Landscape architects or technologists design outdoor spaces to make them functional and attractive. These spaces may range in size from small privately owned gardens to city squares and parks. Landscape architects are artists whose living canvas is the environment.
Landscape architects survey the site, studying the geography of the project site, examining the slope of the land, the trees present and the distribution of shade and sun. The requirements are discussed with the clients. Preliminary plans and budgets are then drawn up after consultation with engineers, project architects, horticulturists and municipal officials.
After plans have been approved, final drawings are prepared showing both the existing and proposed features. Lists are drawn up of all the materials needed. Finally, contractors are invited to submit tenders for carrying out the work. Depending on the scale of the project, earth-moving equipment may be used for the landscaping. Some typical tasks include writing reports, using computer-aided design, producing contracts and estimated costs, presenting proposals to clients, overseeing projects as they progress and liaising with other professionals such as civil engineers.
Landscape architects may specialise in certain types of projects such as parks and playgrounds, or in services such as regional planning or site construction.
Landscape contractors normally undertake actual construction work, with landscape architects or landscape designers retaining responsibility for overseeing building work and monitoring progress. Landscape architects normally work in an office and travel to sites as needed. They may also work on projects overseas.
Landscape architects need to know about the soil, weather and climatic conditions and be able to choose vegetation, which, if not endemic to a specific area, is able to flourish there.
Today sustainable gardens are popular and landscapers make use of water-wise indigenous plants, for example, rather than thirsty exotics.
They work indoors, in their own offices, as well as outdoors, on project sites.
Key skills are good verbal and written communication and negotiation, excellent technical skills, drawing and IT skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design, creativity and imagination.
• architectural, landscape architectural and engineering firms
• Departments of Water Affairs & Forestry, Public Works and Regional & Land Affairs
• urban planning firms
• landscape contractors
• municipalities and provincial administrations
• self-employment, in private practice, with enough experience, initiative and capital, can start their own business