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35 Perfect Gifts for Landscape Architecture Graduates

Updated and expanded for 2023 grads, with more tech, more cult books, and a few surprising must-haves for the newly minted designer.

By the LAM Editorial Advisory Committee*

Well, it’s finally happened. You (or your family member/friend/roommate/mentee/colleague) have graduated from a landscape architecture program, and you’re ready to start your career as a design professional. Landing a job is first up, but there are tips and gear that can help you feel more prepared to start on your path.

LAM is here to help. Below, you’ll find the LAM Gift Guide for Landscape Architecture Graduates updated for 2023. Sourced directly from the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Committee, a group of 15 landscape architects from across the profession, the items in this guide are both practical and poetic.

Personal Gifts for Professional Growth

ASLA Associate Membership
At only $65 annually, associate membership includes a wealth of resources and networking opportunities for the new graduate. And you get the print version of LAM to boot.

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks in an array of colors
Customize your notebooks with words of encouragement.

Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbooks
With your personal notes added:

  • An “Encouragement Sketchbook” that includes your notes of support written on random pages throughout.
  • A “Challenge Sketchbook” with a list of challenges and a checkbox next to them so the student can check them off as accomplished.
  • A “Prompt Sketchbook” with ideas for things to draw sprinkled throughout.

“I’ve given this gift once, but I know they appreciated it for literally years after it was given. The first year out of school is tough. It’s nice to give encouragement that stays with people, supporting them the more they use the gift.” —Charles Kene Okigbo, ASLA

The “Default Trees in Plan” enamel pin set by Pin Prick is handmade and available on Etsy. Image courtesy Etsy.

Landscape Architecture Cuff Links/Pins on Etsy
“If the phrase designer chic means something to you or your loved one, then these cuff links/pins are a great way of complementing their aesthetic.” —Charles Kene Okigbo, ASLA

Custom Outdoor Pillows
“It would be super cool to print student project images.” —Bo Zhang, ASLA

(Almost) All the Books

Critical Zones: The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel.
“A compendium of brilliant thinkers writing concisely about an array of climate change topics—from soils to the supersonic. It is a newly added primary text in my Natural History of Cities course.” —Ron Henderson, FASLA

250 Things a Landscape Architect Should Know is a response to the manifesto by Michael Sorkin.

250 Things a Landscape Architect Should Know edited by B. Cannon Ivers.
Read the review at LAM Online. “Great advice from the masters! It will take decades to learn some of this info, so this will give you a jump on successful practitioners’ knowledge and practices.” —Meg Calkins, FASLA

Adventures in Eden: An Intimate Tour of the Private Gardens of Europe by Carolyn Mullet.

Dry Stone Walls: Fundamentals, Construction Guidelines, Significance by Swiss Environmental Action Foundation.
“As beautiful and inspiring as it is practical. Concerned with losing the art of building stone walls, the Swiss government commissioned the creation of this book, which included intensive field research, photography, hand drawn technical details, and text.” —Diana Boric, Associate ASLA

Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher.
“I admire Larry Weaner for his unique talent in combining environmental science and gardening design. A true plant guru; very inspirational.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Cover of Planting in a Post-Wild World
Ecological plant design and maintenance are covered in Planting in a Post-Wild World.

Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West.
“I loved this book for inspiring me to design robust, diverse, aesthetically pleasing native plant communities that outcompete traditional turf-dominated yards.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Ready, Set, Practice: Elements of Landscape Architecture Professional Practice by Bruce G. Sharky.
“This book helped me break my streak of failed LAREs before earning my license. It still sits on the shelf next to my desk at the office with bookmarks holding the pages on construction administration and bidding. It’s a great tool for the budding LA or even an LA in full bloom.” —Charles Kene Okigbo, ASLA

Up by Roots: Healthy Soils and Trees in the Built Environment by James Urban.
“I recommend this book for anyone who is designing, specifying, installing, and managing trees. It is invaluable and my copy is dog-eared from continual referencing.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Cover of the Architecture of Trees
Botanical drawings that illustrate the aesthetic value of trees.

The Architecture of Trees by Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi.
“It really is one of those books that feels too big of a splurge to buy for yourself. Large drawings of trees, with and without leaves to scale.—Diana Boric, Associate ASLA

With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature by Rachel Kaplan, Stephen Kaplan, and Robert Ryan.
“I think every landscape architect who cares about people should have a copy of this book on their shelf. All the drawings are done by a landscape architect, visualizing deep concepts in clear and simple ways.” —Sara Hadavi, ASLA

Also suggested: Regional plant guides specific to the place where the graduate will be working.

Gear for Studio, Field, and Office 

The Filson line of bags combines design and utility for the landscape architect in the field. Credit: Drew Coffman (CC BY 2.0)

Filson Field Bag 
To carry your gear.

Copic Sketch Markers (sets or individual) and Copic Sketch Marker wallet
“I love these markers. So smooth and blendable. They come in many colors.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Helvetica Architect Pencil 

Sakura Micron Pens and Sets (varying line widths)
“You can never have too many pens, especially these, which maintain a variety of consistent line weights!” —Meg Calkins, FASLA

US Tape ProTape 3/8” x 50’ Tape Measure 45322
“Measuring tape is a necessary fieldwork tool. This keychain clip is small and still measures considerable length. I really encourage carrying one, even off the clock. You never know when or where you’ll encounter a perfect (or terrible) landscape moment worthy of study. Pairs well with notebooks and pens.” —Petra Marar, ASLA


Nisaku NJP651 Hori Weeding & Digging
The Hori Weeding and Digging Knife in Japanese stainless steel will doubtless come in handy.

Nisaku Hori Knife for weeding and digging.

Niwaki Golden Spade

SAMLITE LED Tactical Flashlight with 5 Options
“If you haven’t gotten so absorbed and lost in a landscape that you suddenly find yourself shrouded in darkness, you really should—but make sure to keep a flashlight with you! The red laser pointer and UV blacklight add multipurpose appeal for a wide range of explorers and teachers.” —Petra Marar, ASLA

“Or almost anything from” Diana Boric, Associate ASLA

Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy & Oak Scrub
Multiple endorsements for this item, including, “It’s going to happen on a site visit sometime, so you may as well be prepared.” —Meg Calkins, FASLA

Elta MD UV Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Protect yourself from the elements during fieldwork.

Elta MD UV Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 50
“Because new hires always seem to get delegated to do fieldwork.” —Daniel McElmurray, ASLA

Tech Toys and Tools

Apple iPad Pro
“It’s my go-to for taking photos in the field, and if you have apps like Procreate or Morpholio Trace you can draw or sketch over those photos right away.” —David Toda, ASLA

image of DJI mini drone
The DJI mini drone is a landscape architect favorite for site analysis.

DJI Mini Drone
“New LA grads can use a drone to get real time site inventory information and detailed views of site features. Landscape architects I know like the DJI mini drone, as it has decent battery life, great safety features, and automation for landing and takeoff that are essential for new pilots.” —Meg Calkins, FASLA

Paper Shoot Camera
Two endorsements for this product. “Not as expensive as a DSLR but still creates imagery that brings a level of nostalgia like a Polaroid, but with more image capacity.” —Graciela Martin, Associate ASLA

Rhino 3D License
“After June, students won’t be able to buy it using their student discount. Students can continue to develop their portfolios and the license is good for life.” —Diana Boric, Associate ASLA

Morpholio Trace
“This is a great tool for collaborative design while working remotely. You can draw on and annotate existing base drawings, design sketches, and construction drawings in virtual team collaborations.” —Meg Calkins, FASLA

A lavalier microphone
Lavalier mics are a must for creating landscape architecture podcasts.

Elgato Wave:3 Microphone and a Lavelier Microphone
For podcasting.

PictureThis plant identification app
“I use PictureThis and it is fabulous. It’s the only app that I am happy to actually pay for. I’ve used it in various plant zones and on multiple continents. It has yet to disappoint.” —Charles Kene Okigbo, ASLA

SketchUp Go
“I have used SketchUp since its early days and I’m a huge fan of this intuitive 3D design software. There is a whole community of SketchUp users who are just as passionate and willing to help new users.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Adobe Creative Cloud
“You can’t practice without it! Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and more!” —Meg Calkins, FASLA

Associate professor Ebru Ozer, ASLA, embraces a new graduate at Florida International University’s commencement. Credit: Ebru Ozer, ASLA.

*Thank you to the LAM Editorial Advisory Committee, past and present,  for these recommendations: Monique Bassey, ASLA; Diana Boric, Associate ASLA; Meg Calkins, FASLA; Michelle Davis, ASLA; Sara Hadavi, ASLA; Ron Henderson, FASLA; Susan Kenzle, ASLA; Jiali Liu, Associate ASLA; Petra Marar, ASLA; Graciela Martin, Associate ASLA; Maren McBride, ASLA; Daniel McElmurray, ASLA; Dennis R. Nola, FASLA; Charles Kene Okigbo, ASLA; Andrew Sargeant, ASLA; David Toda, ASLA; Mackenzie Wendling, ASLA; and Bo Zhang, ASLA.

Every product has been independently selected by the LAM Editorial Advisory Committee. ASLA may earn a commission on certain products if you purchase through the links.

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