How to become a Landscape Designer in Australia
Landscape Designers are horticulture specialists who use their creative and technical ability to conceptualise and create functional, beautiful and sustainable outdoor spaces. Utilising CAD software, a Landscape Designer plans layouts for residential gardens, parks and public recreation areas; detailing the use and location of chosen plant species, walkways, terraces and water features. They design landscapes to fulfil their clients’ needs and make the best use of the terrain, taking into account local climate, exposure to the sun, soil quality, drainage and water use.
In addition to planning the layout and choosing the plant species, building materials and water features; a Landscape Designer will contract builders and landscapers to carry out much of the construction. They will oversee the entirety of the project to ensure a satisfactory result, and are often directly involved in many aspects such as planting, fertilising and irrigation.
If you want to put your love of nature and your creative flair to work designing beautiful gardens and landscapes, here are some of the steps you’ll need to take to become a Landscape Designer.
Step 1: Become familiar with the fundamentals.
In order to give yourself a headstart, it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with some of the basic design fundamentals. There are many online resources that can teach you the principles of colour theory, texture and layout as well as how to apply them. Another thing you should start doing is simply looking at as many different landscape designs as you can, get onto Pinterest and Instagram and start collecting pictures of gardens and designs that you like, then analyse them to see what you like about them and how the design principles have been applied.
Step 2: Study Horticulture.
While there are lots of things that you can learn through simple research, completing a course in horticulture is essential to success as a Landscape Designer. These courses will give you an understanding of plant species, environment and ecology that are invaluable when designing a healthy and sustainable garden. On top of this, you can learn about irrigation, pest and weed management, permaculture and many other useful topics that you may not come across if you are self-taught.
Step 3: Start networking, volunteering and practicing.
Now that you are armed with some of the knowledge you will need, start building a network of people in the industry, offer to help out on projects and make an impression. The more people you can meet, the more chances you will find some work. Another great thing you can do to gain experience and exposure is to enter student-level garden competitions. These contests are an excellent way to showcase your talents and play around with some of the skills you have learned, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Also, make sure to photograph everything you do to start building your portfolio.
Step 4: Compete and promote your work.
Once you have a few designs under your belt, it’s time to put yourself out there. These days, if you don’t have an online presence then you are basically invisible, so build yourself a website and fill it with as much of your work as you can, make sure you are posting images of your work on Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms and use your profile to connect with other landscape designers and architects to continue expanding your network. It is also recommended that you continue to compete in garden design contests as this will increase your exposure and allow you to express and refine your creativity freely.
What does a Landscape Designer do?
Landscape Designers combine horticultural knowledge, technical abilities and design expertise to create functional, aesthetically pleasing outdoor spaces of various scale. They design layouts for residential gardens, public parks, playgrounds and many other commercial spaces. A Landscape Designer creates technical drawings detailing the location and species of plants to be used, as well as other design elements such as water features, pathways, retaining walls, and paved areas. They select plant types based on climate, soil quality and other factors as well as choosing building materials and finishes to complement the overall feel of the space.
A Landscape Designer will liaise with contracted builders and other professionals employed to carry out construction, irrigation and other specialised tasks. They act as a project manager to ensure the successful execution of their design to the client's satisfaction.
- Assessing potential sites to determine climate, soil type, sun exposure etc.
- Creating functional, aesthetically pleasing designs.
- Using CAD software to produce detailed garden designs.
- Selecting appropriate plant species based on clients’ needs and site characteristics.
- Choosing building materials and finishes to complement plants and landscape.
- Liaising with contractors to ensure accurate and timely completion.
- Project management.
Skills for Success
A Landscape Designer needs to be very creative and practical, with great imagination and spatial perception. They must be able to look at an existing, three-dimensional space and imagine the possibilities of what it could become. Landscape Designers must have extensive knowledge of horticulture and a love of nature and the outdoors. This knowledge enables them to design landscapes that are more sustainable and sensitive to their surrounding ecology.
To be a successful Landscape Designer you will need reasonable technical abilities, good problem-solving skills and great attention to detail. You will also need excellent communication skills, as you will be dealing not only with clients but also contractors to whom you will need to accurately convey your designs.
- Creativity and imagination.
- Love and appreciation for nature.
- Attention to detail.
- Strong design skills.
- Extensive knowledge of horticulture.
- Good spatial perception.
- Practical problem solving ability.
- Great communication skills.