Advocacy for Landscape Designers

APLDWA elevates the industry for Washington Landscape Designers. We strive to protect our profession from laws that would limit our rights to practice as a landscape designer in Washington State.

By Naomi Goodman
Professional Member, APLD

APLD dedicates time and energy to advocating for our profession. Why do we do this? The right to practice landscape design is not a guaranteed right in our state, and the ability for landscape designers to operate a thriving business is not uniformly available to our colleagues across the country.

In Washington State, we are currently able to practice quite freely as landscape designers, but we do not operate as a licensed industry in order to practice. Anyone can call himself a landscape designer under current state law, unlike other regulated industries with standards of practice codified into law. Part of the flexibility of working in an unlicensed industry means that more stringently regulated industries may feel encroachment on their territory by landscape designers. It is incumbent upon us to work with these regulated professions and ensure that the laws work for all of us, as there is enough work to go around for everyone in our state.

Nationally, there have been efforts underway in recent years to restrict the type of work that can be performed by landscape designers. Our neighbors in Oregon and California both face some of these restrictions but so far, Washington’s advocacy efforts have kept such restrictions at bay. Part of the reason that Washington landscape designers continue to have the right to practice unencumbered is because our advocacy efforts have been highly successful.

The APLD Advocacy Committee monitors state and local legislation, attends hearings and testifies when necessary, and has ongoing communication with public employees and other industry professionals to ensure our right to practice remains in place. In the last two years, we have worked diligently with the State’s Landscape Architecture Licensing Board to ensure that landscape architecture practice guidelines, created as a reference for local jurisdictions, have language that is not restrictive to landscape designers. At this time, we are cautiously optimistic that the guidelines in place will continue to move in the right direction.

When we need assistance from our members, you always respond to our requests with quick and decisive action. We will need to continue these efforts in the future and will likely call on you for assistance again. Your actions do not go unheeded. They are vital to our efforts to have a prosperous industry and robust profession. We appreciate the ability of our membership to assist with advocacy in critical times, and at the drop of a hat. We all play a part in keeping the right to practice where it belongs.

Newsworthy laws and political announcements

Governor Inslee has declared drought emergency for almost half the state’s watersheds as of April 28th. These declarations enable areas to qualify for emergency drought relief funding. For the latest updates on drought declarations click here,

A few legislative proposals making their way through the City of Seattle and State of Washington’s legislative processes could have an impact on the landscape design profession if they become law.


The City of Seattle’s Stormwater Management Code aims to protect life, property and surface waters from harm. It also conforms to state and federal requirements pertaining to clean water and pollution discharge. APLD has been following the City’s code revisions since 2009. New revisions to the code were passed by City Council April 20th and are scheduled for implementation in May of 2015.

Amendments to the code were made in Sections 22.800.040 and 22.805.060 and include updates to conform to state law, streamline requirements and reorganize and simplify the code based on community feedback.
• Roadway project thresholds for water quality treatment have been made less stringent, due to more effective pollution reduction methods. Drinking water utility projects will be exempted from certain stormwater requirements due a determination of minimal environmental benefits from previously enacted requirements.
• SPU agency flexibility was added to the code to afford ongoing monitoring of sewer basin flow control, so that the City can meet its stormwater flow control and sewer overflow objectives.


At the State Legislature this session, HB 1654 calls for the State Noxious Weed Board to conduct a pilot that replaces pollen or nectar-rich noxious weeds with noninvasive or native plants that produce similar levels of pollen and nectar supporting honeybee and pollinator populations. The study will evaluate the advantages of such a program. The proposed pilot will only impact public lands, but has the potential if deemed effective, to promote the use of noninvasive and native pollinators on a larger scale. As of late April, the bill continues to make its way through the Legislature.

HB 1100 addresses new energy efficiency standards for outdoor halogen lamps, other lighting and HVAC filters. Such standards could impact the type and availability of outdoor lighting in the marketplace. As of late April, the bill continues to make its way through the Legislature.