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Old 10-11-2013, 09:40 AM
AGLA AGLA is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 1,722
I'm only going to dispute one point that Jim made, the rest I generally agree with. That one point is that some LAs, not many, were good landscape designers who went back to school and added on to what they already knew and what they already experienced.

Not many LA programs have a lot of planting design, often only two semesters. That is two semesters more than most landscape designers, but that could also be displacing a year of hands on trial and error in the field.

Getting the LA degree is not going to make you incapable of doing anything in the way of creativity or practicality that you might have without it, but it could put you on a course where you do not gain that same type of experience that Jim's designers get.

The university professors look down on residential as if it is not worthy of the profession. The truth is that it is more complicated, more difficult, and has a bigger impact of the people using the site than any large scale venue. These landscapes are impacting a family for most of each and every day no matter what they are doing. You impact very few people with each design, but it is a huge impact that has to take into account every aspect every day. Big sites usually have a specific use or a specific set of uses and a more limited demographic. The site is bigger, but the requirements are much more limited.

The degree does open doors to gain experience in more site design issues than planting and surfacing hardscapes which you can then incorporate into residential design. The problem is that it takes time and it follows a different path than that which has you growing with experience through trial and error and being on site doing residential design. In other words, it is not easy to do both at the same time. If you do one, you are probably not doing the other.

I had the good fortune of being a landscape designer/contractor before getting my degree at 35. I was able to work full time in civil engineering offices and part time as a landscape designer for a well established high end contractor at the same time for a lot of years. The only reason why I could have that part time job was that I was already known to be a good landscape designer. It is not easy for someone else to come right out of school and get a job doing landscape design for a good company with no experience ... Jim is going to take experience over degree every time, I believe. So will everyone else in business.
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