What is a Landscape Architect?

Gary Haygood > Residential Services > What is a Landscape Architect?


Landscape Architects

Frederick Law Olmsted was the first to coin the term “Landscape Architect” after designing Central Park in New York City in 1863. Generally speaking, Landscape Architects are people who are passionate about the environment and society and how they interact with one another. They design, plan and manage our lands, and they deal with the increasingly complex relationships between the built and natural environments.

Landscape Architects work as the link between the environment,
wildlife, the population and the built environment.

Their work combines vision, art, design and science; it takes thoughtfulness and appreciation of both the existing natural elements and the man-made elements that can be built to enhance the natural elements.

Land can be used for recreation, for food, housing and amenities. Land use is critical when considering biodiversity, sustainability and conservation.

Landscape Architects work with the natural environment
and not against it, balancing natural and
man-made systems and processes.

Those in the landscape architecture field consider how we use space, what we put on the landscape, how communities are created and function, and how the landscape meets the demands of a growing population. They green our towns and cities, using natural systems to capture carbon emissions, create and enhance beautiful public spaces and parks. They conserve wildlife habitats, support the development of renewable energy projects, and help reduce flood risk to homes and businesses across the country.

Community/Urban Development

Landscape Architects are employed in private, public and academic organizations, and they are involved in all types of planning and construction and work on all scales, from large urban areas to your local neighborhood to your own home and backyard. In landscape architecture, the spaces between the buildings are just as important as the buildings themselves. Landscape Architects help decide how land and spaces are used over time. They balance human needs with environmental sustainability, so the landscape can be enjoyed and maintained through the generations.

Landscape Architects must consider how a space will be used to its best aesthetic abilities. Communities don’t happen by accident; Landscape Architects use well thought out plans and considerations from how a community will grow to how streets and lots are laid out to the detailed design for streetscapes and the neighborhood parks and walking trails. It takes the skill, experience and keen eye of a Landscape Architect to envision the layout of a community and how best to utilize its natural elements alongside any built elements.

Landscape Architects shape the physical setting for life in cities and towns of all sizes. They design and manage buildings, spaces and landscapes that meet the needs and wants of people living in urban environments. A well designed urban environment is both socially and economically successful, good to live in and attractive to visit. These designers have a good understanding of physical geography, social science, and have an appreciation for real estate development, urban economics, political economy and social theory

Good quality landscape architecture creates community among people so a space isn’t just a means of getting from “A” to “B” but it encourages people to meet and congregate. It is a highly cost effective part of any development plan and pays dividends in added sales values, increased rates of sales and positive customer perceptions.

Gary Haygood, Residential Services

I have extensive experience in the residential market, especially in Mississippi, and work with residential projects of all sizes. I do all of my design work, and I am personally involved in every detail of the project. And, I always communicate regularly with my clients so you are never left wondering what’s going on.

My career started with luxury resorts and commercial landscape architecture in Hilton Head, Tampa and across the Southeast. Now,  my resort design experience has a great influence on my residential projects. A natural, meandering style or a contemporary, urban style. An outdoor cooking and living area or a secluded relaxing spot nestled in your backyard. Or a pool complete with fountains. If you want to create the oasis of your dreams in your backyard, I’m able help you. I bring a unique blend of styles and creativity not common in the Mississippi market. And, nothing excites me more than  creating an element of “Wow!” for my residential clients.

Likewise, if you are looking to purchase or sell a home, I can provide a creative vision for improving curb appeal, and designing or reworking exterior spaces to better accommodate your needs. I can help buyers see a property’s potential, even helping them decide between lots based on both the landscape architecture potential and the costs to achieve the private oasis you desire. I know how to take advantage of the best views and the natural elements within your site. I can provide sellers with professional advice on ways to improve curb appeal and best position their home to sell, even if working on a shoestring budget.

Typical Projects

Landscape Architects are trained for both residential and commercial designs. Here are just a few of the project types covered by landscape architecture:

  • Residential sites
  • School and college campuses
  • Corporate and commercial grounds
  • Public gardens and arboreta
  • Historic preservation and restoration
  • Hotels, resorts, golf courses
  • Hospital and other facility sites
  • Interior landscapes
  • Land planning
  • Landscape art and earth sculpture
  • Monument grounds
  • Parks and recreation
  • Land reclamation and rehabilitation
  • Security design
  • Streetscapes and public spaces
  • Therapeutic gardens
  • Transportation corridors and facilities
  • Urban and suburban design
  • Waterfront development

Gary Haygood’s Education

Having grown up working with my dad at Bob’s Nursery in Columbus, MS, I gained an in-depth knowledge of and love for plant materials which prompted my decision to pursue a profession in landscape architecture.

I graduated from the dual degree program at MSU in 1988 with cum laude honors. This program is a combination of two majors resulting in a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Contracting and Management. This five-year program combined the business, horticulture and construction sides of the four-year landscape-contracting program with the design and construction aspects of the four-year landscape architecture program. The BLA program is the only accredited bachelor of landscape architecture degree program in the three state region of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Required Education

As a discipline, landscape architecture combines a diverse blend of the arts and sciences. There are two undergraduate landscape architect professional degrees: a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (BSLA). These usually require four or five years of study in design, construction techniques, art, history, natural and social sciences.

The design studio is a key component of any curriculum. Whenever possible, students are assigned real projects, providing them with valuable hands-on experience. While working on these projects, students become proficient in the use of computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), model building, and other design software.

Accredited programs are approved by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB). Those with an undergraduate degree in a field other than landscape architecture can enroll in a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) graduate degree program, which typically takes 3 years of full-time study.

Contractors & Design Teams

Landscape Architects design, often working with landscaping or other construction companies to install those designs. Think of the fashion designer imagining an outfit while a clothing manufacturer makes the apparel, or an artist designing a wall poster that’s printed by another company.

Landscape Architects and contractors are complementary
but highly distinct professions.

Beyond construction companies, Landscape Architects often collaborate with a whole host of other professionals to make up the design team. The team may consist of architects, engineers, planners, horticulturists, soil scientists, medical professionals, or other specializations in order to solve the design challenge.

Gary Haygood, Contracting Services

I offer my clients several choices when I’m designing their sites. I am happy to supply you with just the plans then you can take on the task of selecting bids, hiring contractors, overseeing construction, etc. Or, I can take care of the entire project from concept to completion. I’ll generate the designs then manage and oversee the construction with my crew. This turnkey approach is much, much easier for you and alleviates any worries or stress on your part.

Additionally, I’m able to bring in a team of professionals like architects and interior designers so we can create the best, most cohesive plan for your home. Together, we can address how the arrival experience works; how various rooms relate to the exterior elements; where focal features need to be and how they relate to views from the interior of the home; how the home relates to the topography (contouring/slopes) of the natural site; how designated trees and natural elements of the site will be preserved; and most importantly, how to collectively deliver the meaningful, impactful, memorable, experience that solicits that “WOW!” response from those who encounter the site and individual spaces….YOU as the homeowner and your guests.

Landscape Architects and contractors are complementary
but highly distinct professions.

Improved Quality of Life

Landscape Architects have a significant impact on communities and our quality of life. They are the masters of creating liveable spaces, that is, designed places that are beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing. They have long been creating environments that encourage daily exercise, provide clean air and water, and even supply nutritious food. This “liveability” concept brings together elements of housing, water, health, green infrastructure and wellbeing to create enjoyable, healthy and functional places for all the people in a community.

More than any other design profession, Landscape Architects
epitomize green design, and public health has always
been an integral component of the industry.

Here are a few ways that good landscape architecture improves your life:

Energy Savings — Landscape architects can utilize trees, shrubs and other plants to lower a home’s heating/cool costs by as much as 50 percent in the summer and up to 8 percent in the winter.

Healing Gardens — Working with medical professionals, landscape architects create landscapes that reduce stress, boost the immune system, improve Alzheimer’s symptoms, encourage physical activity, and reduce time spent in hospitals.

Bioremediation — Landscape architects use natural systems of plants, fungi, or soil microbes to transform formerly polluted industrial sites into a safe and valuable public green space.

Green Roofs — Instead of a black tar roof, a living system of plants and soil can actually reduce air temperature by 59 degrees in the summer, save winter heating costs, clean and store rainwater, and provide habitat to pollinating insects and birds.

Science of Landscape Architecture

The science involved in landscape architecture can be seen in a number of ways. Landscape Architects consider the role of flora, fauna and ecology in spaces, and they are able to advice on land reclamation and restoration, landscape ecology, habitats and vegetation. Landscape Architects are involved with many areas of landscape water management and design. To deal with flooding and sustainability issues, Landscape Architects create designs that manage water flow, consider water policies, and can be sustained through water management strategies. They are involved with both retrofitting areas that have flooding problems, and designing water systems for new developments.

Landscape Architects share an appreciation for historic landscapes this shows in their preservation projects for national, regional and local historic sites and areas. They also design and plan the restoration of natural places disturbed by humans such as wetlands, stream corridors, mined areas and forested land. Landscape Architects play an important role in environmental protection by designing and implementing projects that respect both the needs of people and of our environment.

A person may NOT call himself or solicit business as a Landscape Architect
until he has passed the L.A.R.E. and become licensed in his state.

Licensure & PLA

States regulate Landscape Architects through licensure because of the impact of the landscape architecture profession has on public health, safety and welfare.

The Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.) tests one’s knowledge, skills and abilities that directly relate to protecting public health, safety, and welfare.

A Landscape Architect uses the abbreviation “PLA” to indicate that he/she is a licensed Professional Landscape Architect. This distinction means three important things:

  • He/she has a college degree in landscape architecture AND
  • He/she has passed the rigorous L.A.R.E. licensing exam AND
  • He/she is licensed in the state he/she is working as a Landscape Architect

If a person uses “PLA” after his/her name, you can rest assured that this person is a legitimate, licensed Landscape Architect. If the “ASLA” abbreviation is also used, you can know the person is in good standing with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and has agreed to abide by a strict set of professional ethics.

Gary Haygood, PLA, ASLA

I’m currently licensed as a Professional Landscape Architect in both Mississippi and Florida, and I’ve been licensed in other states and worked in the Caribean and in South America. (My license numbers are listed in the footer on each page of this site.) Additionally, I’m a member of CLARB which means I’m easily able to obtain licensure in  your state or area, so don’t let a difference in our locations keep you from getting the design you dream of for your property. Also, I’m a member in good standing with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

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