Choosing between architect, designer to plan landscaping

BACKYARD Q&A

January 13, 2002|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Q. We purchased a new home in November and would like to have a landscape plan prepared for the property. What's the difference between a landscape designer and a landscape architect, and which should we choose to do the work?

A. There are several differences, but these differences are not always exact. In general, landscape architects have more training in the engineering aspects of landscape planning, while landscape designers tend to have more background in the arts. Also, landscape architects are required to have an undergraduate degree and be certified, whereas most states do not require this of landscape designers.

These definitions are relative because some landscape architects have backgrounds in the arts, and some landscape designers have training in landscape construction. Which you choose will depend on your needs, but I would suggest that you look for someone who uses a holistic approach to landscape planning. And because "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder," I would look for someone who sees beauty in the same way that you do.

Q. I was visiting a community garden this fall and saw that the gardeners were using old carpeting as weed mat. Do you recommend this?

A. This is an opinion question and my opinion on the matter follows. With the exception of using black plastic underneath graveled areas, the only weed mat that I recommend is layered newspaper. In my opinion, carpeting and other unnatural fibers have little or no place in the garden. The shortcoming of newspaper is that it breaks down rather quickly, but this is also a benefit. Newspaper is composed of natural fibers that replenish the soil as they break down. It is also readily available and can be had for free or at low cost. When covered with wood chips, newspaper does its job without ever being seen in the garden.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Gardeners always have an antidote to the post-holiday blues. They begin planning next year's garden. Get started by perusing books and catalogs for ideas.

2. When planning, don't forget the importance of the winter landscape. Now is a great time to look at other gardens for ideas to improve your winter landscape.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site www.agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.

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