Hardscape Designer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 18, 2019

Hardscape designers require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and voluntary certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Hardscape designers are a subset of landscapers who specialize in designing outdoor features such as decks, patios, walkways, arbors and fences. Their job includes estimating the costs for the material used in designing these features whether it is wood or brick. Many hardscape designers hold degrees in horticulture, soil science or other plant-related subjects and can later be voluntarily certified by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.

Essential Information

Hardscape designers plan the layout and design of patios, decks, walkways, and other hardscape features. Their goal is to create an outdoor living space that is appealing to their clients. While there are no set education requirements for entry-level work in this field, many hardscape designers hold an associate's, bachelor's or master's degree in horticulture, soil science, or a related field. Someone who enjoys design, architecture, landscaping, and working outdoors may find this to be an enjoyable profession.

Required Education Associate's degree in horticulture or related field
Other Requirements Voluntary certification by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% (landscape architects)
Median Salary (2018)* $68,230 (landscape architects)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Hardscape Designers

A subset of landscape design, hardscape design involves creating the layout for such features as decks, patios, walkways, arbors and fences. Designers can also voice ideas about specialized hardscape features, including ponds and waterfalls. They may take into consideration the types of plants and soil, as well as the amount of light and rainfall an area may receive, when coming up with ideas. Hardscape designers aim to create an outdoor living space that's inviting to clients. They commonly work with small business and residential properties.

Hardscape Designer's Duties

Hardscape designers assess a client's needs before drafting up ideas, beginning with examining the site space. In addition to planning concepts, hardscape designers help choose the materials used in hardscape installations. For example, they might consider brick, wood, stone or aggregate when designing a deck or patio. Their job also involves estimating the cost of necessary materials, and their work as a landscape designer could require selecting appropriate plants.

Since licensing isn't involved in landscape or hardscape design, such professionals aren't allowed to contribute construction drawings or supply construction services. They can work in conjunction with landscape architects and contractors, but their role is limited to generating conceptual ideas and layouts. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) says that landscape designers may supervise the aesthetic aspects of installation (www.apldca.org).

Requirements for Hardscape Designers

Set requirements aren't in place for this profession, so individuals may take different educational paths to become a hardscape designer. Industry sources revealed to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that landscape designers hold anywhere from an associate's degree to a master's degree in plant-related subjects (www.bls.gov). Possible fields and concentrations include horticulture and soil science. The APLD reported that landscape architects also receive education in residential design.

Landscape design can be studied at certificate and degree levels. Certificate programs often include introductory courses in the history of landscape design and plant science. Associate's degree programs also include classes in computer-aided design specific to designing landscapes. Some programs include specific hardscape courses in the curricula.

Voluntary Certification

Professional landscape designers can pursue certification from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. This voluntary, national certification requires applicants to have at least four years of experience. They need to present records of three projects to demonstrate their work. Recertification requires 30 continuing education hours every three years.

Salary and Employment Outlook Information

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't report salary or employment outlook data for hardscape designers or landscape designers, it does report these figures for landscape architects. In May 2018, the BLS reported that professionals in the 90th percentile or higher earned $113,340 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $40,710 or less per year. Employment of landscape architects was expected to grow slower than national average from 2018 to 2028.

Hardscape design is a subset of landscape design where such designers specialize in planning the layout and design of patios, decks, walkways, and other hardscape features. They often have educational backgrounds in horticulture, soil science or any other plant-based degree program. They can be voluntarily certified by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and enter a career where they may earn a median wage about of $68,000 a year.

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