Landscape architect: job description

Landscape architects are responsible for creating natural and built environments that are aesthetically pleasing as well as practical, in both urban and rural areas.

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Landscape architects combine artistic skills with knowledge of human activity and the natural environment.

What does a landscape architect do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Landscape architects and designers advise on, plan, design and oversee the creation, regeneration and development of external land areas such as gardens and recreational areas, as well as residential, industrial and commercial sites. Essentially, they combine artistic skills with knowledge of human activity and the natural environment – and can help to protect and conserve the environment.

Their work includes:

  • creating plans, designs and drawings using computer-aided design programs
  • surveying sites
  • advising on matters to do with environmental conservation
  • discussing requirements with clients
  • writing reports
  • producing contracts and estimated costs
  • presenting proposals to clients for approval and agreeing time-scales
  • overseeing projects as they progress
  • seeking the opinions of locals, business and others who use the site
  • liaising with other professionals such as architects, surveyors, town planners and civil engineers.

Landscape contractors normally undertake actual construction or maintenance work, with landscape architects or landscape designers retaining responsibility for the designs, overseeing the project and monitoring progress. Landscape architects normally work in an office and travel to sites as needed.

Within landscape architecture, it is possible to specialise in design, management, science, planning or urban design. Some will develop more scientific expertise in areas such as trees, water mammals or soil, for example.

Typical employers for landscape architects

  • Landscape practices
  • Construction and engineering consultancies
  • House-building companies
  • Local authorities.

Vacancies are typically advertised online via Landscape Institute and in a variety of publications including local authority jobs lists, national newspapers, Architects' Journal and Building Design as well as their respective websites. There are vacancies posted on TARGETjobs from time to time, but you may well need to network or apply speculatively for vacancies. The Landscape Institute (LI) Members' Directory (available on the LI website) can provide useful contact information for networking and speculative applications .

Qualifications and training required

You need a relevant degree accredited by the LI to become a landscape architect, which usually means completing a three-year undergraduate degree plus a one-year postgraduate diploma in landscape architecture. However, if your undergraduate degree is in another subject, you can do a postgraduate ‘conversion’ masters lasting up to two years. Some universities ask for an ‘appropriate subject’ for admission onto the conversion course, which can include subjects such as art, geography or horticulture. You’ll also likely need to submit a portfolio.

Once you are employed and have a year or two’s experience, you can work towards gaining chartership, a professional qualification, with the LI. Most employers will expect you to do this and support you while doing so.

Most landscape architecture students secure work experience or internships through applying speculatively to private landscape practices – find out how to do this .

If you are a school leaver and considering going to university to study a landscape architecture course, get advice on meeting the entry requirements at TARGETcareers.

Key skills for landscape architects

  • Artistic flair
  • An interest in the environment, life sciences and knowledge of the conditions needed for wildlife to flourish
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Good verbal and written communication
  • Negotiation and leadership ability
  • An eye for detail
  • Lateral and spatial thinking
  • Drawing and IT skills, including the ability to use computer-aided design
  • Client management skills.

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