Most people aren’t sure what distinguishes a landscape designer from an architect—probably because both professions do similar work. If you are looking into landscaping your home or business and are wondering, “landscape designer vs landscape architect—what do I need?” This post is for you.

What is the difference between a landscape architect and a landscape designer?

From a layman’s perspective, both landscape design and landscape architecture can be used interchangeably; however, this is not the case. And while both professions can create functional and visually appealing outdoor spaces, the primary difference between a landscape designer and architect is the level of education and complexity of their projects. Landscape designers deal more with smaller, less complicated projects whereas landscape architects can work on more complex projects that may be for the public or private sector such as larger residential projects, parks, public gardens, commercial centers, and resorts. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these professions do.

What Is a Landscape Designer?

A landscape designer is a professional who concepts and designs residential exterior living spaces. They are trained in the principles of landscape design, which includes creating the right proportion, textures, shapes, and more. They come up with conceptual plans and present them to the client and often oversee the implementation of landscape projects.

While landscape designers do not need a college education, associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs are available. They may choose to obtain a landscape design degree online or even get a Landscape Design Certification.


What does a Landscape Designer Do?

If a homeowner just wants to beautify an outdoor space with softscaping (e.g., plants, flowers & shrubs) and doesn’t need drainage or grading plans, a landscape designer can help. Otherwise, a landscape architect may be needed for the project.

Landscape designers are often great communicators, project managers, and creative thinkers. A landscape designer’s work includes:

  • Breathing life into an outdoor space.
  • Beautifying a property’s outdoor environment, mostly with plants, flowers and shrubs.
  • Maintaining landscaping.
  • Use software and/or hand create drawings to demonstrate the design concept.
  • Making sure the design complies with local zoning laws and regulations.
  • Informing clients about materials, tools, plants, and other elements of the design.
  • Designing per environmentally-friendly principles.
  • Presenting designs that are not only functional and beautiful but also meet budgetary concerns.


What Is a Landscape Architect?

A landscape architect does much more than design a beautiful yard. In addition to knowing the principles of landscape design, they can also work on on-site engineering, drainage, hardscaping, and softscaping. A professional landscape architect functions as a designer, land planner, and field manager, so they need to be able to understand technical information as well as present their plans in concise, meaningful ways. Basically, if you can dream it, they can do it. Furthermore landscape architects create a landscape that is not only pleasing to the eye but also protects the environment and is built to last.

A landscape architect has a landscape architecture degree at either the bachelor’s or master’s level. They often attend colleges that are accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and have passed rigorous tests to be licensed by the state. They are typically more knowledgeable and more invested in their profession and are required to obtain 24 hours of continuing education every two years. Many of them have additional vocational training as well.

You should hire a landscape architect when you want to do more than freshen up your yard with some plants and mulch. Hire a landscape architect when you want to transform your outdoor space with:

  • Outdoor living spaces for cooking, entertaining, and more
  • Outdoor lighting
  • Fire features
  • Structures to enhance beauty and/or privacy
  • Natural stone
  • Paver paths and patios
  • Walls
  • Pools and spas
  • And, of course, plantings


What Does a Landscape Architect Do?

Landscape architects are fully qualified in the fields of technical design and planning. In addition, they are also familiar with local regulations, codes, ordinances, and they understand the relationships between architecture and landscape design. Their expertise includes:

  • Designing and planning commercial and residential outdoor living spaces.
  • Handling complex variables such as:
    • Steep slopes and/or elevation problems
    • Retaining walls over three feet high
    • Irrigation and/or drainage systems
    • Outdoor structures
    • Landscaping requiring electrical
  • Collecting and evaluating data to develop plans for demolition, development, or restoration.
  • Recommending landscaping changes to existing projects.
  • Inspecting and reviewing projects underway or completed by other professionals.
  • Examining designs from technical specifications.
  • Creating illustrations to support their landscape design work.
  • Creating scale models using CADD Technology.
  • Overseeing the construction.
  • Examining the zoning laws and building codes in their area.


Key Takeaways

  • Both landscape architecture and landscape designers meet with the clients to discuss the designs and how they will convert the design into reality.
  • They both use industry software to make the design that illustrates what the end result will be.
  • There is much less education required for a landscape designer than for a landscape architect. As a result of their academic training, landscape architects are often much better at considering complex variables when designing a landscape.
  • Landscape architects are way more than landscapers. They are “dreamscapers.”


Which do you need? Get the best of both worlds.

Aspen Outdoor Designs is a leading full-service landscape design and building company. We have a passion for creative, innovative, and unique outdoor designs that provide long-lasting quality for our clients. As landscape professionals, we work with our clients to create their vision of the ideal outdoor living space, and we don’t disappoint.

Before you hire anyone, here are some tips on how to choose a landscape design company. Also, many landscape companies claim to have landscape architects on staff. Homeowners can verify this by going to Indiana’s license verification page.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation!