Landscape designers need to know how to choose and care for plants that grow in their region to create attractive landscapes. They need to be able to design lawns, gardens, and other landscapes that thrive in different seasons and over the long term as well as the short term.
Landscape designers often study subjects such as horticulture, drawing and design. It is also important for them to understand basic construction principles as well as how to maintain the landscapes they create. Hands-on planting, fertilizing and lawn-care work provide useful practice for understanding the short-term and long-term care needs of specific plants and environments. Business skills are also useful for landscape designers, who need to be able work closely with customers, estimate bids, and understand basic principles of accounting, drawing up contracts, and writing proposals.
Most landscape designers have an associate or bachelor's degree in a field such as horticulture or design. Many professional landscapers also have certification from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, which is the main professional organization and only certification program available for landscape designers in the United States. Certification from the APLD requires at least four years of hands-on landscape design experience, although practitioners at any level can become members.