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What Is Landscape Architecture?

Trees that change color are often added to improve a landscape.
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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2014
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Landscape architecture is a branch of architecture that deals with the planning and design of land and its relation to the buildings around it. While many believe that it is simply related to landscaping and plant selection, landscape architecture is actually much more involved then that. This practice blends site planning, landscaping, art, and environmental restoration to help connect an area to the buildings around it, and make the landscape attractive in itself. The goal of landscape architecture is to create pleasing, functional, and beautiful spaces that serve the needs of their owners or the public.

As the green building movement grows, landscape architecture will likely become even more critical to the building process. Trained landscape architects help lay out a piece of land, determining where structures should be placed so that they have minimal impact on the environment. The landscape architect will take into account the profile of the land, plants and wildlife, nearby water bodies, and surrounding structures to help place the new building in the most effective spot. By properly placing the building, the occupants can enjoy more views and daylight, while the wildlife and soil are disturbed as little as possible.

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With all of the responsibilities involved in landscape architecture, those wishing to pursue a job in this field will generally be required to complete an undergraduate degree or higher, depending on where they plan to work. The majority of US states and other western countries require that landscape architects are licensed. In the US, licensing is granted by The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). To apply for a license, applicants must meet the requirements for their state, which may include a bachelor's or masters degree, or a combination of education and experience.

After an architect has been licensed by CLARB, he or she is free to practice landscape architecture with a design firm, or on their own. Many landscape architects are hired by architecture firms to collaborate on projects with other designers and engineers. The landscape architect may take care of the entire civil design, including site plans, underground work, and environmental protection, or may focus simply on the landscaping and topography. They may also find jobs in real estate, with municipalities, or with park or forest services. A fairly large percentage of landscape architects also start private practices, where they offer residential design services or consultation services in the commercial sector.

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