Landscape architects learn standard processes and approaches taught at universities and institutions and is the level of design expected by clients and the other designers. These processes are the minimum for a landscape designer to meet the expected industry standard. Of course, expectations differ depending on the place, country, and industry maturity in the project location.

Over the past few decades, the term “best practice” has become part of client and designer jargon to market their projects or company and was seen by many as the best way to move the landscape industry into the future. Best practice often means applying a known standard (such as LEED or National Standards or similar) to create and develop designs for projects to a certain level of design and performance. In recent times, standards and practices have become stagnant and need to be revived, and this decade is the time to move forward.

As designers, landscape architects, we should strive to exceed these best practices and standards. We should improve upon standards by testing, prototyping, reviewing and leading design practices. This approach of leading and improving practices should be applied to design, procurement, construction, project evaluation to such a point that they become the new standard.

People will see this as too optimistic and idealistic and state that this approach will often not eventuate because clients often don’t even meet standards. Understandably this is due to clients not willing to spend the time or money or lack the education on how in the long term it will improve their projects, their processes and ultimately improve their company’s reputation

How can we improve landscape architecture practices?

Innovation

Find out about the latest processes, the new product or the best method from those leading the landscape industry, and seek inspiration from different industries. New approaches to design and construction often come from aerospace, auto vehicles, pharmaceutical and other manufacturing industries.

Design Process

Assess and evaluate your every design process, standards and approach and determine if they have become too ingrained and stale. Challenge yourself and your colleagues to improve their design process and skills. It is time to take up the challenge and use a leading-edge approach to design, development and construction.

Assess and Evolve

Review your past projects from the design, through development, construction and the built landscape and see what you can learn and create a record of the best and worst elements of the project.

Next, interrogate your current projects to determine if you are making the same mistakes or using outdated standards and processes. Determine how you can improve the design, procurement and construction processes.

Collaborate

Sharing your learnings with your fellow landscape architects and designers as the industry will only improve as a whole if people work together. However, the most powerful way to enhance the landscape industry is to collaborate with your clients, consultants, suppliers, and construction companies to improve processes and standards. This approach is truly leading edge, as everyone can talk about it in their companies, however, real leaders educate their colleagues, clients and construction contractors to make a difference.

The world has changed; it is time for the landscape architecture profession to endeavour to develop and utilise leading practices in the coming decade.

Written by Damian Holmes, Founder and Editor of WLA.