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Landscape Views - Issue 20

This is a column by landscapers, for landscapers. In it, you’ll find knowledge, views and insights from professionals just like you, who are currently working in the industry


Q. What are the biggest driving forces behind the increased desire for environmentally friendly design?


Southern Landmarx

Interviewee: Joe Nutting – Director Location: Central Otago

Staff: 16


We're seeing a lot of push for increased sustainability coming from our clients. One way we achieve that is to make sure we’re using plants that can survive the hot and cold of Central Otago without being irrigated too much, which cuts down on water usage.

We have our own nursery, so determining which plants meet the criteria is an area that we can keep developing over the next few years. Another area we’re focused on is using more environmentally friendly products, by trying to cut down on how much weed suppression we do with chemical weedkillers. Again, that’s coming more from clients than regulation.

If we can use plants with better survival rates, we can reduce the amount of water needed to keep them alive and, at the same time, spray less chemical weed suppression over gardens. Those are areas where we can get some ‘quick’ wins in terms of our environmentally friendly approach.


Lastly, I’ve noticed that products are changing to include ingredients that are better for the environment, which is a result of market pressure from customers, who want companies to develop these products - as opposed to government regulation.


XTERIORSCAPES

Interviewee: Hayden Stark – Director

Location: Canterbury

Staff: 8


Some sustainable landscaping practices are definitely becoming more common, such as building natural retaining walls with sloped banks and locally sourced native plantings and using local rock and recycled bridge beams instead of treated timber for ditch drains or concrete pipes, especially alongside waterways. I think that’s great, because it has the potential to reduce construction costs while introducing more native species to the environment. We have worked alongside ecologists in waterway areas to turn old drains into areas where local fauna, or fish and invertebrates can thrive.

In terms of using more environmentally friendly materials, such as permeable concrete or pavers, it has been driven by council planning and site coverage rules, especially for our inner-city developments.

On the other hand, there is some change that’s being driven by how clients. Clients are more aware of where products originate and are often requesting that we use FSC-certified hardwood for timber decking, locally sourced native plants that require less use of water and maintenance for planting and reclaimed materials such as stone from the site for new paved areas or walls. We are also seeing more interest in harvesting rainwater from house and shed roofs for irrigation.


Green Therapy

Interviewee: Bryce Coulter – Director

Location: Canterbury

Staff: 7


Clients are definitely driving demands for improved environmental practices. In the past two years, I don’t think we’ve done a project where the lawn hasn’t either been removed, reduced or replaced with more biodiverse planting.


If clients are looking to head in this direction, we encourage conversations around decisions that contribute to good environmental practice. This usually leads to three suggestions: to incorporate a good percentage of native plants into designs, to work with plants that nurture local wildlife, and to include edible plants into a client’s planting scheme.

I wouldn’t say our industry and the clients we work for have pivoted towards environmental awareness quickly, but we’re all experiencing it more and more and it feels like an unstoppable change!

We like to promote our environmental credentials on our website but, at the end of the day, the best way to show it off is in the end product. Even novice gardeners can easily tell the difference between a well-planted, balanced, healthy garden full of wildlife and a poorly prepped site full of ill-fitting plants!

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