Sims Luxury Builders Blog

Do I Need a Landscape Architect?

MAIN PHOTO 1 - and thumbnail

When it comes to custom home design, landscaping should never be an afterthought. Our team and our homeowners view the hardscapes and landscapes surrounding each home as an extension of the home itself, so they are always discussed very early in the custom home architectural design phase. Thinking proactively about site planning and landscape design is crucial to making the most of your future property, so a professional who specializes in these areas is a great idea. The question is less DO we need a landscape professional, and instead WHO is the right partner and WHEN do we bring them into the design process?

Depending on the characteristics of each custom home project, a landscape architect, a landscape designer, or simply a landscaping firm with design capabilities may be needed. This post will hopefully guide you to determine which of those landscape professionals may be needed for your custom home project. 

PHOTO 2 (1)


First, let’s talk about the ideal time to begin collaborating with a landscape architect or designer. The answer is: as soon as possible. Once you have a conceptual plan from your architect (including a floor plan and basic exterior elevations), you’ll want to begin considering how both landscaping and hardscaping will be laid out on your property. Landscaping refers to your lawn as well as all plant material, while hardscaping refers to hard surface elements like driveways, walkways, decking, retaining walls, pergolas, etc.

Planning out both landscaping and hardscaping towards the beginning of the architectural design process will ensure that your indoor and outdoor spaces are cohesive and that they are perfectly curated to suit your unique preferences and lifestyle. It will also help you finalize a site plan, drainage plan, and landscape plan, which are often required by your HOA and/or municipality before beginning construction.

Now, let’s dig into whether you need a landscape architect, a landscape designer, or simply a landscaping firm with design capabilities for your future custom home. 

PHOTO 3 (1)


A landscape architect has the educational background and certification to work on landscaping AND hardscaping elements of all projects, both residential and commercial. They often have extensive knowledge in a wide range of relevant topics, from surveying to drainage systems to optimal material alternatives for both landscaping and hardscaping.

If your future custom home is located on an expansive acreage site, you will undoubtedly want to engage a landscape architect. The larger your property, the more critical the collaboration between your architect, custom builder, and landscape architect will be. Each of these professional partners will look at your project through a different lens, with the architect focusing mostly on the interior and immediate exterior of the home, the custom builder focusing on the constructability and cost implications of the design, and the landscape architect focusing on the structural as well as softscape aspects of your home’s exterior from both a form and function perspective.

With all three of these partners working together, your outdoor spaces will be designed and executed in a way that blends beautifully, optimizing your home by making your outdoor spaces VISUALLY appealing from inside the home and FUNCTIONALLY appealing while outside the home.

A skilled landscape architect will consider the existing site conditions as well as the property’s potential. They will listen carefully to the homeowners’ goals and can often imagine possibilities beyond what the architect, homeowner, or builder can. They will consider the building materials, architectural style, color palette, interior layout and views, sun exposure, as well as the homeowners’ lifestyle in order to create the perfectly curated environment.

In addition, landscape architects oftentimes weigh in on everything from grading and irrigation plans to placement locations for construction equipment to make sure elements of the existing landscape can withstand the building process.

PHOTO 4 (1)


Landscape designers can come from a range of educational backgrounds and do not need a certification to practice. They do often have extensive knowledge of plant materials that will thrive in your local climate as well as how to incorporate landscaping to optimize your outdoor spaces. They typically have less experience in designing hardscaping elements such as walkways, covered patios, etc.

If you are not interested in incorporating many hardscaping elements into your home’s outdoor space, then you can save a good chunk of change by hiring a landscape designer instead of a landscape architect. Landscape designers (and sometimes even landscaping firms who have some design capabilities in-house) can oftentimes create a landscaping plan sufficient enough to get you through the HOA and city/county permitting approvals processes.

Curious what your custom builder should be doing during the architectural design phase to proactively prepare for your home’s construction? Visit our previous blog post here.

PHOTO 5 (1)


If your home is located in a master-planned community or situated on a small lot that doesn’t allow for much hardscaping beyond the footprint of your home’s building envelope, then chances are you may not need a landscape architect OR designer. In addition, if your future custom home is located in a very urban setting, there is a chance that your building envelope may span nearly the entirety of the lot. In this case, a grand landscaping plan may not be needed. Finally, if you are renovating your custom home and simply want to give your outdoor space a refresh without adding structural elements, a landscaper can help you achieve your goals. In these instances, you can likely make do with a landscaping firm who has design capabilities in-house.

PHOTO 6 (1)

When you’re building or renovating your custom home, the truth is that you do, in fact, need a talented, qualified landscape design professional on board. Hopefully the information above helped you to determine whether you need a landscape architect, a landscape designer, or simply a landscaping firm with design capabilities. No matter who you engage for your home, keep in mind that a well-landscaped home significantly increases the curb appeal and ultimate value of your property. 

New call-to-action

Guides and Checklists Custom Homes Renovations

Marie Sims

As a veteran team member of Sims Luxury Builders, Marie enjoys sharing what she’s learned with the world.


Like what you're reading? Subscribe Now.