Recomendations to a Landscape Architect

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by sepm, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. alexschultz1

    alexschultz1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,555

    2 summers trying to learn irrigation? I would much rather spend my time working side by side with someone like jimlewis or dvs.

    IMHO you need to go for your masters and try to snag a job working for a design firm.
  2. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I sort of disagree with this. Only in that I'd rather the designer or L.A. not get involved with spec'ing the irrigation side of things. Because I always have more experience on how an irrigation system should be laid out than they do. So I just don't want them even going there.

    Lighting is a little different. The designer we use will sometimes spec. the lighting, but when she does she always tells my client that I know lighting better than she does and to consult with me for a final lighting layout. Other times she just tells the customer that she'll defer the entire lighting portion to whatever I recommend. And that works great for me. I think it's nice when a designer or L.A. knows their limitations and allows for someone who is more familiar with that portion of the landscape to handle that part.
  3. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    The whole thing is this. Any designer, whether a contractor, a landscape designer, or a registered landscape architect, should only design what they are familiar and knowledgable about. Very few people are proficient in anything and everything. When they pretend they are, they do the crap that makes them look bad. It is allright not to know everything. It is not allright to not know and fake it.

    This work is too diverse to know it all. There are so many different ways you can take to build a career. It all starts by what you can sell and what you can deliver in order to keep selling it. I don't do lighting or irrigation design. It takes time to design that adds to the design budget making it harder to sell. Irrigation contractors and lighting contractors will design to sell the product, will use the products and techniques that they are familiar with and competent with often resulting in a great result and less hassles.

    In this economy, it is always a good thing to be able to make contractors happy to work with you. There is no better way than to let them do their thing if they don't need the oversight. These guys are doing lots of projects and sometimes there needs to be a designer involved. I like to be the one that they know is not going to hijack their part of it - that is why they bring me in instead of somone else when the situation arises.

    I do a fair amount of projects for homeowners that are in the $25-50k range where they want to take bids from contractors. I often leave material choices to be negotiated between the homeowner and the contractors (not always happy with the choices). This is where homeowners can decide to reach up for better products or water down to adjust the budget.

    The biggest problem that I run into with contractors is with plants. Too many of them bargain shop and get what they pay for in terms of quality. It is not uncommon for them to cheat on sizes as well in order to win a bid and then make up for it by buying smaller plants. I try to stay out of tagging plants in order to let the contractor's make their money, but it is such a bad problem that I'm going to do more tagging this year.
  4. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,441

    For those that are interested, there is a certified landscape designer (CLD) designation and testing available through Planet and the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association.

    Dynascape gives deals to the Canadian CLD's.:clapping:

  5. SoCalLandscapeMgmt

    SoCalLandscapeMgmt LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,829

    You've gotta remember Jim, guys like you are generally the exception. My comments are based on my experience in the commercial installation market here in So. Cal. I've seen contractors try to wing it and just fail horribly at installing irrigation. On the other side I've seen landscape architects who don't know very little, or think that they know everything about irrigation fail horribly at designing a system. I can't think of any local city or county government down here that will approve a landscape design for a commercial property without an irrigation design. This is a good thing in my opinion. I can't tell you how many contractors that I've met who can read a plan and install an irrigation system perfectly if it's all designed for them yet they couldn't design one themselves if their life depended on it.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I guess that's true. I've made irrigation one of my specialties over the years and have done quite a bit more experience and expertise there than even several of my cohorts in these parts.

    I think a lot of what you are referring to is true for commercial projects. But isn't that the whole theory behind doing as-builts? You have the design that the L.A. does and then you have the way it really gets built, by someone who knows irrigation a little better than the L.A. does. So that person builds it close to how the L.A. designed it but then submits an as-built to clarify how it was really built, taking into account the changes that were made.

    Anyway, in residential irrigation, I personally just like to design it myself. But I understand where you are coming from.
  7. sepm

    sepm LawnSite Member
    from Toronto
    Posts: 40

    thanks for all the replies everyone i just want to be as prepared and easy to work with as posible
  8. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Posts: 3,233

    Is a landscape architect a 4 year degree?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,944

    4 yr degree + masters + time working under a licensed LA + passing the exam
  10. burnthefurniture

    burnthefurniture LawnSite Member
    Posts: 94

    I have a 5 year undergraduate degree in landscape architecture and the licensing requirements vary somewhat by state but typically all states require experience + the passage of the exam. In Louisiana I was required to have experience under a licensed LA for a year and then had to pass my tests to become licensed.

    As was mentioned before, this is a very broad field. Golf course design, urban planning, residential design/build all fall under the category of landscape architecture, but they're very very different. If you have a general idea what niche you are interested in, you can begin learning and getting experience in the things that are closely related to that niche.

    For instance, I am a second generation landscape architect/landscape contractor/irrigation contractor at our family's design build firm. I had worked out in the field on the construction side of things (which I still do on most days) and had a working knowledge of construction of landscape, hardscape, buildings, wood, carpentry, electrical, irrigation, etc long before I stepped into the classroom. I continue to learn both in my design and contracting capacities. Design informs construction but knowledge of construction also informs design. I've seen plans designed by clueless landscape architects that are impossible to build or realize because they do not have a concept of what is involved to make the thing work. I have also seen landscape contractors "design" projects that are so boring it is embarrassing. There is a line between form and function and the more experience you can get in any of the construction capacities, the more it will help to inform your overall education. You can target more specific construction capacities if you have an idea of the niche you intend to work in. But getting out and doing with your hands will give you a whole new understanding of what you think you're drawing and designing.

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