About the Profession of Landscape Architecture

Student Presentations, 2007


For more than 100 years, the American Society of Landscape Architects has promoted the landscape architecture profession and advanced the practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship. As the national professional association for landscape architects, ASLA has more than 18,000 members and 48 chapters, representing all 50 states, U.S. territories, and 68 countries around the world.

ASLA members enjoy many benefits and discounts with their annual dues. Two of the most important benefits, as identified by members, are ASLA's efforts to raise awareness of the profession, and legislative advocacy on issues that matter most to the profession, including licensure. Another valuable resource is National ASLA – offering access to JobLink, ASLA’s searchable job database, as well as the Advocacy Network – a source dedicated to shaping our political future. Visit www.asla.org to learn more about membership benefits.

Emerging Professionals

The mission of the Emerging Professionals (EP) program is to identify and respond to the needs of those who are new to the profession of Landscape Architecture in Southern California. This group appeals to the young professional who desires more social involvement with other landscape architecture professionals. The group is currently active in conducting their own meetings, walking tours, office tours, professional workshops and seminars.

The Emerging Professional gatherings alternate their meeting with social events, and plan to hold cross-over socials with allied professional groups such as the AIA, APA, ULI and City Planning. The group is not hierarchical and each participant is encouraged to step forward and initiate an activity or event.

EP focuses on three main aspects: •Monthly networking events; project tours, site visits and project previews; and workshops & lectures Visit http://www.socal-asla.org/index.php/professional/emerging-professionals to learn more about Emerging Professionals.

Mentoring Program

The Southern California Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (SCC/ASLA) Mentor Program is offered to unite and utilize the talents of landscape architecture students and emerging professionals with licensed landscape architects through the nurturing of a one-to-one relationship that contributes to the integrity, strength and success of personal and professional development. This will be achieved by building a reservoir of networking relationships, continuing education, and enthusiasm that will be mutually beneficial to both Mentors and Mentees. Participants in the program will have the opportunity to develop individual relationships to a level they deem appropriate.

The mentoring program provides landscape architecture Mentees with Mentors who can share their real world experiences, information, encouragement, advice, and access to networks for professional and business growth.

Through an application process, the program matches Mentees and Mentors based on their experience, business background, career aspiration, and professional interests. A solid and diverse network of regional business professionals and alumni serve as the Mentors and share perspectives on their professional experience.

The Mentor Program requires a six month commitment beginning in January and ending in June.

Who are the Mentors? The “Mentor Pool” is comprised of active full members of ASLA who have a strong belief in the power of mentoring, are interested in promoting leadership within the landscape architecture field and who wish to make a personal contribution to the professional lives of others while enriching their own.

Who are the Mentees? The “Mentee Pool” is comprised of active Associate and student members of ASLA who have a strong belief in the power of mentoring, are interested in learning more about the landscape architecture field, learning from their colleagues within the field and who wish to expand and enrich their professional experience. Visit http://www.socal-asla.org/index.php/professional/mentor-program to learn more about the mentoring program.

Landscape Architecture Practice

Landscape architecture encompasses the design of almost anything under the sky. Think of iconic places such as Boston's Emerald Necklace and the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. But also consider your downtown square, your local park, or even your own backyard. Green roofs, urban farms, and corporate campuses—all define landscape architecture.

Landscape architecture covers a huge spectrum, perhaps best understood by the profession’s mantra: achieving a balance between the built and natural environments. It requires a multidisciplinary approach involving environmental science, art, ecology, and much more, leading to extraordinary results like restoring endangered wetlands, reducing hospital stays, securing government and other buildings, and removing toxins from rainwater.

Landscape preservation, development and enhancement is the dominant purpose of services provided by landscape architects. Implementation of that purpose includes: (1) the preservation and aesthetic and functional enhancement of land uses and natural land features; (2) the location and construction of aesthetically pleasing and functional approaches and settings for structures and roadways; and, (3) design for trails and pedestrian walkway systems, plantings, landscape irrigation, landscape lighting, landscape grading and landscape drainage.

Landscape architects perform professional work in planning and design of land for human use and enjoyment. Based on analyses of environmental physical and social characteristics, and economic considerations, they produce overall plans and landscape project designs for integrated land use.

The practice of a landscape architect may, for the purpose of landscape preservation, development and enhancement, include:

  • investigation, selection, and allocation of land and water resources for appropriate uses
  • feasibility studies
  • formulation of graphic and written criteria to govern the planning and design of land construction programs
  • preparation, review, and analysis of master plans for land use and development
  • production of overall site plans, landscape grading and landscape drainage plans, irrigation plans, planting plans, and construction details and specifications, including cost estimates
  • reports for land development
  • collaboration in the design of roads, bridges, and structures with respect to the functional and aesthetic requirements of the areas on which they are to be placed
  • negotiation and arrangement for execution of land area projects
  • field observation and inspection of land area construction
  • landscape restoration


Programs of landscape architecture are accredited by the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB). The mission of the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) is to evaluate, advocate for, and advance the quality of education in landscape architectural programs.


Licensure in California can be obtained through the combination of Education, Experience and Examination, often referred to as the three E’s or the three legged stool. Each of the three ‘legs’ are important to provide for the knowledge, skills and ability to help protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

As defined in the Landscape Architects Practice Act: "Landscape architect" means a person who holds a license to practice landscape architecture in this state under the authority of this chapter (The Landscape Architects Practice Act). People without a licensure are not permitted to call themselves landscape architects or practice landscape architecture.

To qualify for the written examination, applicants must have six years of training and educational experience in actual practice of landscape architecture. A degree from a school of landscape architecture approved by the board is deemed equivalent to four years of training and educational experience. Cal Poly Pomona is an approved school for both the BSLA and MLA programs.

Candidates may take sections 1 and 2 of the LARE following meeting the education requirements, but must wait until meeting the full education/experience standard before taking sections 3 and 4. Candidates must also pass the California supplemental exam following passage of all sections of the LARE.

Visit http://www.latc.ca.gov to learn more about licensure.


Candidates must have at least two years of training/practice credit to be eligible for the examination. At least one of the two years of training/practice credit shall be under the direct supervision of a landscape architect licensed in a United States jurisdiction, and should be completed after graduation. Visit http://www.latc.ca.gov to learn more about licensure.


Individuals who are licensed to practice landscape architecture in one state may obtain a license from another state by completing the reciprocity licensure process. To obtain a license in another state, individuals must pass the written examination and meet the education and training requirements for first-time exam candidates in that state. Different states have different requirements.

Visit http://www.latc.ca.gov to learn more about licensure and reciprocity.