A Garden Designer is a professional or amateur who designs the plan and features of gardens. While professional designers are more experienced and work for various clients for set fees, amateurs design their own gardens or those of friends and relatives just as a hobby.
Garden designs and landscape design work hand in hand. They deal with topography, water and drainage, planting, aesthetics, building and construction, site characteristics, climate and genius loci. Garden designers are trained to incorporate aesthetic arts and technical arts in the design of projects.
The twentieth century has seen garden design courses change emphasis from horticulture to focus more on the design aspects. The traditional apprentice system in which designers used to learn the trade slowly gave way to specialist college-level landscape planning and design courses. Today, ornamental horticulture and landscape architecture departments of various universities continue to churn out modern garden designers.
By virtue of historical periods and professional discipline, there has been an evolution of design methods for constructing gardens. From renaissance gardens that were drawn by pen and paper to contemporary ones that are drawn solely with computer software, the process of the design has always influenced the end product.
There have been attempts to distinguish between landscape design and Garden Design. A typical Garden Designer will build around plant palettes while Landscape designers build around space considerations and place-making to create architectural spaces and circulation routes with plants and other elements. An appreciation of this can be seen in gardens that have interesting plants but were not planned as a whole and integrated composition; and well planned gardens – in terms of overall designs, that lack interesting planting details.
Some designers have a wide knowledge with plants but lack conceptual designs, other very exposed landscape architects and designers lack horticultural and botanical know-how. Any good Garden Designer must be able to do both – create beautiful and interesting gardens on sustainable landscapes.