• Lifestyle College

Considering a career in Landscaping?

Oh! In a heartbeat, I hear so many people say. And for those who have taken a long and meandering path into the Green Industry, we understand that this is a wonderful field to be in. As garden and landscape designers, we feel the enjoyment of taking an empty or failing space and turning it into something that works for the owner.

We have all seen the success stories of those high-flying designers on international television, and wish for the enormous budgets that are necessary, not only for the making of the series on TV, but also the gardens they feature.

On the whole, the truth is that often our dream jobs are not quick or high earners. These jobs are mostly meagrely paid, especially in a country where more and more people are feeling the pinch. However, all the other benefits outweigh the money. (And really, one tends to think of rather buying a good second-hand workhorse bakkie rather than a flash high-end luxury German sedan or SchoolUtilityVehicle!)

Financial sacrifices are inevitable if your choice is gardening, but for many people who’ve had a stressful first career (as so many of us who have made the swap seem to have had), the calm environment of a large garden where you work to the rhythms of the seasons seems to more than compensate for any loss of income.

Ultimately, it’s the joy of being in a great place where you can enjoy the lovely weather while staying at home, as well as working in one too. The realisation that with just a little creativity, patience and enthusiasm you can add fun to backyard designs and make them look amazing.

Having a beautiful landscape around oneself serves more purposes than just being aesthetically pleasing. If you plan on studying in this field, you can literally make the world a better place. You'll use your creativity, empathy and analytical skills to create improved living environments for garden owners.

If good design is invisible, then you might not notice the intentional choices that go into designing a landscape. It's the work of a landscape designer or architect to subtly guide people through a physical space and shape how they interact with it – and yes, it entails a bit more than just choosing the potted plants.

A landscape designer may have a wild imagination and excellent creativity, but when you design boulders to be placed in a garden where they have to be craned in over the house, the client will ask some serious financial questions! We have to learn to think like a contractor when designing… knowing how a construction job will function and knowing when to spot that a contractor is at his limit of labour skills, which might hinder your project. Is your design too difficult to construct or did you find the wrong contractor? Those are questions you can easily answer as a landscape designer.

You may have seen a number of internet meme's usually portraying landscapers (either designers or architects) as either mowing lawns or sitting behind a desk clicking away on CAD on their computers all day. Sure, some of this is true and you could get pigeon-holed. But in reality, no matter the discipline, our profession is extremely expansive. One of the huge bonuses of being ‘a gardener’ (as I prefer to refer to myself when people ask me what I do) is that you don’t spend your whole life at desks or in meetings. We get to go outdoors, enjoy nature in all her glory, ask questions, interact, understand, and get a feel for places and cultures. It's a world of opportunity for outdoorsy types.

We are not only designers but planners, innovators, communicators, writers, coordinators, managers, marketers, green building leaders, and more. As some well-known worldwide Landscape architect/designers have said: ‘.... We not only need to know about plants but also paving, walls, fence, rails, concrete, wood, metal, furniture, lighting, water features, irrigation, water management, and sustainability. Additionally, we must understand the construction of each piece and how they all stitch together cohesively within the overall site and ecological cycle. We do not just draw beautiful lines–those lines must be approved by agencies, to code, within budget, buildable by contractors, and hopefully sustainable. As Ned Stark once quipped, "One does not simply draw a paving joint." (That one especially for my more technically-minded co-conspirators!)

There are of course many people who believe we are residential specialists and that we know everything there is to know about plants. Just try explaining the difference between botanist, horticulturalist, garden designer, landscaper, landscape architect, and bakkie brigade! (In contemporary practice landscape design bridges between landscape architecture and garden design.) The truth is that many designers aren’t plant experts, and no – I cannot identify every tree picture that comes at me on your phone, or explain to you why the leaf you have brought me is brown and rusty! (Well, we can of course take educated guesses sometimes, but happily we have a great network of passionate, well-educated and friendly experts in the various disciplines who are always willing to identify that which you can’t...)

Across the world, numbers of people getting involved in the Green Industry are falling, so there is a huge amount of scope to make your mark in this fulfilling career. We have the opportunity to make a difference in not only our own world, but in that of our clients, and by extension, the environment as a whole. And at Lifestyle College, we’ll give you all the opportunities and knowledge you’ll need to make it happen.

Speaking of doing things differently, working in the design industry means you are surrounded by highly creative and innovative people every day. Total inspiration to hand... Come and learn how to design with your heart and create with your mind, not with what everyone else is doing.

Lifestyle College has been offering Landscape Design courses for over 26 years. If you have a passion for plants and design join us for a full-time one year course in Landscape Design.

Registration closes: 5 February 2018.

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