You want to remodel your yard but haven't the slightest clue who to hire to get the job done. With three different types of landscaping jobs, most people get confused on what distinguishes a landscape designer from a landscape architect or a landscaper. They all share some similarities in their areas of knowledge and experience, but they also vary in their roles. Who you hire depends on the size and complexity of your project.

Imagine a sleek in-ground infinity pool surrounded on all four sides by luscious tropical greenery. Around the perimeter of the pool is a red-bricked patio, Italian cypress trees, and Bohemian umbrellas. gazebo stands in the backdrop with its breezy white curtains and chic orange cushions. Hello, backyard of your dreams! You have an image in mind, but now what? You know you can't do this on your own and will need someone to do the job, but who ya gonna call?

It can be complicated when first learning that there are so many different types of professionals within the landscaping industry and then trying to determine which one you need. Let's first lay out some landscaping jargon and clarify a couple common misconceptions. You've probably heard of landscape designers, landscape architects, and landscapers before. Believe it or not, these are three separate jobs. The differences between the roles are spelled out below.

Landscape Designers

Let's start off with landscape designers. These are people who provide design plans for small scale projects. They typically work on residential or private projects like lawns, gardens, and decks. Unlike landscape architects, landscape designers do not need to meet any formal training or education requirements. In some states, a person can still call themselves a landscape designer despite having no prior experience in the landscape or design industry. Thus, it is important to look into their backgrounds of your potential landscape professional and see their portfolio and previous clients' reviews. You'll find that qualified landscape designers will have had many years of field experience. Often, many will have also completed formal training from technical colleges and received degrees in fields like horticulture and landscape design.

During your first meeting, your landscape designer will meet with you to discuss your goals, taking note of any specific needs or spatial requirements. For example, your landscape designer is responsible for learning what permits may be required and obtaining them from city organizations in order for them to begin their work. Sometimes, there are old buildings or trees on the site that need to be removed to make room for your new design. The designer must then research how to do so without violating any city ordinances. As they begin selecting plants and other features for the space, they need to make decisions about purchases and be able to predict costs and plan for unforeseeable issues - all while keeping in mind the constraints of your budget. Afterwards, they will propose a layout plan and provide a quote. If their plan matches your vision and budget, they then can move forward with outlining more specifics.

Landscape Architects

Landscape designers are often confused with landscape architects, who must be licensed in the states where they work. In order to be licensed, they must have first completed a formal training program or an equivalent work experience in landscape architecture and then passed an exam. You'll find that most architects also have a bachelor's or master's degree in these fields. These professionals usually work on larger scale projects, which include public outdoor spaces such as parks, campuses, resorts, and commercial centers. Some architects choose to work on small residential projects as well. While they differ from landscape designers in their scope of work, the costs of hiring either one are similar. Their hourly rates both tend to fall between $19.50-$55 an hour. In terms of designing their plan, they are similar to landscape designers in their process of meeting with clients and then developing site plans, specifications, and cost estimates.


Lastly, landscapers, also known as landscape contractors, are the ones who carry out the blueprint of the landscape designer or architect. They are responsible for building and installing the hardscape and softscape for these outdoor spaces. Their roles may consist of mowing the lawn, planting new trees, replacing existing plants, starting new plant beds, and installing lawn furniture.

As the physical builders of your project, they must work closely with and take direction from the landscape designer or architect. There must be good coordination between you and all three parties involved in terms of scope of work, projected timeline of the project, and budgeting - otherwise you may be the one getting hit with unexpected additional costs.

A landscape design-build company employs professionals to create a landscape plan for your yard and then to execute that plan. These companies can provide a seamless transition between the design and construction phases of the project. Sometimes landscape contractors may actually also be landscape architects or designers. They may be licensed and experienced in both fields, which could save you the trouble of having to hire two separate people. This means that the person who has already worked with you closely as your designer or architect can now install his self-designed blueprint.