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Survey: Myths about the profession

In anticipation of this Myth issue of the magazine, we asked Ground readers to share the myths about landscape architecture they wish could be dispelled. No gripe is too small: this is an opportunity to get it all off your chest. The responses were appropriately passionate, and fairly amusing (with some emotional distance). What follows is the distillation of some of the standout answers:

Number 5: No harm in seeking some free advice
While at the backyard barbecue party, it would be considered incredibly bad manners to ask a visiting dermatologist about your skin condition. First of all, that’s sort of private and, second of all, parties aren’t considered billable hours. Yet, strangely it’s not generally considered as taboo to ask a landscape architect their thoughts on where to put the hostas. If you have an LA over, please let them enjoy their hotdog in peace.

Number 4: “What do you do in the winter?”
The general population might be surprised to learn landscape architects don’t just get the winter off. This is Canada, and that would be an exceptionally long hiatus. While the snow and frost may get in the way of some on-site work, winter is an excellent time for the design portion of, well, designing landscapes. This misconception is also related to…

Number 3: Landscape architects are landscapers
No. Different job, actually. But this is a misconception that goes all the way to the bank. One Ground reader wrote that they had real trouble getting bank funding for their firm, back in the day, because banks were concerned about the lack of any “tools of the trade” in the business plan. Now, the plan made ample mention of light tables, stools, conference room furniture, etc. But, seeing no mention of lawnmower, shovel, rake, or wheelbarrow, all but one bank passed.

Number 2: Landscape architects are the “plant people”
Look, landscape architects love plants. That’s a given. They understand, respect, and are generally pretty excited about plants. But they’re not horticulturalists (also a different job), and they can’t necessarily “fix” your grass and make it greener. As a result of this narrow idea, coupled with the general tendency to think of landscape as an afterthought, one reader expressed frustration with projects where they were left to try to fit plants into predesigned spaces those organisms couldn’t possibly survive in, and/or “pretty up” the landscape.

Number 1: “That we’re well paid”
I mean in this economy? Sometimes you do it for the love. There’s always journalism, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Text by Glyn Bowerman, a journalist, host of the Spacing Radio podcast, and editor of Ground.