Landscape garden design is a popular profession in Australia with a range of job opportunities available for experienced professionals. These jobs vary from working as a gardener or landscape maintenance professional that designs occasionally as part of your job, or designing on the side, to designing and managing large-scale projects as a landscape architect or designer.
You’ll learn some basic information about a career in landscape garden design in this article, as well as get a resource to browse landscape garden design jobs in this article.
Is there a difference between landscape and garden designers?
Landscape designers and garden designers are basically the same thing, although the term “landscape” can have connotations of larger projects. This article is a broad, bird’s eye view of the sector, so we’re using the terms interchangeably here.
What Do Landscape and Garden Designers Do?
Landscape garden designers are responsible for creating and managing beautiful and functional outdoor spaces. They work closely with clients to understand their needs and preferences, and then use their creativity and technical skills to design a space that meets these requirements.
Here are some of the key tasks and responsibilities of landscape designers:
- Conducting site surveys and analysis to determine the suitability of the location for a garden or landscape design
- Developing conceptual and detailed plans for outdoor spaces
- Selecting plants, materials, and other design elements based on their suitability for the local climate and soil conditions
- Communicating with clients, contractors, and other stakeholders to ensure the design is implemented effectively
- Monitoring the construction and maintenance of the garden or landscape design to ensure it meets quality standards
- Conducting ongoing maintenance and renovations to keep the garden or landscape design looking its best
According to reference , the average salary for a Landscape Designer in Australia is AU$57,780 per year. This is based on 70 salary profiles with a base salary ranging from AU$48k to AU$70k, a bonus ranging from AU$491 to AU$2k, and a total pay ranging from AU$45k to AU$71k.
According to reference , the average salary for a Landscape Architect in Australia is AU$62,227 per year. This is based on 327 salary profiles with a base salary ranging from AU$50k to AU$87k, a bonus ranging from AU$299 to AU$6k, and a total pay ranging from AU$50k to AU$88k.
Reference  states that landscape designers can earn up to AU$90,000 per year, while landscape architects can earn up to AU$110,000 per year.
Qualifications for Landscape Design Jobs in Australia
To work as a landscape designer in Australia, you don’t need any formal qualifications. However, to be a good designer, it’s best practice to gain at least one qualification in horticulture, construction or landscape design and some experience in construction and maintenance.
Too many designers are creating designs that are impractical to construct or maintain for the simple fact that they haven’t got experience in the field. Common examples are pedestrian gates on acreages that require ride-on mowing, and illogical hardscapes that aren’t practical to construct.
If you’re starting your own design business, your clients may or may not prefer for you to have relevant qualifications, but if you’re seeking employment your employer almost certainly will.
Here are some of the key qualifications that employers look for:
- Degree in Landscape Architecture: A bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture or design will provide you with the technical and creative skills needed to design and plan outdoor spaces. Qualified landscape architects can attract a higher income than landscape designers, read more later in this article.
- Certificate or Diploma of Landscape Design: These are the bread-and-butter of a landscape design career.
- Horticulture Qualifications: If you have a background in horticulture, you may be able to specialise in landscape design. A qualification in a horticulture-related field like botany, parks and gardens or agriculture will give you a solid foundation in the science of plants and their use in landscapes.
- Creative Skills: A keen eye for design, strong visualisation skills, and the ability to work with both clients and a team of professionals are all important qualities for success in a landscape design career. Any qualifications in other creative fields like graphic design or fine art are relevant in a landscape design career.
- Knowledge of Design Software: Proficiency in landscape design software such as AutoCAD, SketchUp, or Rhino is often required.
- Communication Skills: Good communication skills are essential in this role, as you’ll need to be able to communicate your ideas and designs to clients, as well as work with other professionals such as architects, engineers, and construction workers. If you don’t understand the vision for each project, you’ll waste time in the revision process.
- Passion for Landscape Design: Lastly, you should have a genuine passion for landscape design and be dedicated to creating beautiful, functional outdoor spaces. Otherwise, how will you stand out from your competition?
How to Gain Experience in Garden Design
An entry-level candidate can gain experience in landscape garden design in several ways:
- Education: Pursue a degree or certification in landscape architecture, horticulture, or a related field.
- Internships: Look for internships or apprenticeships in landscape design firms to gain hands-on experience and exposure to the industry.
- Volunteer work: Offer to assist with community gardening projects or local parks and gardens to gain practical experience.
- Personal projects: Create and design your own garden or outdoor space to develop your design skills and creativity. You can also design fictional gardens that will probably never be built and add those to your portfolio.
- Building a portfolio: Document your work, including designs, sketches, and photographs, to showcase your skills and experience.
- Joining professional organisations: Consider joining professional organisations, such as the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and the Australian Institute of Horticulture, to connect with other professionals in the field and stay informed about industry developments.
- Networking: Attend local events, workshops, and conferences related to amenity horticulture and landscape design to meet industry professionals and gain insight into the field.
- Reading and research: Stay up to date on industry trends and best practices by reading trade publications and online resources. Listen to the Plants Grow Here podcast to hear experts, industry professionals and enthusiasts discussing on horticulture-related topic per episode.
Pros of Landscape Design Jobs
- Creative outlet: Landscape design offers a unique opportunity to unleash your creativity and bring your vision to life. You have the chance to make cool designs that have a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment.
- Flexibility: Many landscape design jobs offer a flexible schedule, allowing you to set your own hours and work around other commitments. This can include working from home.
- Career growth: The landscape design industry is constantly evolving, providing plenty of opportunities for growth and advancement. With experience, you can move into management roles, start your own business, or specialise in a particular area of garden design. You can even compete in show gardens like the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
- Job satisfaction: Many landscape designers find job satisfaction in seeing their designs come to life and in knowing that they have made a positive impact on the environment and people’s lives.
Cons of Landscape Design Jobs
- Demanding: Just because you aren’t on-the-tools, doesn’t mean you aren’t working hard. Landscape design can be a demanding job, especially when working on large projects that may require long hours and lots of research.
- Seasonal fluctuations: The demand for landscape designers can be seasonal, with peak periods in the spring and summer when clients are looking to revamp their gardens and outdoor spaces. Even though the best time to design is technically in the winter, before the growing season.
- Competition: The landscape design industry is competitive, so it’s important to have a strong portfolio and to be able to demonstrate your skills and expertise.
Landscape Design vs Landscape Architecture
It’s important to differentiate between a landscape garden designer and a landscape architect.
A landscape designer is typically responsible for creating the overall design of outdoor spaces such as parks, gardens, and residential properties. They may also be involved in garden construction or maintenance. A landscape designer usually has a background in horticulture, gardening or design, and may or may not have completed a certificate or diploma course in horticulture or landscape design.
On the other hand, a landscape architect is a professionally qualified and licensed individual. They have a deeper understanding of the technical and practical aspects of landscape design. In Australia, landscape architects must be registered with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) and have obtained a recognised qualification in order to practice.
In summary, a landscape designer focuses on the aesthetic and horticultural aspects of outdoor spaces, while a landscape architect considers the technical and practical aspects of design, construction, and management on top of aesthetics. Both professions play important roles in creating beautiful and functional outdoor spaces, and the choice of profession to pursue will depend on the specific desires and requirements of each job seeker.
Find Your Dream Landscape Garden Design Job Today!
Discover opportunities in the field of landscape and garden design by exploring job listings on the Australian horticulture job portal, Hort People. Your dream job could be waiting for you.
With a range of job opportunities in different sectors and the chance to work in beautiful outdoor spaces, landscape garden design is a rewarding career choice for those with a passion for horticulture. If you’re interested in starting a career as a garden design pro, don’t wait, upload your resume to Hort People today to start the process.