Registered Master Landscapers is supporting the industry in the move towards more environmentally friendly products and procedures
In light of recent weather extremes in New Zealand, businesses around the country are being asked to consider the impact of their work.
Registered Master Landscapers (RML) is supporting and celebrating members’ efforts to minimise the environmental impact of their operations through its environmental policy and Landscapes of Distinction (LOD) awards.
The LOD awards now include an ‘Environmental’ category, which evaluates sustainability in materials and management practices. The 2022 winner of the category was Green Therapy, for its work on Bob’s Cove Retreat at Lake Wakatipu.
Green Therapy employed strong environmental practices throughout the project, such as the reuse of onsite resources, biodegradable woollen weed mat mulch and eco-sourcing and pest control.
Director Bryce Coulter says that once clients saw what was possible at Bob’s Cove, they started to enquire about using similar techniques on their own projects.
“A lot of our new clients want to use practices such as low water planting and the removal of pest weed species, which is great for the environment.”
New products and methods are great, but Coulter says the best way to be sustainable is to do the simple things right.
“We put the right plant in the right place. If we don’t, plants require more maintenance, which means more watering and more trips to site. We’ll also include plants that help create biodiversity.”
Coulter is a huge fan of biodegradable landscape products such as woollen weed mat mulch – also used on Bob’s Cove.
“Wool is a fantastic product for regulating temperature and retaining soil moisture, so growth rates are fantastic and, by the time the plants have grown, the mat rots away naturally.”
Natural Habitats’ Wellington Regional Manager Iain Prescott says that larger developers – often with council involvement – specifically ask for natural fibre matting to be used for mulching and weed suppression. One project at Invercargill Airport requested Advance Landscapes FuturFibre Hemp Rolls.
“We have also started integrating suggestions to promote local wildlife into our tenders,” Prescott adds. “For example, we can do simple things like putting down small shelters for newts and lizards to live under.”
Natural Habitats also has experience installing green walls, which helps reclaim the built environment, improve air quality, reduce energy consumption and improve stormwater management.
“Green walls are great for the environment and give buildings a real 'wow' factor,” says Prescott. “It’s an area we’re seeing a lot more interest in compared to, say, five years ago.”
Aside from using innovative products, Green Therapy and Natural Habitats like to control the controllables.
“We do small things like recycling plant pots and we’ve introduced our first electric vehicle to our fleet,” says Coulter.
Prescott adds that Natural Habitats has also started to electrify its processes.
“We’ve introduced hybrid vehicles to our fleet and we’re moving away from diesel. Additionally, some of our maintenance vans have solar panels on the roof, which we use to charge our electric lawnmowers and strimmers.”
Coulter says that clients are driving landscapers to improve environmental practices as much as, if not more than, regulations. “An increasing request is to use local materials and to recycle materials on site. We love getting creative with recycled timber elements and have been lucky to source some pretty amazing materials for some jobs, such as 120-year-old, beautifully weathered West Coast bridging timber from Interlink and other suppliers. Incorporating stone from local quarries also seems to be a very personal thing to a lot of Kiwis.”
Natural Habitats’ experience in commercial projects means that the jobs often need to comply with high-level environmental regulations.
“We do a lot of revegetation planting for roadside projects, while developments have to adhere to certain government regulations, such as re-establishing bush or replacing trees.”
Anthony Washington, managing director of Goom Landscapes, says that, in his experience, most environmental pressure comes from the government.
“We want to be more sustainable within our business, so we’re always considering what we can do to reduce our footprint – and that’s certainly a lot easier to do when times are good. Regulation certainly plays a bigger role when we’re working on site.”
Registered Master Landscapers is committed to supporting landscape professionals and young future leaders.