Landscape Architecture

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by rookie03, Jan 25, 2004.

  1. rookie03

    rookie03 LawnSite Member
    from OK
    Messages: 184

    Does anyone have a Bachelor Degree in Landscape Architecture? If not, what do you have your degree in for Landscaping? What's the best school around for a Bachelor Degree in Landscaping? Any information is appreciated. Thanks
  2. WeatherMan

    WeatherMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 692

    I have a masters in Architecture with a minor in Landscape Architecture From Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
  3. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

    Hi Rookie3,

    Here is a quote from this post, maybe it will be helpful.

    "If you want to have a landscape contracting business, an LA degree is not the best one to get. It is a specialized degree in land planning with landscape design being a small part of that. It is not designed to make a landscape contractor out of you.

    I can not speak for the state or Oregon, but in most states the years of experience that you can apply toward sitting for the exam must be under full time direct supervision of a licensed landscape architect. In many states you need two years of that experience in addition to your degree to sit for the exam. The point is that you can not get that experience if you are owning your own landscape contracting business at the same time.

    Being a registered landscape architect is not going to significantly put you ahead of your competition as a landscape contractor. I don't know why someone would want to invest all that time and money in school, in internships, and exams to be an LA if you really want to be a contractor.

    Being an LA is a rewarding career and a very diverse field. There are some that are great landscape contractors as well. Many are great landscape designers while many suck.

    The LA field has its high end and low end just like any other field. The high end of landscape architecture is not the same as the high end of landscape contracting. Generally speaking, when a small to mid sized landscape contractor is working on a job done by an LA, he is less likely to find a good LA on the project. That is why many of you find that the LA's you run into don't know much.

    I am a Registered Landscape Architect that was in the landscape industry for 15 years before I got my degree. I worked in land planning after I got license doing almost no planting plans. It was fun well paid enjoyable work that required the training that I got. It had nothing to do with landscape design as a contractor would recognize it. I am in design/build now. It is the combination of my prior experience and the need for specialized expertise in dealing with environmental laws that give me value in this particular company."
  4. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,825

    I wrote what was posted above.

    Do you have an idea of what you want to be doing five years, ten years, and 30 down the road? It will make a big difference in what is the best way to get where you want to go.
  5. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,119

    Well, I figure that since I graduated from Oklahoma State with a BS in landscape contracting, you might be interested in what I have to say, so here's my two cents:

    I started out as a turf management major. I then decided to change my major to landscape architecture. Somehow, in one of my design classes, I rubbed a professor the wrong way. The professor's name was Tim Schmoll. I don't think I'll ever forget him. It was his first day teaching our design class, a small class of about seven or eight students. Well, anyway, he was writing something on the chalk board and I took the liberty of pointing out a mistake I thought he had made. After closer scrutiny, it was I who had made a mistake and the professor was right. I must have really been an azz about it, because I don't think he liked the criticism. Outside of that, I don't think the guy had any reason to dislike me. Well, as you can imagine, the grading in a design class is very judgemental. To make a long story short, I failed that course...the only course I ever failed at Oklahoma State. I'll never forget the time I pulled an all nighter that fall in the design lab with all of my class mates, the whole time wondering where my fraternity brother was. He comes rushing in at 8:00am after a night at Joe's. Our presentations are due at 9:30. His drawings look like a child with crayons next to ours. He got a B and I got a D. Oh well, life isn't fair.

    That design class, if memory serves correct, was one of four and it was all that separated the Landscape Contracting majors from the Landscape Architecture majors. All the other class requirements were identical. So I was pretty much forced into the LC major by failing that design class.

    I guess my point of telling you all this is, I basically have a degree in landscape architecture. All the classes the LA's took, I took, with the exception of the three design classes I didn't take. That's all that separates them from me.

    When I was there, there seemed to be a lot of bickering over who's responsibility the landscape design belonged to. The architects thought they could do it, and obviously, that was stepping on the toes of the landscape architects. But the whole problem is, every building project gets handed off to an architectural firm, not a landscape firm. If the architects think they're capable of designing the landscape, who do you think designs them? My understanding is that most architectural firms don't have landscape architects on staff, nor do they hand them off to landscape architectural firms. Typically the architects layout the landscape and turn it over to landscape contractors who select suitable plants. It doesn't always work this way, but it works this way more often than not.

    As for the education, it's a university education. It's not a technical school. When I graduated, I designed not one, but TWO landscapes in FIVE YEARS that included plants. And even if I had taken those other three LA Design courses, they did not include plant materials in the designs either. 99% of what we did was just fairytale schit. No budgets. Not even plants. Just design the layout of the parking lots and decide where the trees, shrubs, grass, water features and sidewalks will go, but don't bother selecting specific plant materials. And don't bother trying to figure pump sizes for water features. Don't bother with budgets. Don't bother trying to bid anything. Don't bother even trying to guess how many man hours an installation will require or what the price of the materials will be. Just draw a pretty picture. The prettier the picture, the better the grade. I probably spent less than 2 hours of total class time on irrigation in five years. Probably less than 3 hours on retaining walls. But we did spend at least 1/3 of an entire semester learning how to design streets, roads and highways...something that is ALWAYS done by civil engineering firms. We memorized a lot of common/latin names of plants as well as identification. The hort classes were good stuff. 90%+ of the usefull stuff was in the hort classes, but there were only like three of those for the LC or LA majors. The LA & LC classes were a joke, if you ask me.

    If you want to own your own business, I would say the money would be better spent elsewhere. If you think you'll need to be an employee at some point in your life, our society places a great deal of value on education. I still can't figure out why it's that way, but it's that way.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  6. OP

    rookie03 LawnSite Member
    from OK
    Messages: 184

    All I've heard is you make the money in landscaping. You won't make much money mowing. You need to get into landscaping. That's where the money is. I see most of you on here don't recommend wasting money by going to college for Landscape Architecture. I have no idea about how to start up a Landscape business. How do I even start? Where do you get the products from? Basically I need one of those books, " Landscaping for Dummies." LOL. Where do I start? How do I start my own landscaping business? How did you all do it?
  7. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,119


    From what I've seen, it's possible to gross a lot more per man hour when designing and installing landscapes, irrigation, etc. But the problem I see with building a business that relies on that is, it can turn from feast to famine over night. As long as interest rates are low, and new construction starts are high, there can be plenty of work. But the problem is, what will happen when rates go back up and new construction and housing starts decline?

    Another problem I think you'll run into in the construction business is keeping your employees working efficiently. With maintenance, they go from one job to the next to the next, all day long using the same set of equipment. With construction, I'd guess there is a lot less efficiency, with work sights being spread out further apart, warranty work eating up a ton of man hours, having to run over here to rent this or get that...just my feel for the business, though I have little experience with construction.

    Landscape maintenance is something that's basically recession proof, as far as the demand side of the equation is concerned. Good economy or bad, the landscapes have got to be maintained. Trugreen has built quite a little business in the maintenance industry. I'm not familiar with any construction companies who have been so successful that they've become a household name. The downside to maintenance is that you're always going to be competing with little Tommie down the street and the unemployed guys. This is an easy business to get into, which is what makes it such a tough business.

    As for a "how to" instruction on "how to" make money in the landscape business, is as close as it gets. I've learned a lot more about how to run this business on LawnSight than I ever would have learned at OSU with a photographic memory.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  8. jwholden

    jwholden LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 218

    I have a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from UCONN. I would have to agree with DFW that there isn't a lot of hands on experience in college. However, that is what internships and summer jobs are for.

    I mowed lawns while I attended college and looking back I would have learned more working for a nursery or landscape contractor while in school.

    Please don't underestimate the value of college. While I was there I took many courses on running a business and hortilculture. Some memorable horticulture courses include Woodys I & II, Herbaceous Ornamentals, Nursery Management, Landscape Plant Maintenance, Landscape Design, Soils.

    Honestly, you don't need a college education to be a landscape contractor. I consider landscape contracting more of a trade, like an electrician or plumber, where you need to work under someone who knows what their doing while getting your feet wet. You don't need to work under someone else, but it will take longer to learn on your own.

    If you decide to go to college don't think that you will gain access to an easy living. You will still have to pay your dues once you get out of school and may be 'greener' than the guys who work as laborers at your job after school. However, in five years they will still be laborers and you'll be moving up in the company.

    Final note, if you do go to college and plan on working in the field of landscape contracting take as many courses in Spanish as you possibly can. This will guarantee to turn heads when you look for your first job after school and help you immensely if you start your own business and need good help.
  9. jwholden

    jwholden LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 218


    When you start looking for collleges you will realize that schools that teach courses such as Landscape Architecture, Horticulture, Landscape Contracting etc. are state schools. I would start looking at the the state schools in your area.

    My high school had a room where you could go to do research on colleges and there was a lady who worked there who would help you with the seach. I would start at your high school and send away for information about about the colleges you are interested in.
  10. hole in one lco

    hole in one lco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,793

    ohio state university

Share This Page