As similar as you believe the two roles are, Landscape Design and Landscape Architecture, in reality, are quite different. The only commonality between the two is Landscape which again is a no-brainer. Many of us continue to fail to differentiate, thinking they more or less fit the same job profile. While there are some definite similarities, there are essential differences between the two. Both are needed to create an outdoor space that is inspiring and compliments the built environment. Landscape Architects and Landscape Designers have similar but distinct roles and responsibilities in bringing your designs to reality. To understand these subtle divergent qualities, let us first understand their roles.

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The difference between the roles of Landscape Designers and Landscape Architects

One of the main differences is the scope of work each is responsible for. 

Landscape Designers generally work on small-scale transactional projects, mainly residential, which does not involve large-scale grading and drainage requirements. Their primary responsibility is to create attractive and aesthetically pleasing outdoors that look beautiful alongside specific design elements. They do not need a degree or a certificate to practice legally.

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Their responsibilities may include :

  • Recommending plants based on your preferences.
  • Account for things like the amount of garden maintenance and lawn care you are willing to provide.
  • Accompany you to local nurseries while recommending suitable plants and vegetation.

They need to have extensive knowledge in :

  • Horticulture 
  • Identifying existing plants and trees on site
  • Design, conceptualization, and presentation

On the other hand, a Landscape Architect is responsible for the planning and designing of large-scale complex outdoor spaces. They are specifically trained to design public parks, gardens, plazas, resorts, campuses, malls, and many more. Their profession demands them to design and create safe public spaces that consider the nature of the surrounding built environment. Their work also involves working with municipalities for commercial and industrial work. This career requires a bachelor’s degree, though a master’s offers more specialized knowledge.

Their responsibilities may include :

  • Grading and drainage of the site
  • Identifying and overcoming environmental issues
  • Professional practice
  • Complying with local laws and building permits
  • Landscape conservation and restoration

Apart from being a horticulture expert, they also need to have extensive knowledge in :

  • Construction of walkways and pathways 
  • Construction of retaining walls
  • Construction of water bodies (waterfalls and ponds)

Now let us take a glimpse into some of the works of renowned Landscape Architects and Designers, as it is the easiest way to understand their scope of work.

Landscape Architects that have redefined the nature of their field :

Roberto Burle Marx:
The Copacabana Beach Promenade_©

Widely known as the man who elevated Landscape to Art, Roberto Burle Marx revolutionized the garden aesthetic. His interest in painting, sculpture, graphic design and mosaic has made him inevitably one of the most romanticized artists ever to walk this planet. The Copacabana Beach Promenade, a 4km long mosaic sidewalk, is one of his most significant works. Like a giant abstract painting, this landscape feature is one of the most identifiable public spaces designed by a pure Modernist.

Charles Jencks:

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The Garden of Cosmic Speculation_©

As a famous land artist with an avid interest in cosmology, Charles Jencks’s projects often leaves the viewer in a contemplative spiritual state. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a 30-acre sculpture garden inspired by the themes of black holes and fractals. Along with many human-made lakes, steel is integrated to produce a firm and long-lasting effect on the various sculptures that house plants and other small vegetation.

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Kathryn Gustafson:

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain_©

Known to have possessed the power to make her designs move, Kathryn Gustafson is one of America’s leading Landscape Architects. The subtle organic qualities of her designs are easily recognizable in her Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Integrated into the natural slope of the site in London’s Hyde Park, the fountain was designed to radiate energy and be the embodiment of the beautiful princess herself. The design uses the topography to divert the flowing water downhill in two different streams to form a still, meditative basin with detailed grooves and channels.

Landscape Designers that have redefined the nature of their field

Madison Cox:
Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech_©

The American garden designer is a legend in the making who believes gardens should look like the inevitable. His choice of vegetation is local and rarely exotic. He groups them in abundant patterns around striking colours, creating a jungle of oasis for his residents. He does not shy away from bold colours in his outdoor elements and leads the way to harmony and cosiness with plants and contrasting patterned water bodies.

Louis Benech:

France’s most revered landscape designer humbly calls himself a Gardner. Known to use native plants and vegetation, Louis Benech brings in the ability to create contrasting gardens with the play of plants themselves. By planting a mix of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and grasses, his gardens transform themselves into different shades of yellow and orange over the changing seasons.  

Piet Oudolf:

Private garden designed by Oudolf__©

Piet Oudolf started a movement against seasonal flowers. To create his wild-looking Wuthering Heights meadows, he groups herbaceous perennials with grasses that were often termed as weeds by onlookers. He focuses more on the structural characteristics of the plant rather than the seasonal colour to convey their intermingled nature with the wild. His designs have a non-human touch, making them remarkably real and natural. 


A student of Architecture who lives by the word nostalgia and enjoys taking black and white photographs. Her style of writing is unconventional and often romanticised. She believes Architecture has the power to heal and adores anyone who listens to Radiohead.