When you think of landscaping, what usually comes to mind are residential yards and lawns. Landscaping has a more far-reaching impact on society, though, and the industry is huge. It covers acres of parks, golf courses, and resorts where landscapers need to use utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) to get around the property and carry equipment and supplies. Landscaping in commercial areas and parks affect how people in society interact in common spaces.
A Snapshot of the U.S. Landscape Industry
Research shows that in 2021, the size of the landscaping industry market in the U.S. is worth $105.1 billion. While there is a predicted dip of -0.2 percent by the end of the year, the average annual growth since 2016 was 2.5 percent. Under Business Support, Administration, and Waste Management Services, the landscaping industry ranks third.
Landscape Architecture on a National Scale
Professional landscape architects from ASLA presented a paper to the Biden administration. It asked for the inclusion of their industry in critical planning for environmental protection, urban development, housing, general services, transportation, agriculture, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degree program, among others.
The paper outlined how they can collaborate with the government to improve the nation’s environmental infrastructure. They also want to ensure that outdoor recreational areas are built for underprivileged and underserved communities.
Landscape architecture covers the planning, design, and management of environments. The process ensures that there is no damage to the environment and that the outcome benefits both the environment and the people. Landscape architects create resilient communities that are well-planned and highly livable, with enough parks and open spaces, transport ways that safely accommodate multiple types of vehicles, stormwater management, and protection from floods and storm surges. All these must be implemented with community engagement.
The work is large-scale and covers vast areas of expertise. This is why ASLA is asking the government to continue to require licensure for landscape architects. This entails passing a nationally administered examination in four parts. Landscape architects need to have a rigorous higher education centered on STEM because their work affects public safety, health, and welfare.
They must be able to address the problems that come with high urbanization, the rehabilitation of sites after industrial misuse, the pollution of water bodies, the rise of the sea level, storm surges, and wildfires. They must also be ready to have solutions that provide efficient transportation networks, site security, landscapes that prevent crime, and the protection and management of the country’s natural and cultural heritage.
Sustainable Landscape Architecture
ASLA supports the current government’s targets to bring down carbon emissions. It emphasizes the need for sustainable use of the land, water management, and green infrastructure. It joins the government in seeking solutions to mitigate climate change.
The association, therefore, requests the immediate reversal of the previous administration’s policies, regulations, and rules that harm the environment. Among these are NEPA that denied climate change, WOTUS that resulted in widespread water pollution, and the ACE that replaced the previous CPP, resulting in air pollution for coal plants and other fuel facilities.
ASLA is calling for the adoption of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) in all government-funded projects. SITES ensures that projects use renewable and low-carbon sources of energy. It also implements practices designed to conserve, improve, and restore the capacity of landscapes to store carbon.
To reduce the number of private vehicles on the road and reduce emissions, ASLA recommends an overhaul of the current transportation system. It wants to provide communities with healthy and more affordable alternatives such as safe walking routes, hiking trails, a comprehensive network of bicycle lanes, and accessible public transportation. It also highlights the need to protect the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
Landscape Architecture that Promotes Equality
ASLA is calling for government policies to use environmental design in addressing issues of social and racial injustice. It states that landscape architects are capable of creating common spaces that reduce crime and promote community interaction and harmony instead.
The association supports H.R. 5986, an act that provides pollution protection for all communities. It also allocates grants to establish outdoor spaces and other recreational venues for communities that are significantly underserved. The act also increases the accessibility of public lands. ASLA highlights that those open spaces, such as forests, trails, and parks, provide health benefits to communities and help against climate change.
Finally, ASLA wants projects that ensure the accessibility of safe drinking water for all communities, especially low-income groups, people of color, and indigenous and tribal communities. These include the initiatives to restore Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. Landscape architects can address the erosion of the shorelines and invasive species to restore habitat and improve the quality of the water.
From now on, when you think of landscaping and landscape architects, you will no longer think only of private residential yards. The landscape includes everything around us, and they can have a hand in improving all of it.