Opinions needed...Planning, College & Industry

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JROD, Mar 19, 2005.

  1. JROD

    JROD LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I'm sorry if this comes up a lot but I honestly am very confused about what to do and cannot get any good advice from any of the colleges or anybody else that I talk to. I am trying to make a plan for college and trying to figure out what I would like to do with my life.

    I have found two college programs at a state university that i am interested in. What I would like to do is own a landscaping company that does both design and contracting. I do not want to go into lawn care. The two programs are:

    1)Ornamental Horticulture
    2)Landscape Design

    More information about the majors can be found at: http://aghort.nmsu.edu/Degree/degree.htm#hort

    Another question I have is what kind of earnings does that average landscape business owner make? I know this is going to be different between every person on here but I just think its important to have an idea or what can be made.

    Some people also tell me that I should look into a major that is more broad such as Business. What are your opinions about this?

    My final question is, I also saw another major that relates to this industry that interests me. It is Golf, Sports, and General Turfgrass Management. It is where you build, maintain, and manage these types of areas. Does anybody have any information about this major?

    Thanks much,
  2. MarcusLndscp

    MarcusLndscp LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 634

    Well, if you want nothing to do w/ lawn care then I would say forget about your Golf, Sports, and Turf Management.
    As far as design and horticulture......our program involved both. In my opinion to excell at design you need to have a very good understanding of horticulture and the practices it involves. Is there a way to incorporate both studies into your curriculum? If there was one thing I wish I had more schooling and focus on in college it would be business. It's a whole separate beast in itself. Being a small business owner in the landscape industry really requires a good knowledge of a lot of different topics
  3. kerdog

    kerdog LawnSite Member
    Messages: 129

    Hey JROD------

    You might look at what your State requires for licensing. That could have a bearing, on helping you decide. You could also do some searching on the internet for salary (income) ranges for your state. There should be some statistics, usually compiled by the state.

    I agree with MarcusLndscp, the two complement each other. Both are five year programs at one college in Texas. I see a landscape architect, as being one who would be involved with (or capable of) designs on a larger scale; i.e. master neighborhoods, parks and recreation, malls, etc. Although, not limited to that. But after spending five years in college, not to mention expenses, you don't want to be doing landscape designs for residential, do you? I take it that you were going after a degree. If offered as a two year program, and no degree, then....that's another thing.

    Knowing horticulture, though, I think would be great for doing landscaping. Think about being a grower (nursery). You could specialize in particular plants, or trees, etc. for your state. You could take some basic design classes, if needed, along with some basic business, too. Big decision....

    Good Luck, see ya------
  4. oakfront

    oakfront LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    It really depends on the type of business you want to operate. If you want a design/build firm then choose option 2 (landscape design). This program should teach you design principles and graphic skills which can separate you from your competition and prepare your business for the future. I have degree in Landscape Architecture and started a business very similar to the one you wish to start. We offer design services for commercial and residential customers and then we do the installation work. After the first couple of years my business was doing ok, but i wanted it to grow and be more prosperous. We have now expanded our business to include Bomanite stamped concrete and poured ICF foundations including all excavation work. I was able to diversify and expand my business, due in large part, to the education I received in college. It was important for my business to diversify beyond landscape installation and maintenance, due to the fact, that we operate in a state, where commercial customers are not plentiful, to say the least. So in my opinion, a design degree can provide areas of expansion for your business if necessary. Another piece of advice, take all the business classes you can stomach. Good luck.
  5. JROD

    JROD LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    I'm sorry for not clarying myself about the lawn care. If I do landscaping, I don't want to do lawncare - especially residential. I see the turfgrass managment program as something different from lawn-care. Most people can open a mowing business but knowing the science of turfgrass is more specialized. I also enjoy the sporting and recreational areas such as golf courses, stadiums and parks as more exciting than either commercial or residential work.

    Yes, I want to get a degree and not just a two-year program. I am currently a sophomore and have already finished around 40 hours of credits. I got kind of bummed out but figure I only have two to three years left, so I might as well finish in something. I am going to take business classes but I just don't feel this is the area I should major in. It is way to broad of a category and I want to major in something more specialized. I just think of it in the way as how is a business major going to help me with landscaping besides the business side.

    The programs integrate horticulture into both areas. You have to have prerequisites in horticulture, in order to move onto ornamental horticulture or landscape design. That way you have skills and understanding in both areas.
  6. PowerPlay

    PowerPlay LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    I have a degree in Agronomy with a concentration in Turf Management. If I was going to do it over again, I would go with a general Horticulture degree. I thought that I wanted to manage golf courses until I did it for a couple summers. I would stay away from the turf programs unless you really want to go into Golf Course or Athletic Field Management. Those types of jobs are rather monotonous to me. You just manage the same area of turf every day. Some people like that though. Are you creative? Do you like to work with different people (the public)? Do you like to design things? These are the things to think about. I would say still go with the hort even if you are undecided. More flexibility and you could easily transition into the turf stuff from hort if you decided that is what you really like.

    Make sure you take some business courses whatever you do. They are extremely valuable. Knowing how to run a business will make you more successful than all the technical knowledge that you learn in school. Know how to manage people and sell. You do not have to be the best landscape designer in the world to be very successful. It just depends on what you really like to do. It took me a while to figure it out, so if I can help you any more let me know.
  7. JROD

    JROD LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Good information!

    I don't think I would like the repetive process in the turfgrass managment programs. I would like to offer a variety of services but would also like to offer things that other companies are not offering. I have always enjoyed designing things. My family owns a screen printing, embroidery, sign shop and promotional products company and I have always created the artwork and many of the logos for customers. I really like seeing a high quality product that I helped create. If I wanted to i'm in the postion to take over their company in a couple of years. While it is a good business and already established, it is not my passion.

    I have always been a problem-solver and liked to build, design, and create things. I also have always wanted to own my own business because I know of the potential out there. As an entrepreneur, nobody is going to tell me how big or how much money I can make but if your employed, there is some point that you are going to max yourself out most of the time.

    I agree w/ you about the business classes. I just don't want this to be my main focus. I don't want to sound cocky in any way but I feel very confident about my business skills. I manage/own the screen printing business in my family and this has helped me realize what it is really like to own your own business. I know that taking as many classes as I can will help me get the upper hand in running a business and will also make things less stressful.
  8. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    If it was just a "hort" program, I'd say go for landscape design. But that one program is "ornmental" horticulture. Also, it's likely you could take one full program and a few extra classes in another.

    If I had to start all over again:

    <marquee>I'd have gone for the more refined aspects of forestry</marquee>
  9. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    If you want a typical residential landscape design/build company, I would suggest majoring in a landscape design program that is horticulture based (in a college of Ag or Science) vs. an Architecture based program (in a college of Arts & Science). I would also recommend minoring in business.

    A horticulture program on its own may tend to spend more time on propogation, pest management, genetics, and research type topics that are helpful, but less bang for the buck than a lighter coverage of science with more broad based subjects including design. This is especially if you do not expect to make maintenance management a big priority.

    A college program is not going to show you how to DO landscape work, so experience going into it and through the summers atre crucial. Getting experience in building landscapes for someone else after your degree is a little difficult for a few reasons. One is that an owner with little education is not going to want you questioning his methods and you might not be viewed as a "working guy". Usually, landscapers are looking for brawn not brains.
  10. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    take the landscape design major at a college of ag. I'm in the agronomy section at uconn, several of my buddies are in the hort. end of it. we take a lot of the same classes, i just have more turf.

    If i could do it again i would go with the design end. Here at uconn they stress learning the plants requirements before designing. this way you can create a solid design that not only looks good but will survive. aka "right plant right place"

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