Landscape architecture or design?

These terms continue to confuse and mislead. I will try my best to clarify and hopefully broaden your knowledge and understanding. To start, the term landscape is that portion of the earth’s surface which is visible from any point on or above the earth’s suface, that the eye can can comprehend in a single view, especially in its pictorial aspect (G.M. Pierceall, 1984). Landscape does not merely refer to human-designed and built yards, it equally concerns nature’s compositions, the natural world.

The Native Plant Garden, New York Botanical Garden by Oehme, van Sweden, landscape architects

Landscape architecture is the art of arranging land and the objects upon it and within it for human use and beauty. It is the art of utilizing space in the landscape. Landscape architecture involves the use of the landscape that ultimately involves three primary aspects:

  1. Controlled environments within the landscape space
  2. Adaptation of organisms to both the natural and controlled environments.
  3. Conservation of the resources and aesthetic values of the landscape.

Simply put, landscape architecture is the creative design, organization and use of outdoor spaces, predominantly for the public.

Landscape architects are licensed practitioners of landscape architecture, similar to the licensure and standards of engineers and architects. We collaborate with landscape architects on large-scale land-shaping projects with heavy public use because that is their expertise.

Private residence in Topanga, CA by Campion Walker landscape designers

Landscape design is fundamentally a cohesive and aesthetic problem-solving process in the creation of outdoor living areas for humans or in cases of conservation, habitats for a broad range of organisms. Landscape design is a component of landscape architecture as is site planning, stormwater management, and environmental restoration. However, we believe that responsible landscape design must integrate those components as well. It is not merely the arrangement of beautiful plants, stone and structure for homeowners.

Landscape design consultants work in similar contexts as landscape architects but usually on a smaller scale. Landscape designers tend to engage in minimal landform design and thus less alteration of topography. In many cases, designers are more allied to natural landscapes, working with a lighter touch and in conjunction with adjoining environments. It is our belief that state and national certifications provide the best assurance of professionalism, primarily because of the continuing education that is required of all certifications. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers  is the national certifying organization for landscape design professionals.