Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Landscape architects conceptualize landscape designs, develop contract documents and oversee the construction of landscape development for commercial projects, office complexes, parks, golf courses and residential development. They are employed by government environmental and development agencies, landscape consulting firms and by architectural and engineering firms, or they are self-employed.
- Face equipment failures and breakdowns. For example, a landscape architect is notified there is a mechanical system failure in the pumping station of an artificial water attraction. The landscape architect determines the cause of the equipment failure and calls the appropriate suppliers to fix it. (1)
- Discover that contractors have not completed work as specified. For example, during an inspection a landscape architect may notice that a water tank has been installed at the wrong depth or that a lighting system has been installed too low for the finished elevation of a pathway. The landscape architect meets with the contractor to discuss possible solutions and finds the most economical way to bring the work to specification or adjust other construction work to incorporate the mistake. (2)
- Discover inaccuracies in drawings. For example, a landscape architect may discover that a scale drawing indicates a flat site when its elevation actually varies by a metre. The landscape architect verifies measurements, makes adjustments to the design plans and informs the construction contractor of the changes. (2)
- May find that supplies and materials have not arrived on time. Because time is of the essence, landscape architects immediately contact the suppliers to determine causes of delays. They may need to make adjustments to project schedules or decide to choose different materials or suppliers if time is limited. (2)
- Realize during the construction phase that original ideas, plans and designs will not work or are not applicable. For example, they determine that a design for a shoreline stabilization mechanism using anchored logs will not work on the site. Landscape architects consult colleagues and co-workers to come up with alternative structures, present them to the client and incorporate feedback to identify a final option that will work well. (3)
- May perform work for clients who refuse to pay for services. They make all attempts to reach the clients by mail and telephone to discuss the issue, advise them of any late charges and to make arrangements for payment in full. If payments are not received, they may consider legal action to recoup funds. (3)
- Select landscape and construction contractors. They decide which contractors to use for particular aspects of landscape design and construction. They consider contractors' quotes, previous work and reputations. (2)
- Make decisions about the design and construction of landscapes for specific locations and purposes. They may decide which type of lighting to use for park pathways, fencing to use for walkways, species of trees and plants that are suitable for building entrances, or equipment to use in playgrounds. They consider aesthetics, functions, costs, clients' preferences, standards mandated by municipalities and constraints of related architectural and engineering plans. (3)
- May decide whether or not to bid on multi-phased, long-term projects. For example, self-employed landscape architects review 'requests for proposal' to evaluate technical components of projects to determine if they have the skills, expertise and time required to carry out the work. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- Evaluate the acceptability of proposals submitted by contractors. They may use evaluation forms to assign points for each proposal's cost, quality and feasibility. They also consider contractors' experience and reputations to select the best overall proposal. (2)
- Judge the quality of work performed by contractors. As part of the assessment, they determine the extent to which the contractors have met the specifications and standards stipulated in drawings and agreements. (2)
- Evaluate the suitability of various hardscape materials when designing projects. For example, they assess various construction materials for walls, fences, paths and any other permanent features. They must consider the function, durability and costs of products. (3)
- Evaluate the suitability of different landscape designs. For example, landscape architects evaluate various ways to design trail systems. They weigh numerous factors including own design preferences, budget constraints, assessments from contractors such as surveyors and engineers, consultations with affected communities and clients' visions. (3)
- Evaluate the effectiveness of proposed designs. For example, landscape architects may assess the extent to which proposed residential development layouts address environmental protection and safety concerns. They consider the environmental constraints presented by wetlands, streams and slopes. They weigh conflicting values such as residents' desire to conserve sensitive ecosystems and the need to clear vegetation around home sites for wildfire protection. (4)
Own Job Planning and Organizing
The scope of work and the priorities of landscape architects are largely determined by the context and sizes of the organizations for which they work and the goals of landscape development projects. Within this framework, landscape architects work independently to plan, design and manage projects. When working on multi-phased, long-term land development projects, their work is team-oriented and job tasks must be integrated with those of contractors, engineers, other landscape architects, and technicians. The ability to work on multiple projects, determine work priorities and meet clients' deadlines is critical to their jobs. Equipment breakdowns, changes in weather, construction problems or lack of funding can affect their work causing them to change priorities and schedules. (4)
Planning and Organizing for Others
Landscape architects may plan and schedule the work of junior staff, other staff members and contractors. Those who own their own businesses are responsible for operational and strategic planning, determining the pace and style of daily procedures and the types of projects to pursue. (4)
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember the botanical and common names of frequently-used plants.
- Remember city codes and provincial and federal act and regulations which govern their work.
- Remember common construction and planting standards such as the maximum distance between landings in a ramp and the spacing between trees on a boulevard.
- Remember the names and phone numbers of suppliers and contractors.
- Find by-laws, acts and regulations on government websites and in government publications. (1)
- Find suppliers of specialized products in technical magazines and professional newsletters, and on the Internet. (2)
- Conduct botanical and historical research by reading books, consulting biologists and archaeologists to find unusual species or design appropriately for a historic site. (3)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Depending upon the work context, landscape architects may work independently or as members of land development teams. Landscape architects involved in master planning coordinate and integrate job tasks with teams composed of other professionals and tradespeople. Teamwork is critical on large construction projects where landscape architects work with engineering staff, architects and construction contractors to ensure that project specifications and deadlines are kept. Those who work on smaller projects involving site planning may work independently to conduct site analyses, meet clients, develop proposals, recommendations and detailed plans. (3)
Continuous learning is a priority for landscape architects. They learn through daily work activities, from colleagues and co-workers and self-directed study. They read trade publications, and industry specific Internet sites. They may also participate in conferences and networking opportunities offered though provincial and national associations, and take short courses to learn about new computer applications such as AutoCAD. Some provinces require compulsory upgrading for registered members to maintain their certification by earning continuous learning credits though self study, work experience, workshops and volunteer community participation. They must remain current about changing standards and regulations such as those that apply to the safety of playground equipment. (3)