Two decades ago, a couple of East Coast landscape designers thought it would be a great idea to share ideas and to network with others in the profession. Today, the organization they launched—the Association of Professional Landscape Designers—boasts some 1,300 members across the United States and around the world.
“We share information on resources, and update each other on developments in the industry,” says association president Patricia St. John, APLD, of Berkeley, California. Although membership spans the globe, the majority of members are in the United States, where state and regional chapters form the core of APLD networking opportunities.
“There are monthly educational meetings on current topics,” St. John says, “such as sustainability, the use of environmentally sensitive materials, recycling, and new products that are on the market.” The association publishes a quarterly magazine and sends out a monthly newsletter via email to keep members up to date on events as well as industry news.
At the heart of the association is its mission: To advance landscape design as an independent profession and to promote the recognition of landscape designers as highly qualified, dedicated professionals.
Organization leaders acknowledge the profession is not well understood— and is sometimes lost in the continuum of people working in the landscape arena: landscapers, landscape maintenance contractors, nursery professionals and landscape architects. Particularly challenging, says Susan Cohan, APLD, one of the founding members of the New Jersey chapter, is educating legislators about the differences between landscape designers and landscape architects.