Horticulturist vs. Landscape Architect

This question has come up several times in the past couple of weeks: What is the difference between a horticulturist and a landscape architect? 

A houriculturist is a botanist or agronomist or arborist (or all) who understands the biology, ecology, pathology of plants and soils (and often birds and insects). Horticulturists have course work in plant physiology, in cellular morphology, in organic chemistry and physics (light is VERY important to plants). They study plant taxonomy, ID, and plant anatomy. Horticulturists have course work in crop production, post harvest physiology, in pest control and in nutrient management. In short, horticulturists are experts in plants and how to grow them.

Good horticulturists learn to observe. We observe gardens both native and planted for knowledge of what works well in every given microclimate and situation and also what does not. Some plants thrive without care, others do best when hedged by deer, some only grow well with other plants to shade their roots, some plants struggle with extra irrigation, etc..., etc... Horticulturists usually only have one or two classes in design. Horticulturists can design plantings based on observations of nature and planted gardens and deep knowledge of what works best in each setting. They are really not taught much about architecture nor do the work with engineering.

Landscape architects study mathematics and engineering and drainage. They analyze the grand landscapes of great masters. The are trained in garden styles. They can place patios and pavers areas and pools and outdoor kitchens. They can design tea-houses and tree-forts. Landscape architects are great with concepts and with putting areas together as a whole. They have course work in laws, codes and ordinances. They learn about city planning and traffic flows and head clearance. They also, sometimes, have a class or two relating to plants. They are not taught much about plants nor do they really work with plants.

If you have questions regarding what plant grows best where or which plants survive with minimal irrigation or which plants are native, introduced or are a weed, ask a horticulturist. If you need to create a plant list for a subdivision or a town, it would be rediculous to ask anyone other than a horticulturist. Many quality architects do call on expert horticulturists to "fill-in-the-blanks" of their grand conceptual designs and far too many do not.

There are actually a few excellent horticulturists who later become excellent Landscape Architects and they are a very rare breed; Jens Jensen, for example.

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10678 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA 96161-4834
Central Truckee, exit 186 off I-80
(530) 587-0771
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Founded 1975, Incorporated 1990

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