Landscape architecture

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by thelawnkid, Feb 23, 2005.

  1. thelawnkid

    thelawnkid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 139

    Does any body know where I can get some online information on this, or a book that covers this pretty well. I took 3 years of drafting in high school, and now for college I am taking a horticulture program next year. But for this summer I would like to have some knowledge of how to properly design a landscape. thanks for the help.
  2. Smithers

    Smithers LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,265

    there was a thread on here about a landscape design class very recently. in it, there is a post of mine with a book that you can purchase online. the class that people were taking uses the same book that i purchased. it deals with landscape design preparation.

    hope this helps.
  3. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    I went to school for architecture, and now I'm getting into landscape architecture (but not formal schooling) I found some great books at Tons of landscape architecture texbooks, drawing techniques, planning, graphics, design you name it. I just ordered 4 books and theres at least 10 more that look good.
  4. thelawnkid

    thelawnkid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 139

    thanks for the help guys. have any of you taken a college class on this type of class.
  5. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    Yes. The classes that taught me the most were studio class. Theres 4 of them, at least at the school I went to. Intro studios basically show you how to draw, use a drafting board, basic graphic techniques, how to make a drawing to scale etc... As you get into the upper levels you start getting assignments an example might be, The client wants an art studio built, the property is heavely graded, theres a lake to the north and a wooded area to the south the client wants to have a view of the lake and also like to view the sunset and a place to display art. The assignment would state the amount of square footage allowed, must be able to view lake, and sunset, have a gallery area, and design functional space with the terrain. It's challenging because so many design aspects come into play not just put up a shack with a few windows. You need to meet the clients special needs, his/her personality, have interesting design features and reason for them. Form follows function, teachers would burn that phrase into our brains over and over. My suggestion if you can is get into design classes, not just drawing and models but actual design and what makes a good design take them. It will give you an edge in making good designs that will be tailored to the client. I would say I got a lot out of school.
  6. Smithers

    Smithers LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,265

    promower, share some of the book titles that you ordered with us.
  7. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    Heres the ones I recently ordered.

    1. Residential Landscape Arch. Design process for the private residence.
    2. Arch. Rendering techniques. A color reference
    3. From concept to form In landscape design
    4. Landscape graphics plan, section, and perspective drawing.
  8. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    I think that's pretty cool that you like learning about that stuff.

    With several months of reading, I'd probably be able to pass the Oregon landscape architect exam, since they take related experience to qualify for the exam.

    But when I stand back and look at what I want to do in the years ahead, it's not quite my cup of tea.

    In Oregon, anyhow, landscape contractors can contract design planning with full construction details just like a landscape architect as long as we don't call ourselves "architects" and don't design public works.

    So that's a huge amount of design freedom.

    Anyway, wish you the best on your studies. Let us know what all books and classes you enjoyed.
  9. thelawnkid

    thelawnkid LawnSite Member
    Messages: 139

    I can't wait till I start college for this stuff. Right now my company does mostly mowing, and we are doing a little over 100 residential accounts, and several commercials. this spring we are starting to landscape, so I want to learn as much as possible before the season starts. Right now I figure that I am not doing too bad, I can't wait to see what my company looks like in 5 years.
  10. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Landscape Architecture is often a misunderstood subject by those going into it as much as by the average person using or hearing the term. It is not a snobby sounding substitute word for garden design which is often what people think it is.

    It is processed planning of outdoor spaces. It can be small spaces or large spaces. They may or may not include plants, gardens, and things horticultural in nature. It can be odd things like recreation camps, or highways, golf courses, zoos, shopping malls, etc,... Planting design can be part of it, but it in itself is not planting design.

    The schooling for it is different than for horticulture. Most of the accredited programs are not in the agriculture colleges of the universities, but in the colleges of Art & Architecture, or Letters and Science. Doctorates are often PhDs in Philosophy rather than Science.

    If you want a book that gives an accurate overview of what you would be getting into, get "Ready, Set, Practice" by Sharky. It is a book about professional office practice in landscape architecture. By seeing how the office operates, it will tell you much more than the books that are for development of individual skills that are tools of the profession such as drafting, site analysis, grading & drainage, construction detail drawing, site layout, graphic standards, etc,... The latter show you some of what goes into developing certain skills often used within the profession, but do little to let you know just what the hell a landscape architect does with those skills. You are still left not knowing what you are supposed to do with those skills.

    The LARE is the exam used by 46 states and a few Canadian provinces along with additional modules that most states add on to meet standards that a particular state might tack on. Most have a section to do with regional plants. Florida has a very extensive section to do with Florida wetlands. The LARE does not test your ability to draw, your knowledge of individual plants, anything to do with horticulture, it does not test your aesthetic abilities, or most of what many people think it would.

    It does test your knowledge of regulatory procedures like permitting, zoning, conservation, contractual obligations, liability, etc,... it tests your knowledge of site engineering like grading and drainage calculations, pipe sizing, leach pits calcs, detention and retention pond design, erosion control, site line calcs, view shed design, etc,...

    It tests your ability to design for safety and security such as vehicular and pedestrian circulation, to recognize, avoid, and mitigate potential criminal activity (heavy plant cover next to a jogging trail) or potential safety conflicts (like putting a toddler play area next to a golf driving range), etc,...

    You will be tested on construction detail drawing, not for your ability to spec beauty or the latest and greatest materials, but for health, safety, and welfare. You need to design things that do not fail due to climate, use, or avoidable misuse. You have to spec surfaces that are appropriate to their use. You have to design things that facilitate the activities that are planned for a particular item that you are drawing the detail for. You have to know ADA regulations and apply them, etc,...

    You will also be tested on recognizing, coordinating, and laying out all the necessary site requirements for any one type of outdoor scenario that someone can dream up in a safe, secure, and effective manor. That can be a state park with tent camping, a boat launch and parking, a visitor center, swimming area, hotel, day visitor's picnic areas, restrooms, shower facilities, camper sanitary dumping station, and park maintenance area. Or it could be a golf course with a drop off area, parking for 100 cars (don't forget your required HP and ADA access to the building), parking landscape requirements, driving range, golf cart storage, restaurant, sidewalks, etc,... all crammed into a limited site with topography, existing trees to be preserved,....

    All of these things are enhanced by landscaping as most of us no it, but it is really a much different subject all together. If you really want to do traditional landscape design like residential and commercial plantings and hardscapes after the engineers and architects have sited the buildings, driveways, etc,..., landscape architecture is a lot of extra hoops to jump through. I did not mention that in most states you need a Bachelors degree from one of a limited amount of accredited programs, two years of internship working full time under the direct supervision of a Registered Landscape Architect, and then you can take the three or four days of exams to get your license. (Many states will accept 6 or more years of experience working full time under the direct supervision of an RLA in lieu of a degree, being a landscape contractor does not count)

    The idea is that you should be able to put together all the desired activities that are desired on the site so that they have all the physical requirements to take place and that the users attain the appropriate experience in doing the activity. If that means playing tennis, you need a 60'x120' playing surface graded with a 6" side slope in one direction oriented north and south. You'll need to handle a lot of runoff and be free of traffic noise and other distracting activities. Hopefully the court will be close to the locker room and pro shop as long as the site along with its other activities allows.

    Tho point of the long explanation is that the LA route might be a waste of time for you and totally unnecessary if you want to do traditional landscape design.

    On the other hand it is a rewarding and fun profession that gives you a lot of planning skills that can be applied to traditional landscape design. You will undoubtedly be able to work very closely with engineers, architects, and surveyors much earlier in the process than a typical horticultural landscape designer. You will be able to use the same technology the other design professionals are using which streamlines the process when those folks are involved in the job as well. You can work within the civil engineering profession doing major site plans because you will have similar skills that transfer very easily. As a matter of fact, you can take the lead in the design and have the architect and engineer respond to you, if your client puts you in that role. You will have a lot more instant credibility before regulatory agencies when you are licensed (not to say you can not earn respect without it).

    Is a Landscape Architect automatically better qualified to design the landscape of a small business or a home? No, but he is not automatically less qualified either depending on his experience. Is a Landscape Architect better qualified to design a home site from an empty lot to a house, garage, driveway, pool, tennis court, patios, retaining walls, drainage, ... ....more often than not, yes.

    It all depends what you want to do. If you are already a landscape contractor and don't want to close for six or seven years, you don't want to try to become a landscape architect because in most states you simply can not (2 year full time internship working for a Registered Landscape Architect, and a four or five year degree with twelve hours of class, fifteen hours of studio, and some sleepless nights doing projects each week). More people with LA degrees do not get licensed for that very reason, in my opinion. (Massachusetts has 6 million people and a very high per capita landscape company ratio, yet there are fewer than 900 currently active landscape architect licenses and many of those are people out of state that do business here)

    I hope this is read, by those still awake, as an in depth overview that is based on first hand knowledge and experience and notassumption. I don't want to persuade anyone into taking this on or not. I just want to present an overview on what exactly a Landscape Architect is.

Share This Page