Becoming a landscape designer?

I have a love of plants, an unwanted law degree, a desire to work as a landscape designer, but no real or proffesional experience in landscaping. Should I consider more schooling or trying to get a job at a nursey, if possible? I more school is the answer, what degree?

7 Comments on “Becoming a landscape designer?

  1. I’d first go to your local technical school or high school depending on your area and take a course in landscape design. Usually they offer adult education classes at a reasonable price and this will let you ‘get your feet wet’ to see if you enjoy it after you’ve tried it. Then go to an Agricultural college — Many state schools have these- and get a degree in Horticulture with your specialization in landscape architecture. Some business courses will help also.

    Work at a nursery or garden center in the busy season to or as a laborer for a landscape company for the experience while you go to school. Best of luck!

  2. I cannot believe that you’d give up law for a profession that pays so little.

  3. First of all, please realize that I am never going to become wealthy working as a landscape designer. Having said that, I love what I do! I worked for a credit card company and at this point in my life could be making three times what I am making now, but I hated it. I also managed a restaurant….again I could be making a lot more there than I am now, but I hated that too. I love what I do and I’m pretty good at it too.

    I have only taken two or three classes in landscape design. I have read all the magazines (Horticulture and Fine Gardening are great) and have bought hundreds of $ worth of books on the subject. I also have been working in a garden center for the past ten years (6 or seven years of that have been doing landscape design). I do not get to do a lot of design work these days….I’m the buyer for the garden center that I work for….but in the very slow season I still get out and work as a designer. Here are a few of my favorite books. The Well-Designed Mixed Garden by Tacy DiSabato-Aust; Grasses by Nancy J. Ondra; Perennial Combinations by C. Colston Burrell; The Undaunted Garden by Lauren Springer; A Garden in the Shade by Harriet L. Cramer; The Book of Garden Design by John Brookes; The American Horticultural Society A-Z Garden Plants.

    Good luck.

  4. We spend 1/3 of our life asleep, 1/3 of our life at work, and 1/3 for all the rest. I say enjoy your work. Start now! 🙂

    I have been in the green industry thirty five years and have done a lot of different jobs. Good news for you is that it is not hard to get a job in the plant business since everybody hires at least some brand new people every year. What may be hard is the starting pay can be low. But if you are any good there is great opportunity to move up.

    If your interest is in design only I would suggest you go to a horticultural school. The degree is Landscape Architect and you need 1 to get into a professional architecture firm. I have no idea how competitive that is. I do not know where you are but 2 Universities that are well known for their horticultural departments are MI State University and OH State University. Of course there are others.

    If you just want to go to work somewhere, and start ‘designing’ right away, you can find people to take your advice if you have good ideas; but to be a good designer, I think you need some school.

    Learn some things about solving site problems with plantings. Learn what plants grow well, in what places since that is ninety percent of the battle. Work at a plant production nursery or retail garden center to improve your knowledge of plants. Know what plants are readily available in the trade. The complaint of the people in the business that are implementing the designs put out by the LA’s are that sometimes that the plants that are specified are so obscure or difficult to produce commercially that it is impossible to find them to plant them in the job.

    Many garden centers have landscaping departments that can provide you with some practical landscaping experience in the hands-on area. Expect to work hard as margins are tight. Be aware that the level of knowledge and professionalism in the industry can vary widely from firm to firm.

    Best of luck to you. It’s an awesome business, some of the best people you will ever meet.

  5. I do not think a nursery job is the right place to learn. I think hands on landscape maintenance is the way to go. I had a maintenance company for almost twenty years and repeatedly saw terrible designs from people just out of collage. They may have had a degree, but had no experience with plants and maintenance. Their poor designs reflected this lack of experience.

  6. directly go for landscape architecture degree…u can after that work in nursery, ur own firm..or your own plant and design business…don’t directly go get a job at nursery…it is not worth it..used your unwanted degree as a ticket to get a second degree in a shorter term..

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