What is Outdoor Design?

Landscape Architecture is a broad and highly varied profession, and its label is so amorphously defined and so liberally applied that its use conveys only the most generic sense of either the nature of the profession or the character of work associated with it. The uninitiated generally rightly assume that landscape architecture pertains to some kind of alteration of land or landscape, but from there, most folks are confused … and for good reason.

Occupations that fall under the purview of “landscape architecture” are wildly divergent and diverse, and the work involved is just as varied and just as broad. Applications and pursuits in landscape architecture literally range from those that protect the land to those that exploit it, and the associated work and ever-widening research are equally capacious — ranging from specializations in disciplines as disparate as ArcGIS data mapping (geographic information systems), pedology (study of soils), horticulture, UDO legalese (municipal unified development ordnance), and construction and business administration.

The exceptional breadth and ambiguity of landscape architecture can be viewed as either a blessing or curse, depending on the framer’s agenda and perspective. My personal touchstone in the field has always been the combination of design, landform, plants, and soils. In tandem with my love for ecology, these clarify and ground my work in landscape architecture.