Defining the Role of a Landscape Architect

And how it may apply to your project.

Every landscape architect will have their own unique description of what they do. From historical preservation, to golf course design, commercial projects, residential, and property management, landscape architects are involved. The field of landscape architecture overlaps many studies including ecology, engineering, architecture, sociology, horticulture, soil sciences, graphic communication and art, to name a few. Fredrick Law Olmstead is considered the father of American landscape architecture and pioneered the field in the late nineteenth century.

One of Fredrick Law Olmstead greatest works was Central Park in New York City. At 840 acres, Central Park is a true oasis in the middle of the city, a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. The trees provide shade from the sun on hot summer days. The pathways meander through scenic landscapes and frames views that inspire. This is a timeless masterpiece that keeps reinventing itself. Even though parts of the park were closed due to the pandemic, users were still able to walk through the park and experience the positive effect of nature.

Aerial view of Central Park lake in autumn.

Definition of a Landscape Architect:

From the ASLA: Landscape architecture involves the planning, design, management, and nurturing of the built and natural environments. With their unique skill set, landscape architects work to improve human and environmental health in all communities. They plan and design parks, campuses, streetscapes, trails, plazas, residences, and other projects that strengthen communities. 

Illinois Title Law: Landscape architects are responsible for arranging outdoor spaces and objects to create a safe, efficient, healthful and aesthetically pleasing environment.

Colorado Code of Regulations: Landscape architects lead the planning, design, and stewardship of healthy, equitable, safe, and resilient environments.

The role of a landscape architect is to know what professional to turn to solve a complex problem in the landscape, knowing when to consult a civil engineer or architect. The difference between an engineered solution and one by a landscape architect – an engineered solution will be more of a mathematical, efficient solution, where the landscape architecture solution takes more of the character of the site as a whole into consideration. 

Landscape architects are not substitutes for engineers, architects, and other scientists, but there is some overlap in the tasks a landscape architect performs, such as preparation of grading plans, design of decks, outdoor structures, and retaining walls. The landscape architects at Mack Land focus on commercial landscape design plans.

Different states have different laws governing what landscape architects can do.  One of the biggest challenges that one faces after going through the rigorous process of an accredited landscape architecture program and the following testing for licensure, is others claiming to be able to do the same without the same credentials. 

Bethesda Terrace in Central Park.

Every landscape architect tends to develop their own niche in the field. Here at Mack Land, we are swimming pool specialists. We remove old pools and install new ones.  When we remove swimming pools, we make a great effort to restore the yard as much as possible to how it was prior to the pool.  Taking into consideration character, grading, and soil profiles so that when we are completed with our project, you can not tell there was a pool there. 

As a commitment to the sustainability of the swimming pool industry, we recommend hauling all of the old pool offsite. This is to make the area where the pool was as usable as possible. You never know when a future resident may want to put a pool back in.

During a pool removal, a lot of landscape problems can come up.  Such as what to do next, figuring out hardscape issues, designing of a new patio and planting, and in general, how to utilize the new space. 

When we install swimming pools, we design custom pools and hardscape to meet the needs of our clients with functional space, adding value and character to the area.  Creating a backyard oasis that adds long lasting value to the property.  One of our biggest assets is that our pool removal business has given us a unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t. 

If you are looking for a landscape architect to help you with your next project, give us a call. We would love to work with you.

10 Common Pool Removal Mistakes

Most pool removal mistakes are because you hired the wrong contractor.  

We often get frustrated calls from homeowners and contractors to fix pool removal mistakes.  Sometimes we get called while the pool removal is still in progress and they have concerns.  We generated this list of common pool removal mistakes to help inform people about pool removal pitfalls.

The value of performance and client experience is often overlooked.

Having a swimming pool in disrepair can be stressful and frustrating.  You’ve made the decision to remove your pool and the contractor shows up unannounced with a big machine and surprises you.  Now you are genuinely concerned and wondering what you signed up for. Here is what you need to think about before you sign that low bid, what the experience will be like and the results in the end. 

10 COMMON POOL REMOVAL MISTAKES

  1. Be aware of referral/marketing services that are not referring the best contractors for the job.  The lowest bid is most likely not the best bid and you can’t always trust online reviews
  1. Is the pool being demolished to meet or exceed local pool removal code? How would you like it if you bought a house where the contractor cut corners with the pool removal?   
  1. Are you hiring the right company that is qualified to set grades/slope of the land for proper drainage (landscape architects, engineers, and land surveyors) and has the precision equipment to get it done right?
  1. Be aware of companies that say all they do is remove swimming pools, making it seem like they are an expert because it is all they do.  These contractors may give you the low price you want but they are not concerned about restoration, the impact to your property and client experience through the process
  1. The quality of restoration, grading, seed or sod and providing fertile topsoil at proper depth, is what makes it look like the pool was never there. The easy part is wrecking the pool, the real work is putting the place back together and making it look like there never was a pool. 
  1. The contract does not clearly specify how the job will get done.  A lot of contractors do not like putting down plywood/ground protection. Make sure you clearly understand local codes. Is the concrete is staying or is it being removed? Are they bringing in properly licensed contractors to disconnect the utilities?
  1. Some contractors try to save time using oversized equipment causing unnecessary impact your property and roads. 
  1. Not being aware of the surroundings, trees roots, utilities, property lines, and taking the wrong access path.
  1. Attempting to move forward with a pool removal when the ground is too saturated with water or substantial rain is on its way.  This causes increased trauma to the yard and the road with heavy trucks, it is harder to clean up the jobsite, and not possible achieve proper compaction.
  1. Homeowners attempting it themselves. Most of the time they underestimate how much work they will be doing and time it will take and give up before they are halfway done. Also, they run the risk of doing costly damage to rental equipment and possibly injuring themselves.  

Mack Land Landscape Architects & Contractors is a swimming pool specialist.  We design and install pools and we are America’s leading expert on swimming pool removals.  Our local markets are Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and Colorado.  If you are outside those markets, give us a call we are still happy to help. 

Are you on the fence about removing your pool?  Give us a call and we can consult you on your options: repairing your pool, removing your pool, or installing a new one.   We guarantee client satisfaction and make sure the job is done right the first time. We also make sure the client has a good experience from beginning to end.   

How Much Does it Cost to Remove a Swimming Pool

AVERAGE COST OF REMOVING A POOL WITH RESTORATION

 GOOD ACCESS (10’ WIDTH)LIMITED (6’ WIDTH)POOR ACCESS
Full Pool Removal$10 – 14K$12 – 16K$20K and up
Low Impact Pool Removal$7.5 – 10K$10 – 14K$15K and up
Basic Pool Removal$6.5 – 9K$7 – 12K$12K and up
Above Ground Pool Removal$1.5 – 3K$2 – 4K$4 – 6K

Note: Many other contractors do not properly restore the access path and pool area to a professional level. Don’t be fooled by lower prices that don’t include professional restoration.

COMPARING PRICES

Comparing apples to apples is just about impossible. In most cases we provide a scope of services that you would have to go multiple contractors to get the same scope of work completed. This is something anyone can do, but to do it correctly in a timely manner you need to have the right equipment and experience. Anyone can fill in hole, but the difference is the in the possibility of settling and impact/trauma to your property by the equipment being used. An excavation company may be cheaper, but they are not going to restore damage to your yard and will likely want to use over kill equipment causing unnecessary trauma to your property. Other landscape companies do not have the equipment or demolition knowledge to complete the project in safe timely manner without future issues.

COMMON QUESTIONS

Settling is the most common question asked. To date Mack Land, LLC has never had an issue with settling on a pool removal. Why? Because we fill in thin even layers and compact it evenly as we fill the pool in.

How long will it take?

Most in ground pool removals are completed in 3-7 days. Above ground pool removals are completed in one to two days.

Who gets the permits?

Mack Land, LLC will obtain all permit as part of our services.

How do we get started?

Mack Land, LLC will start the permit process with a signed contract and a copy of your plat of survey.

What is PGE?

PGE is a regional classification of coarse gravel. PGE is 6-8” minus recycled fractured concrete gravel with fines suitable for use as sub base for roads or for general structural fill. Mack Land, LLC will process all concrete
associated with the pool into PGE and use it as fill material.

What is better sod or seed?

Seed is by far the best way to go. Grass grown from seed will develop a more drought tolerant root system and blend into your existing lawn better. Also with sod it very possible to get grubs and other pests from the sod farm.

When do you need the project deposit?

Mack Land, LLC prefers to pick up the deposit check in person after the permits are approved. Mack will deliver the permits and pick up the deposit check at that time. The remaining balance is due on completion.