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Meet Jennifer Horn, ASLA

Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture (JHLA) Arlington, Virginia


Jennifer Horn, ASLA

In 1991, Jennifer Horn worked at a nursery in Virginia, which led her to study horticulture at Virginia Tech, then pursue a MLA at the University of Georgia. From 1999 to 2009 Horn practiced landscape architecture in New York City, designing exhibits for the Bronx Zoo, developing the ecological program for Fresh Kills Park and designing gardens, estates and parks for Edmund Hollander Landscape Architect and Deborah Nevins Associates.

She founded Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture (JHLA) in 2009, designing luxury landscapes for homes, communities and resorts. The work includes patios; hardscapes; masonry walls; terraces; pergolas; herb and vegetable gardens; outdoor kitchens/bars and fire pits; sports courts; custom swimming pools/water features; landscape lighting; native plants; and community parks. Other projects include school courtyard designs in Ocean City, N.J., and Queens, N.Y. JHLA has also provided strategic planning documents for communities as diverse as Fairfax, Va., and Lanai, Hawaii.

In 2012, Horn launched Garden Gurus LLC, which focuses on clients who want to make landscape improvements for their homes but need guidance from a professional.

Licensed in New York, Virginia and Maryland Education:
MLA, University of Georgia, School of Environmental Design, 1999
Virginia Tech University, College of Agriculture and Life Science,
Bachelors in Horticulture; Minor in Small Business Management, 1996

Professional Experience:
Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture, Arlington, Va. Owner and Principal, 2009-present
Deborah Nevins Associates, NYC, Senior Project Manager and Landscape Architect, 2006-2010
Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, N.Y., Project Manager, Senior Landscape Architectural Designer, 2003-2006
Edmund Hollander Design, NYC, Landscape Architectural Designer, 2002-2003
NYC Department of City Planning, City Planner at the Waterfront and Open Space Division, 1999-2002

In Print:
Consumer Reports; Hearth & Home; Home & Design ("Top 100 Designers"); Luxe Magazine; Northern Virginia Magazine; Real Simple Magazine


St. Mary's, Maryland
For this riverside home in Maryland JHLA first cleared the area between the house and river from all invasive trees, shrubs and vines. The garden incorporates natives, butterfly plants and wildflowers. Wildflower meadow mixes were incorporated in the front and back gardens, with mowed paths creating walkable spaces between. Pathways were built of oversized flagstone and planted with mazus and thyme.


Chevy Chase, Maryland
The particular challenge for this corner lot was how to best make a back garden out of the very wide and very shallow space. Instead of opting for a traditional suburban garden JHLA instead established a walled garden. Each "chapter" of the garden corresponds to a room in the house: outside the kitchen sits a terrace of bluestone surrounded by herbs. The dining room is planted with white flowers, to better reflect moonlight during dinner parties. Finally the sunroom is planted with summer blooming species like climbing roses and Siberian iris.


Kalorama, Washington, D.C.
This client presented us with a specific design problem: the fountain and upper basin sprayed water all over the terrace, rendering the far end of the garden inhabitable. Second, the client's enthusiastic black Labrador trampled any and all plants. JHLA renovated the freestanding basin and fountain in the garden by adding a rill and lower basin, plus a raised bed on the far side of the garden. The raised bed and rill keep the dog from trampling plants. JHLA further added boxes above the retaining wall and planted them with trailing plants, further adding greenery inaccessible to the dog. JHLA also replaced the paving with thermal bluestone with a clean modern running bond.


Bethesda, Maryland
Working with Jeff Broadhurst Architects, who remodeled the kitchen and added the back covered porch, Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture enlarged the side terrace and added an outdoor kitchen for these avid cooks. A grill and range were built into a new masonry island and a location for a smoker was identified. A large outdoor bar with stainless steel countertop doubles as a storage compartment. For the garden surrounding the new porch JHLA used a variety of deer resistant, shade-tolerant garden plants like paperbush, sky pencil holly, foamflower and coral bells, focusing on color, structure and texture. A prefab bubbler, selected by the owner, sits on axis with the porch.

Q & A

1. What was the pivotal or motivating factor(s) that made you choose a career in landscape architecture?
While in high school, I had a part time job in retail at the mall. And I hated it. The plant nursery nearby was hiring so I checked it out - the idea of working outside appealed to me. Over the months, I fell in love with learning the different plant species, their names and varieties and became interested in landscape design. I decided to study horticulture and then to get a masters in landscape architecture. I thought, "I'll work for a few years, then start my own design firm." I have followed that plan pretty faithfully. I'm fortunate to have become aware of this career at such a young age!

2. If you had not become a landscape architect, what profession might you have pursued?
Before I started working at the plant nursery, I had always planned to study writing or journalism.

3. What do you most enjoy about being a landscape architect?
There's so much about what I do that I love. The satisfaction that comes from seeing something get built, the combination of art and science that is required for good landscape design and the problem solving that is needed when working on a difficult site are all aspects that I love.

4. Do you think women landscape architects generally get the same respect as their male counterparts? Have you experienced any discrimination because of your gender within the profession or by clients?
I don't know what a man's experience is as a landscape architect, so I will never be able to say definitively, but I think generally women in our field are treated differently than their male counterparts. Particularly when I was younger, I felt I had to work extra hard to prove myself to other professionals, contractors in particular. Landscape construction is still quite male-dominated and at times I think my input has been overlooked. That's rare these days, perhaps in part due to changing times, but also due to the fact my experience and knowledge has increased in step with my confidence. All that said, a landscaper did call me "baby" this summer! I had to let him know that was not cool.
This year I've put quite a bit of thought into my role as a woman landscape architect and business owner. I'm having a baby this October and once I began to show, I've had to address impending motherhood with would-be clients and collaborators. Some people are not affected by this status at all, whereas others have projected quite a bit. A few colleagues have told me how hard it will be to run a business with a baby or how little time I will have. That's a pretty damning assumption to make about a business owner, especially when the people making these observations have no idea what resources I have available to me in regards to childcare, etc. It's disappointing and I suspect few fathers-to-be are openly told they will perform poorly at their job when their baby comes.

5. When you first meet people not affiliated with the profession and explain that you are a landscape architect, how do you describe what you do?
First, there's the stock distinction that I am not a landscaper or contractor - that I don't install plants. Then, as a residential landscape architect, I try to explain that I work on designing "everything except the house."

6. What in particular do you attribute your success to?
A professor in grad school told me I shouldn't worry about succeeding, because I "could write well and wasn't a jerk." Obviously having talent, knowledge, professional experience and a work ethic is important, but successful communication with clients, architects, contractors, etc., is vital. And working well with people - respecting every team member's input and trying to treat everyone fairly - is important, too.

7. What is (are) the most important contribution(s) made by landscape architects in the field of design today?
I think stormwater management is the biggest issue we face as landscape architects. Certainly we see large-scale, infrastructural projects address this, but even on a smaller residential level, I am working with clients on how to better prepare for the storm events that are trending heavier and heavier.

8. How has the landscape architecture profession changed since you first began working in the field?
Certainly there's a greater emphasis on sustainability. Stormwater management is taken quite seriously and landscape architects are more and more often a required team member on municipal projects that require adherence to specific minimum standards for capturing rainwater. When I was in school, plants like Barberry and Burning Bush were quite popular, whereas now we see them and others on easily-accessible lists of invasive species to avoid. I also think that the general public has a better idea of what landscape architects do and clients are certainly more savvy about design. The combination of makeover shows on television and social media websites like Houzz and Pinterest help cultivate more knowledgeable clients.

9. What career advice would you give to recently graduated landscape architectural students as they enter the profession?
For my firm, building beautiful, functional landscapes depends on good collaboration with contractors. With that in mind, I would encourage recent grads to get their hands dirty.
Working for a year or two in a design-build firm helps one better understand how landscapes are built - abstract concepts become real construction. It also develops a comfort level with being on a construction site, which helps build confidence and trust among the construction team. My most recent hire had three years' experience in a design-build firm and that specifically landed him the job with my office.
Also, write a personalized thoughtful cover letter. If I get a boilerplate letter in a job application, I'm unlikely to even review the work samples. Regarding the portfolio itself, only show excellent work - do not make potential employers sift through four mediocre images for every great one; better to be more selective.

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2016.

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November 19, 2019, 10:26 pm PDT

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