Difference Between Horticulturist & Landscape Architectect

Horticulturists and landscape architects both work with plants. The focus and skill set for each career differs, however. Horticulturists focus on plant growth and landscape architects focus on how the plants fit into an environment.

Comparing Horticulturist to Landscape Architect

Landscape architects are similar to engineers in their approach to plants while horticulturists work more like scientists trying to understand the plants for breeding purposes. Landscape architects use computer modeling software to design gardens or parks with aesthetic and environmental qualities that benefit the owner or public.

Job Title Minimum Education Required Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Horticulturist Bachelor's Degree $62,920 5% (for all agriculture and food scientists)
Landscape Architect Bachelor's Degree $63,480 5%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of a Horticulturist vs. a Landscape Architect

Horticulturists maintain plants while studying variables that affect their growth, such as plant diseases or cross-breeding, in the hopes of improving plant productivity. Work involves all aspects of growing plants whether it is in a lab, greenhouse or outdoor garden. A landscape architect has an understanding of plant needs, but is more focused on how those plants will fit into a particular environment. They design the environment to be attractive and functional based on the needs of the client.


A horticulturist may be hired by a botanical garden, professional organization, government agency, or private landowner to display and research plants while keeping them healthy. There is room for advancement based upon education and years of experience. A horticulturist may become a greenhouse manager or even a researcher specialized in one aspect of plant growth. Regardless of the job level people in this profession will be getting their hands dirty.

Job responsibilities of a Horticulturist include:

  • Watering, pruning and mulching plants
  • Controlling pests using a variety of techniques
  • Keeping records of plant growth and managing seed banks
  • Communicating with employers and/or public regarding plant characteristics

Landscape Architect

A landscape architect must first analyze the site to be improved using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the area. Additional software includes Computer Aided Design (CAD) which functions to draft the regions to be modified. In addition to working for private landowners or professional organizations, landscape architects may be hired by government agencies to restore areas that have been damaged by industry. Whatever the purpose of the landscaping, people working in this profession must have skills associated with art and design as well as technical proficiency in site analysis.

Job responsibilities of a Landscape Architect include:

  • Creating designs with plants, walkways, buildings and roads based on the needs of the client
  • Preparing an environmental impact statement for the proposed changes
  • Selecting appropriate plants for soil, sun and drainage variables at the site
  • Estimating cost of proposed site improvement
  • Communicating with client and permitting agencies

Related Careers

Horticulturists may advance to become greenhouse managers because they already have the skills for growing and maintaining plants. With more experience they can learn to manage budgets, supplies and other greenhouse workers. Landscape architects and surveyors have similar jobs because they are trained to measure slope and other aspects of a site and prepare a map of these features.

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