What Subjects Are Needed For Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture is an ever-evolving profession, combining science, design and technical skills to craft responsibly managed and beautiful outdoor areas for people and wildlife to enjoy. A landscape architect might be in charge of creating a residential neighborhood, parks and gardens, urban plazas and more. Knowing which subjects are necessary for a successful career in this field is important for those interested in pursing this profession.

Fundamental elements of landscape architecture include soils and hydrology, climate, ecology and plant science, as well as an understanding of human behavior and history. A landscape architect should also be skilled in economics and financial management, as these are critical tools in the design and management of projects. Professional skills such as leadership and communication proficiency are necessary to be successful.

Having technical expertise in the language of design is essential, helping a landscape architect create plans, drawings and landscape projects. Using computer aided design (CAD) software to create 3-D models and plans is part of the process and understanding the latest technology gives landscape architects an edge over others in their field. Technical writing skills are also important as one is often required to write reports and grant applications when seeking funding.

The planning that is required in becoming a landscape architect can involve meetings with land developers to understand their goals, working on large-scale projects and urban planning to negotiate city regulations and laws, so knowledge in these areas is an added benefit. In addition, a familiarity with wall systems such as retaining walls, stone steps, stone accent and curbing, is also needed to create the design elements for a project.

A surge of interest in protecting the environment has led to the development of new and exciting options in landscape design, such as renewable energy sources and low-impact construction and development. Employers also want graduates who come with knowledge of permitting and zoning regulations, as well as understanding of landscaping and land use.

GIS Technology

The Geographic Information System (GIS) is an important asset in landscape architecture. GIS technology enables designers to develop complex maps that identify how different elements of a structure or a project can interact with each other. GIS can be used to identify and evaluate potential sites, develop building simulations, and track the progress of construction projects.

GIS can also be utilized to understand the effects of landscaping designs on the environment, as well as model costs and estimates for projects. This technology provides a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between environment and design, and supports the creation of functional and sustainable projects.

Design Principles

The aesthetics of landscape design are just as important as its technical elements, so knowledge of elements such as textures, line, forms, voids, and conceptual and visual dimensions is beneficial in this field. Understanding of color, space and light along with a sense for spatial design, architecture, and art helps to bring uniqueness to a design.

It is important for a landscape architect to be knowledgeable of design principles such as balance, contrast, emphasis, rhythm and unity to create and build aesthetically pleasing landscapes that are both functional and visually appealing. This is achieved by organizing the plants, buildings and other components of the project in a way that is aesthetically pleasing but also conveys the designers intent.

Landscape Construction

In order to bring the design of the landscape to life, technical knowledge of landscape construction is essential. This includes knowing how to estimate the amount of materials and resources needed, the type and size of heavy equipment to use, and the labor needed to complete the project. Knowing the type of plants and other materials that should be used to create the desired effect is also essential.

In addition, an understanding of construction processes such as erosion and sediment control, soil remediation, and drainage systems will benefit any aspiring landscape architect. This knowledge allows an architect to identify potential problems during the construction phase and make necessary changes to the design in order to create a successful project.

Environmental Considerations

Knowing the environmental considerations of a project is also important for landscape architecture projects. This can include seed collection for native plants, land preservation and restoration, installation of rain gardens, green roofs, and other strategies for managing storm water runoff.

Creating green space in urban areas also helps to reduce air and noise pollution, protect soil from erosion, and provide habitat for many species of wildlife. It is important that landscape architects understand the impact of their designs on the environment and develop projects that are environmentally conscious.

Economic Implications

Creating a successful project requires an understanding of the economic implications. These include the costs of materials, labor, maintenance, and other related costs. Keeping these costs low while still delivering a quality product is essential for a successful project.

Also, landscape architects need to be aware of economic trends in the industry, such as the cost of living, labor costs, and other economic factors that could affect their projects. Understanding the economic implications of a project helps landscape architects make informed decisions and keep the project within budget.

Risk Management

Risk management is also necessary for projects. The ability to identify potential risks before they occur and plan accordingly can help minimize the impact of any unforeseen issues. This includes evaluating the potential risks associated with materials, legal liability, construction equipment, labor, and weather conditions.

Developing plans for managing project delays, budget overruns, and safety hazards is necessary in order to ensure the success of a project. Knowing how to manage these risks, as well as having an understanding of the legalities involved with a project, is essential knowledge for landscape architects.


In conclusion, having a good working knowledge of the fundamentals of landscape architecture, design principles, environmental considerations, economic implications, and risk management is essential for those interested in pursuing this profession. A solid educational background is also important, as it includes the necessary technical expertise and skills needed to be successful in the field.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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