If you've ever walked through a picture-perfect garden or outdoor space attached to a residential or commercial building, most likely, it's the work of a landscape architect or designer. Just as architects and interior designers are responsible for designing and creating the exterior structure and the interiors of a house or office, a landscape architect's role is to plan and execute the outdoor spaces, while trying to balance aesthetic, functional and ecological factors. Their job begins with meeting the clients to understand their requirements from the project. Based on this, they prepare the site plans and work out the cost estimate for the client's approval. They may even create graphic images of the proposed project using CADD software.
Additionally, once the client approves a plan, the landscape designer takes on the responsibility of identifying the materials and plants that are best suited for the design. Usually, he makes the selection after considering the quality of the soil and other environmental factors, such as the slope of the land, which affects drainage. Additionally, he will select the lighting that is ideal for the landscape design project. After this, the professional will supervise the execution of the project to ensure that every aspect works out according to plan.
Before qualifying to practise his profession, a landscape architect needs to study and get a certification. Usually, a professional requires a degree or a masters' in landscape architecture before he is eligible to start a career in the field. Additionally, like architects, they may need to renew their license periodically or register with a professional body that governs their line of work. Therefore, before hiring a landscape architect, it's advisable to verify their educational qualifications and certification.
Unlike in architecture and design, where the two significant aspects are beauty and functionality, landscape architecture has a third dimension, namely ecology. Therefore, a professionally qualified landscape architect will have the technical knowledge and expertise to handle everything from structural and civil engineering aspects of the project to design, conservation and environmental features. Their skill also extends to horticultural details such as choosing the ideal plants for a specific environment. On the other hand, a landscape designer looks after just the aesthetic elements to make the area look beautiful.
A landscape designer usually deals with just the aesthetics of the project. Therefore, he may not be suitable for a complicated landscaping project that requires structural expertise such as deciding the grading of slopes or the placement of drainage to prevent the outdoor area from flooding. Quite often, freelance design professionals who offer landscape design services are either designers or horticulturists. Based on the nature of the project, a homeowner needs to take a call on whether to hire a landscape architect, a designer or a horticulturist.
A well-executed landscape project looks at several aspects such as the homeowner's needs, the gradation of the land and the budget, among other things. In general, the following are the points to consider:
Most landscape designers use the following points as guidelines for a project:
Colour: Like with home interiors, the use of certain colours of foliage or flora can set a mood in an outdoor area. Designers use a mix of primary and secondary colours in the leaves and blooms to create the perfect ambience.
Proportion: The size and scale of the landscaping should match the property. For instance, trees that are too tall will make the house look small. The landscape architect will ensure that the design suits the overall look of the home and enhance its curb appeal.
Style: The style of the garden or landscape should suit the design theme of the house. A formal garden may be better suited to a classic or vintage home, whereas a Zen garden will be perfect for a modern or minimalist house.
Texture: The use of foliage with the same texture throughout the garden creates a one-dimensional feel to the area. Instead, the designer will use plants of different textures to break the monotony.
Balance: In the end, it's all about maintaining a balance, whether it's with colour, texture or mood. A professional will combine various elements to create a unified and simple look.
Most landscape architects in India charge a percentage of the project cost, which starts at 7.5% and goes up to around 20%. In some cases, especially for smaller projects, the designer may charge a flat fee, from Rs.100,000 and upwards. Sometimes, a professional may charge on a cost-per-square-feet basis.
There's no better way to verify the work quality and skills of a landscape designer than to view some of the projects they have completed. While this may not always be possible, one can always look at photographs or images of landscaping projects of a professional to get a better idea of his style. On homify, our landscape architects' directory includes images of gardens designed by the professionals listed in the category. After browsing through the photographs to identify a suitable architect or designer, you can fill and send the online form to contact the professional and get a free quote.