Landscape Architecture, Defined

The national trade association American Society of Landscape Architects defines landscape architecture as the art and practice of designing the outdoor environment, especially as pertains to parks and gardens, coupled with buildings and roads.”

Though this field can extend to the crafting of campuses and streetscapes, trails and plazas, residential landscape design remains the largest market sector within the industry, with its professionals responsible for the analysis, plan, design, management and subsequent nurturing of both the built and natural environments.

A Field of Experts

Those who pursue a career in landscape architecture are educated in everything from site design and historic preservation to horticulture and environmental science. This extensive background makes these practitioners particularly well-suited for the tasks at hand. These include protecting natural resources, and well as sustainably managing the land surrounding a home or commercial property.

Landscape architecture is regulated by state licensure requirements, and typically requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree within the field, along with the completion of an extensive, four-part national licensing examination. In many cases, a graduate degree is recommended as well, to further pursue the nuances of this well-respected hybrid, melding both art and science in the beautification of the great outdoors.


Residential landscape design remains the largest market sector within the industry.

Grids & Guidelines

While each project brings with it a unique template, void of any set structure, there are several basic rules of landscape architecture that tend to apply to the majority of jobs. Design is heavily dependent on proportion and perspective, necessitating guides to generate lines—oftentimes, of the imaginary sort—serving to help connect and organize what may begin as a somewhat abstract concept.

Along these, plantings are typically according to scale—big to small—beginning with the larger trees, moving on to smaller shrubs, and finishing with perennials, then ground cover. Individual preferences regarding style and structure obviously come into play, though it is important all are planted at an adequate height, in a sufficiently-sized hole, to encourage longevity.

Creative Pursuits

Those employed as landscape architects are well-schooled in blending their vision with the scientific principles and artistic flair necessary for success in the field. By utilizing both manmade structures and natural environments, they construct concepts based upon on-site property assessments, hand-drawn designs, and information gathered on everything from soil type and pre-existing vegetation to size and shape of the land.

Most work as part of a team, though there may be one landscape design manager who oversees the entire process and offers guidance, and expertise, to the crew. Communication is key, both from the client to the landscape architect, right on down the pipeline as the process gets underway and the dream installation becomes a reality.


If you’re in the market for a landscape design project, contact Dodds & Eder to request an on-site consultation.