A landscape architect is someone who practices landscape architecture, a field which involves integrating natural environments and man-made projects. Depending on the nation, education and licensing requirements for a landscape architect vary, and most people prefer to work with landscape architects who have completed internships with experienced professionals in the field. A landscape architect is not a landscaper or gardener; this field is extremely complex and it requires a wide skill set.
On a new project, a landscape architect works with a team to determine where buildings should be located, how roadways and paths should be laid out, and how lines for drainage and utilities should be laid. The landscape architect also thinks about the shaping of the land, and what sort of plants and other features to add to the project. Ideally, a landscape architect contributes to the project in a way which seamlessly integrates the finished project with the surrounding landscape.
These professionals can also be consulted to work with people who already have mature landscapes or finished structures. In this case, a landscape architect might help to lay out an addition to a home, or a radical change in the landscaping surrounding a business. He or she may also be consulted to deal with problems like poor drainage or accessibility issues for the differently abled. In some cases, a landscape architect may be required before a permitting agency will sign off on a project which could potentially have a major impact on the surrounding landscape.
Typically, a landscape architect must have at least a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture, along with internship experience. While in school, he or she will learn about structural engineering, landscaping, prevailing building codes, and ways to lay out needed features like drainage and access paths in a smooth and pleasant way. At the end of his or her training, the landscape architect will be able to work with a property to make it functional and hopefully beautiful as well.
People who are interested in this field should be prepared for long work days and exposure to the elements. Landscape architects sometimes also need to pass various licensing exams, and they may be required to keep up with advances in the field. Some landscape architects also like to specialize in a specific branch of their field, like environmentally sustainable design or designing for large structures such as apartment complexes and office projects. Others like to focus on landscape architecture for parks and other urban landscaping features which focus on bringing the natural environment to people who may not have access to wilderness areas and other large natural expanses.