and brown tones usually give a country flavor.

Another thing that may set a landscape designer apart from the rest is how he conceptualizes a particular landscape. What the focus or foci should be? If a symmetrical or asymmetrical design is more apt for a particular site? Choosing a central piece or focus is very important. The focus is the main attraction of a landscape so a choice of what will be the focus could be the most important decision a landscape designer would have to take. Usual points of focus are fountains, statues, monuments, big plants or sculpture pieces. For indoors, a good focus piece is a grand chandelier, works of art or even a simple antique furniture.

Job positions for Landscape Design:


Another specialist essential to landscape designers are arboculturalists or arborists or in laymen's terms, tree surgeons. Arboriculture is the science of managing and maintaining ornamental or shade trees which would include shrubs and vines. An arboculturalist is a specialized branch of ornamental horticulture focusing only in trees used in landscaping projects. Arboculturalists are responsible for looking after the health of the trees. Not to be mistaken for a lumberjack and a forester, although both of them deal with trees, arboculturalists are more focused on a tree's condition. Forester study trees on a more scientific level while lumberjacks are mainly wood cutters. More or less, the difference of these three is how they treat trees. To be called an arboculturalist means obtaining a certified license. Different countries have different ways of giving the title of aborculturalist. In the United States, an aborculturalist aspirant have to pass a comprehensive written test given by the International Society of Arboriculture and must have at least three years experience.

Being an arboriculturalist may require additional trainings like being a Certified Line Clearance so that when trees are near electrical wires permissions need not be necessary. Another possible training needed, especially for those dealing with really large trees, are operation of cranes and other machines that may lift, transport and those that may be used trimming purposes. Having additional skills are always an advantage.

For not so big landscape projects, usually, ornamental holticulturists would suffice but for projects that involve a lot of trees like parks, theme parks or village masterplans, arboriculturalists are the go-to guys. The Yellowstone Park maintains an arboculturalist or possibly a team of arboculturalists as trees generally define the landscape as they are essential to its famous inhabitants – the bears.

Arboculturalist, generally have a wide scope of work in relation to trees but it should be noted that, still, aesthetics is still their forte with regards to the general landscape. In fact, as far as pruning and trimming is concerned, bonsai, the famous miniature trees, falls also under their jurisdiction. Arboriculture and ornamental horticulture do sometimes overlap in functions but in regards to bonsai, an arboriculturalist should have the upper hand as basically it is tree maintenance rather than mere aesthetics.

Application of right chemicals to for controlling insect infestation and diseases brought about by pests should also be in the armory of an arboriculturalists' knowledge. Different techniques of application like spraying, soil application and stem injections require.

Other duties of an arboriculture may also include assessment of the safety of trees to its proximity to human pathways or community. They have the power to determine if indeed a tree may cause danger to humans.

Landscape designers employ arboculturalists as their knowledge in trees both in aesthetic purposes and maintenance are essential in a project. There have been some instances when trees where transplanted on a landscape without consulting tree experts but then after a few months the trees died and the intended appeal of the landscape also vanished with it. However, nowadays, masterplanning are incorporating arboriculturalist's inputs so incidents of dying trees so soon won't happen again.

Ornamental Horticulturist

One of the most important elements in Landscape Design is the utilization of plants. For purposes of aesthetics with regards to Landscape design, ornamental horticulturists are the authority and experts in the field. Generally, ornamental horticulture can identify plants, which would come in handy when selecting a particular plant for a particular site, knows about garden maintenance, arboriculture and nursery work. There are some landscape designers that have preference to some ornamental plants that the only way to get assurance of supply is to grow the plant themselves. The knowledge of growing, nurturing and culturing of ornamental plants usually falls to the ornamental horticulturist. The process of growing the plant is already a very complicated aspect as even irrigation systems and machineries that come with it have to be designed by the horticulturist when really necessary.

Since plants are grown, naturally, soils and other types of medium are also needed to be an area of expertise among horticulturists. There are some plants that would only grow in some types of soils so it is really a must that a horticulturist should know these things. In some cases, though, the soil contributes to the overall picture of the landscape. Another strong point of a horticulturist is pest management and control. One such landscape spoilers are insects. There are pests that eat the leaves thereby negating the purpose of placing the plant as part of a landscape. Some plants are used to give shape to the landscape, some are to give colors and some are plainly just to give shade. No matter what purpose or reason that a plant is present in a landscape, still the prospect of pests eating away at it would mean the despoiling of the landscape. A good knowledge of controlling and getting rid of these nasty insects would save the plants and the landscape. Of course, topography is always taken into consideration as different types of plants adapt to different type of topographies.

Generally, different kinds of plants are used for different purposes. Modern landscapes usually incorporate ornamental grasses. Ornamental grasses can provide the needed green effect and needs only little effort to maintain. Another favorite of landscape designers are vines. Vines are very versatile because they can serve a lot of purposes. One thing about vines is they can add layer or veil of color to any architectural structure. Landscape designers also consider plants that can be pruned to be shaped according to what shape is required. Large estates with landscapes usually have plants that have been groomed to shape like a giant ball or to the shape of a dinosaur or giraffe. Plants that can be shaped are good center pieces of a mini landscape but the drawback, of course, is it requires heavy maintenance. And then, the most common reason plants are chosen is because of how they mix and match with other plants. Landscapers consider also the color of the building. If the building has yellow streaks in it then most probably, plants with yellow streaks are matched with it.

Opportunities for ornamental horticulturist are tied up with the state of the landscape design industry. A vast knowledge in plants and keeping up with modern trends would surely spell success for an aspiring ornamental horticulturist.