Architecture is the art and science of planning, designing, and constructing buildings and other structures. The closely allied profession of landscape architecture focuses on integrating these built environments into the natural world. When the two professions work in harmony, the result is magical. The structures feel part of the land. Outdoor spaces accommodate the functional needs and programming goals of the client. And users of the spaces are better connected to nature both inside and out.

Indeed, when the two professions work in unison, they create a synergistic work of art that embodies an integrated design aesthetic.

“Blurring the line between inside spaces and outside spaces makes the architecture in Florida more unique and desirable.“ —Jerry Sparkman AIA, NCARB


The design process is iterative and collaborative, with inputs from the client, architect, and landscape architect all contributing to the overall vision for the project and final design. For residential clients, this process typically involves the following:

1. Programming

During this phase, the architect and landscape architect work directly with the homeowners to define the objectives and functional requirements for both the built structure and landscape. For example, the team will identify the proposed activities for both indoor and outdoor spaces, spatial requirements and relationships among these spaces, the expected quality and quantity of the spaces, and budgets and maintenance concerns. This informs the project brief, which encapsulates the design vision and direction for the project.

2. Site Analysis

As part of site analysis, the landscape architect evaluates the overall site for compatibility with proposed outdoor uses while relating the client’s needs to any physical, biological or cultural constraints of the land. Examples of factors a landscape architect might consider include jurisdictional setback requirements, depth to the water table, impervious coverage restrictions, and tree ordinances.

3. Schematic Design

Schematic design flows directly from site analysis. It is when the team focuses on three major components: the location of buildings and structures, circulation systems between key elements of the design, and all outdoor and open spaces. As output, the architect and landscape architect present a proposed illustrative design to ensure they have adequately captured the homeowners’ vision for their project.The team uses feedback from the client to confirm the design direction and advance the design.

4. Design Development

Working together, the architect and landscape architect further refine the schematic design. They work to document how the plan’s components relate to each other and ensure that they have achieved a solution that creates a sustainable and livable place. With confirmation that the design adequately captures the homeowners’ vision, the team prepares documents of sufficient detail to apply for jurisdictional permits and to obtain opinions of cost from contractors.

5. Construction Documents

With permits in hand and any final input from the homeowners, the team prepares documents that can be used to construct the project. In addition to detailed architectural plans for the building, construction documents will include landscape architectural plans such as grading and drainage plans; tree disposition plans (which show trees and shrubs to be pruned, removed or relocated); planting plans (which show new plants and those existing plants which are to remain); irrigation plans; and hardscape layout plans.


Both architects and landscape architects are licensed professionals that must have proper education and experience. They must also pass a series of standardized exams designed to test the knowledge and skills regarding the practice of their respective disciplines. In addition, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation maintains a searchable database ( for both architects and landscape architects.

When seeking design professionals, it’s also essential to ensure they are collaborative in their design process. Homeowners will live in their homes for years and it should be responsive to their needs and aesthetics. However, it isn’t necessary for one firm to employ both architects and landscape architects. Often, one professional can recommend other trusted qualified partners.

Dec. 7, 2021