Designing for Wellness: How Landscape Architecture Makes Happier, Healthier Communities

Landscape architects are more than designers – we are the storytellers of the past, present, and future. We empower community voices, appreciate history, and use innovative design to create places where people thrive. Public spaces designed by landscape architects become focal points for communities, encouraging social interaction and promoting well-being. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated landscape architecture a STEM discipline in 2023.

The practice of landscape architecture considers how people of all ages and abilities will use and interact with outdoor spaces. Landscape architects use plants to improve air quality, manage water resources, and create habitats for wildlife.

Landscape Architecture Pine River Rock and Ripple

Bringing Your Vision to Life

For landscape architects, there’s nothing quite like transforming an idea into a safe, sustainable, and beautiful place. We don’t design in a vacuum – we collaborate with project stakeholders and community members. Through thoughtful discussions and creative exploration, we develop sketches, renderings, and buildable plans.

By blending form and function, we create spaces that are not only beautiful but also serve a specific purpose within a community.

Landscape Architecture Iowa State University National Pan-Hellenic Council Reaction Photo Landscape Architecture Water Plaza Community Engagement

Environmental Benefits in Landscape Architecture

By incorporating trees, native plants, and other vegetation strategically, landscape architects create urban forests that act as natural air filters, absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen. Trees along streetscapes can also shade buildings and streets, reducing the “urban heat island effect” that impacts many urban communities.

Landscape architects also design with climate change in mind, incorporating features like bioswales and permeable pavements. Bioswales not only manage stormwater runoff but also beautify streetscapes and provide natural habitats for pollinators.

Many communities face threats from extreme weather events like floods and droughts. Landscape architects design with these challenges in mind, creating green infrastructure that helps cities adapt and thrive. Permeable pavements allow rainwater to soak back into the ground, which reduces flooding. Wetlands can store excess water and filter pollutants, while bioswales, as mentioned earlier, can manage stormwater runoff.

By incorporating these elements, landscape architects create communities more resilient against the impacts of climate change.

Landscape Architecture Hocokata ti (Cultural Center), Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

Providing Creative Solutions to Complex Problems

In facing the growing urgency of environmental issues, landscape architects apply creative and technical skills to enhance life-sustaining processes and manage fragile ecosystems. Landscape architects develop context-sensitive solutions that are not only feasible and functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, landscape architects are well-versed in the application of sustainable design approaches and best management practices, and can provide measurable, evidence-based results relating to stormwater management, species diversification, and landscape performance.

Landscape Architecture Solutions Downtown Plan & Active Living

Managing Projects from Concept to Completion

Landscape architects work on all phases of a project, from initial visioning to design and construction to planning for future stewardship of a landscape. From initial concept sketches to the built product, landscape architects remain involved throughout all project phases. This includes the creation of initial design concepts, visualizations and renderings, construction documents, construction administration, project implementation, and more.

Once the project has been built, landscape architects go above and beyond and continue to ensure the project is meeting, if not exceeding expectations.

In conclusion, adding landscape architecture to your project can foster creativity, enhance community support, promote sustainable design, and allow your community’s vision to become a stunning built reality.

Landscape Architecture Bearden Promenade Concept Plan Landscape Architecture Bearden Promenade Boulder Installation

Landscape Architecture Bearden Promenade Nighttime

Landscape Architecture: Placemaking with Heart

Landscape architecture tells the story of a community through intentional placemaking. This is achieved through historic preservation, community branding, wayfinding, gateway and entrance monumentation, public art, and more. Developing a unique sense of place in turn creates a strong sense of ownership, which motivates residents to actively maintain and take pride in their community.

Landscape Architecture Downtown St. Parking Lot Levee Project

Landscape Architecture Hocokata ti (Cultural Center), Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

Green Spaces Create Community

Landscape architecture is more than just planting trees and pretty flowers. It’s about creating spaces that are functional, beautiful, and meet the needs of the community. Thoughtful design can encourage physical activity by incorporating walking and biking paths. This has positive impacts to overall public health and lowers a community’s dependance on automobiles.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature reduces stress hormones, improves mood, and even boosts our immune system. Green infrastructure such as parks and community gardens are vital for preserving the natural environment and providing a place for all walks of life to enjoy the benefits of nature.

Landscape Architecture Grassmann Park

Investing in Landscape Architecture for the Future

The field of landscape architecture continues to grow at Bolton & Menk and throughout our changing world. Landscape architecture is an investment in the health, happiness, and resilience of our communities. By creating healthier environments, we can ensure these spaces will benefit current and future generations for years to come.

Landscape Architecture Drake & Bates Park Water Playgrounds/Spraygrounds

Discover how we’ve successfully incorporated landscape architecture into projects for communities of all sizes across the Midwest and Southeast.


Katherine Gould, PLA

Katherine Gould, PLA is a project landscape architect at Bolton & Menk who began her career in 2016. She has contributed to the design of parks, streetscapes, trails, and community gathering spaces across the Midwest. Through these professional experiences and as a grassroots climate activist, Katherine has come to believe that consideration for the health of natural systems is not just a feature, but a goal integral to every successfully designed landscape. Katherine is passionate about community engagement, culturally relevant design, and practicing landscape architecture to promote public health and environmental equity.

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