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Landscape Architecture

The Value of Hiring a Landscape Architect

Are you unsure if your project requires a landscape architect? Spoiler: it likely does. Landscape architects can help you gain a deeper understanding of your site, its composition, limitations, and areas of opportunity. If your project touches the soil, it's ideal to include a landscape architect early in the design process.

February 15, 2024

We think thoughtfully coordinated outdoor spaces are essential to achieving a well-rounded home. If they're on your wish list for your home and property updates, you'll need to consider how your exterior spaces will function and feel. And a landscape architect will be an essential part of your team as you contemplate how to utilize your property to its fullest potential.

What is a landscape architect responsible for?

Contrary to popular belief, a landscape architect isn’t simply shopping for hedges and flowers. Landscape architecture is a holistic discipline that considers how indoor and outdoor spaces connect, how people use outdoor areas, and how your home occupies and interacts with the land it sits on. That’s why we also like to use the term “site design”, because landscape architects and site designers optimize the design of spaces to function effectively, meet safety regulations, and, of course, meet your aesthetic goals.

When should I contact a landscape architect?

For most projects, we think it’s best to include a landscape architect from the beginning of your project. If your project plans will touch the exterior of your home or include outdoor amenity additions, a landscape architect is essential.

Contacting them early in the process can help you gain a deeper understanding of your site — from its topography, soil composition, and vegetation, to codes and safety regulations.

What will a landscape architect help me with?

Landscape architects have a wide range of skills they bring to a project. They can help uncover your project’s particular constraints and areas of opportunity based on your site’s unique elements. They’ll also help manage budget expectations by estimating how much should be reserved for the exterior versus the interior updates.

Designing for Your Wants & Needs

If you have a specific vision for your backyard or property, it’s important to consult a landscape architect in order to ensure your dream becomes a safe, functional reality.

Perhaps you’d like to install an in-ground pool. Do you have the necessary space? Is the ground (and what’s beneath it!) suitable for a deep enough dig? What materials will you use and what aesthetic are your seeking? Does it match with the rest of your vision for your outdoor spaces? Can a pool be installed within your budget and timeline parameters?

A covered outdoor kitchen features stainless steel counters and storage, a grill and a smoker. - Backyard Covered Kitchen – Board & Vellum
Covered Kitchen

Installing a backyard kitchen or similar amenities can be complex, and it’s best to work with a professional to understand your site.

A qualified landscape architect will help guide you toward answers to these and other questions, steer the process, liaise with the correct team members and collaborators when necessary, and provide you with realistic expectations. Even something as seemingly simple as a patio or backyard kitchen installation comes with nuances best handled by a trained professional.

Additionally, a landscape architect can assist in inclusive designs that are accessible to all people regardless of their abilities and mobility, imagining the most functional and attractive designs.

Access to Essential Technologies

When it comes to mapping out your vision, landscape architects have access to technologies to help you visualize your space.

At Board & Vellum, our landscape architects and site designers use drones to capture mapping and photography of your project’s exterior spaces and, using photographic overlays of your property, can map all the way down to finite details such as drain lids.

Backyard Artist Studio – Board & Vellum
Up Above

Drone technology can help you see your site from angles and heights that are otherwise inaccessible.

We also use 3D renderings and sketches to provide multiple design iterations so you can see different ways to achieve your final goal. These types of technologies allow our landscape architects to visualize, interact with, and manipulate elements of your space, from elevations and topography to vegetation and existing landscaping or structures. This means you can move forward with a design you’re confident is the most suitable option for your needs, budget, and overall design goals.

Codes, Permitting & Safety

There’s a lot that goes into landscaping and landscape architecture that most people would never consider, like building codes, permitting, and safety regulations. Exterior amenity spaces are frequently used and constantly exposed to natural elements, meaning a lot of consideration must be taken to ensure they’re safe to use.

Just like with architecture and interior design projects, there are extensive codes and regulations to adhere to when building around your property. Landscape architects know when a permit is required and can assist with receiving one from your municipality.

Puget Sound Bluff Home – Cape Cod Style Remodel of a Historic Home with Water Views
Complex Sites

Complex sites, like those on waterfronts, should be analyzed by a professional for an optimal project.

It’s also common for projects to have existing plans, only to find out they’re non-compliant with city standards – then it’s back to the drawing board. A landscape architect can help you avoid costly re-designs and will consult with you on multiple options that meet safety standards and will last for years to come.


A landscape architect will also be able to advise you on the most sustainable options for your project. Their understanding of plant life means they can make informed decisions regarding the most appropriate vegetation to use for the climate you’re in.

Planters on the deck. – Urban Yard at The Seattle Box – Board & Vellum
Materials and Plant Life

Choosing the right materials and plant life is an important aspect of sustainable design.

They can also help you source the best, most sustainable materials to minimize your property’s impact on the environment. Understanding your yard’s ecosystem is key to achieving a beautiful design that requires less maintenance and upkeep.

Why should I hire a landscape architect?

Landscape architects are essential to fully understanding your site, its limitations, and areas of opportunity. They’ll also help ensure the design of your home is cohesive from the inside, out by optimizing indoor-outdoor connections are seamless, and ensuring that exterior amenities function in a natural way.

Landscape architects can help you avoid costly mistakes with their knowledge of permitting, codes, and land in general. They’re especially crucial for any type of complex site, such as waterfront properties. Their toolkit and industry resources will provide a more holistic understanding of your site, project direction, and design goals.

No matter what type of project you’re embarking on, it’s best to consult a landscape architect from the beginning to achieve a result that meets safety standards, functions properly, and looks beautiful. Landscape architects can help you understand the options best suited for your project, provide various solutions when needed, and act as a vital asset in achieving the most cohesive overall design.

Our talented Landscape Architecture & Site Design team would love to talk to you about your project goals. Drop us a line or check out the variety of ways we can help you achieve your dream outdoor space.

Would you like to read more from the team?

If you enjoy reading our blog as much as we enjoy writing it, that just makes our day! You might also enjoy a few of the related posts below. And, if there is a topic that you wish we would cover, let us know!

The Value of Hiring a Landscape Architect

Are you unsure if your project requires a landscape architect? Spoiler: it likely does. Landscape architects can help you gain a deeper understanding of your site, its composition, limitations, and areas of opportunity. If your project touches the soil, it's ideal to include a landscape architect early in the design process.

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Steps of the Landscape & Site Design Process

So, you want to update the exterior of your home. Maybe the plants are all wrong or you want an outdoor kitchen. Or maybe you’re hoping for an even bigger impact. Whatever your goals, the site design process at Board & Vellum is designed to support you every step of the way.

Considering a project? Or, just curious about something?

Send us your questions about design, architecture, interiors, landscape, LEGO rooms… Anything, really. We’re always eager to meet new people, and we’d love to get to know you, your project, and your goals.

Get in touch.