The LAM Gift Guide for Landscape Architecture Graduates

The LAM Gift Guide for Landscape Architecture Graduates

Books, tech, and lots of pens to set the newly minted designer up right.

By the LAM Editorial Advisory Committee

Well, it’s finally happened. Your family member/friend/mentee/colleague has graduated from a BLA or MLA program, and they’re ready to start their journey as a landscape architecture professional. Now that they’ve finished school, you want to buy them a gift that shows them you get what they do and why they’re passionate about it.

A University of Kentucky graduate exhorts her fellow students to “Be the change.” Credit: @uky_landscapearchitecture/University of Kentucky (UK) Landscape Architecture.

LAM is here to help. Below, you’ll find the first-ever LAM Gift Guide for Landscape Architecture Graduates. 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.

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.

Personal Gifts for Professional Growth

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

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, $11.80–$36.73
“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

Leuchtturm1917 Sketchbooks $16.50–$36.95
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. At various points throughout the year, I would get a thank you message for the same gift I gave at their graduation. 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


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, $34.99
“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

Critical Zones: The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, $60.45
“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

Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner, $39.95
“I admire Larry Weaner for his unique talent in combining environmental science and gardening design. A true plant guru; very inspirational.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West, $39.95
“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

Arizona State University’s BSLA Graduation 2022. Credit: Givensel.

With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature by Rachel Kaplan, Stephen Kaplan, and Robert Ryan, $42
“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

Up by Roots by James Urban, $97.95
“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

Ready, Set, Practice: Elements of Landscape Architecture Professional Practice by Bruce G. Sharky, $98.75
“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

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

Tools 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 $275–$395

Copic Sketch Markers (sets or individual) 6-piece set from $24, 12-piece set from $66, 72-piece set $300+
“I love these markers. So smooth and blendable. They come in many colors.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Copic Sketch Marker wallet $22–$44

Helvetica Architect Pencil $15

Sakura Micron Pens and Sets (varying line widths) $3–$20
“You can never have too many pens, especially these, which maintain a variety of consistent line weights!” —Meg E. Calkins, FASLA

Alumicolor Drafting fan $15.78

US Tape ProTape 3/8” x 50’ Tape Measure 45322 $74.94
“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

SAMLITE LED Tactical Flashlight with 5 Options $19.99
“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

“This scrub has helped me avoid the nasty rash and to recover from it more times than I care to remember.” —Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy/Oak Scrub $19.94
Multiple endorsements for this item, including, “It’s going to happen on a site visit sometime, so you may as well be prepared.” —Meg E. Calkins, FASLA


Wacom Pen Tablet $399.95–$2,829.95

Air Pods Pro $249

Morpholio Trace Sketch $99
“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 E. Calkins, FASLA

Software Subscriptions
Concepts Sketching Pricing varies.

PictureThis plant identification app, $29.99 annually
“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 plan: SketchUp Go $199
“I have used SketchUp since its early days and I’m a huge fan of this intuitive 3-D 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 $54.99 monthly
“You can’t practice without it! Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, and more!” —Meg E. Calkins, FASLA

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

The LAM Editorial Advisory Committee consists of W. Phillips Barlow, ASLA; Benjamin M. Boisclair, ASLA; Elizabeth Boults, ASLA; Meg E. Calkins, FASLA; Sara Hadavi, Associate ASLA; Ron Henderson, FASLA; Susan Kenzle, ASLA; Jeanne M. Lukenda, ASLA; Lily Mank, Associate ASLA; Petra Marar, ASLA; Maren McBride, ASLA; Dennis R. Nola, FASLA; Charles Kene Okigbo, ASLA; David Jacob Toda, Associate ASLA; Mackenzie David Wendling, Associate ASLA.