What is the Difference Between a Landscape Contractor and a Landscape Architect?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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A landscape contractor and a landscape architect have very different education, tasks, and job expectations. It is important to know the difference in order to ensure that you are hiring the right resources for your landscape project. Landscaping is a combination of science and art. It is used to create an outdoor space that is sustainable, renewable, and enjoyable.

The role of both the architect and the contractor are critical for the creation of a successful landscape. Special training is required for each role, and they work together to transform a plan into reality. A well-designed and executive landscape is inviting, easy to maintain and creates a comfortable atmosphere.

A landscape contractor is the person responsible for the physical work of landscaping. These contractors create the suitable ground conditions, install plants and shrubs, and recommend stones and gravel. All these items must be suitable for the location and intended use.

In order to become a landscape contractor, you need to take a post-secondary education program in landscaping. This type of program is typically one to two years in length. The courses required include studies of soil, native plants, water drainage, and long-term plant health. Additional courses are required to obtain certification in the operation of construction equipment. Landscape contractors often use this type of equipment.


Most successful landscape contractors started as a landscape technician. After five to ten years of experience, they have sufficient knowledge to start their own business. There are two types of clients for landscape contractors: private residences and corporate clients.

Private homes that require a landscape contractor can have large estates or standard size backyards. Expertise is required to create the plan, plant large trees, and properly landscape the available area. Corporate clients include homebuilders and business institutions. These types of clients typically sign an annual service contract for the implementation and maintenance of a landscape design. Image and assurances of sustainability are critical for these clients.

A landscape architecture is the designer of a garden or lawn. They are responsible for creating the plans to accommodate different elevations, planned usage, climate, and drainage. As part of their plans, they forecast how the landscape would look in the future and select materials that will be in keeping with the design.

Landscape architects typically open their own private practice and provide expertise on a contract basis. They often prepare and submit proposals to large architectural firms for landscaping on both commercial and residential developments. Local governments often hire landscape architects to assist with proposals for new roads, parks, and civic spaces.


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