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Landscape Views - Issue 14

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. Are you seeing more women in landscaping?

Brett Garea Environments Ltd

Interviewee: Brett Garea - Director Location: Auckland Staff: 8

While we don’t have any females working in the company, I am seeing a few more enter the industry. There’s a couple of really good female-run maintenance companies in the area, and I’ve seen their success lead to a couple of other smaller companies entering the scene.

Those new players are mainly female-led, although they do have one or two men on their staff. It’s something I really welcome. I think those female-led maintenance companies are a lot better at what they do than men. They seem to have a brilliant eye for detail and they show far more patience with their work, there’s no question about that.

In fact, once we've completed a landscaping project and have a garden to maintain, I’ll recommend either of the two more established, female-led maintenance companies in Devenport.

More generally, I think that landscaping can be a hard sell to people looking to get into a trade – whether they’re a female or a male. We work outside 100% of the time, and it’s a really tough job. We’ll only appeal to a certain type of people and that can make getting new faces into the industry harder, male or female.

Deccan Landscape Construction

Interviewee: Paul Rice - Director/Foreman Location: Christchurch

Staff: 3

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t seen an increase in female landscapers across the region we work in – although I don’t think that’s down to the gender. The construction side of our industry is physically relentless, and a lot of people aren’t suited to this role. Some get injured, or their body isn't robust enough to last the distance.

I’ve been doing this job for 32 years and would say it’s like exposure to the sun – the work takes an accumulative toll.

That said, there are things we can do to attract good people, and being more professional is one of them. By that I mean respecting a client’s house like it’s your own, looking after tools, being polite, being on time, attention to the details and a willingness to give. I trained as a chef for 10 years, and behaviours such as those were drilled into you.

I left that life after an epiphany on a Greek island - I was sitting on the beach and I realised I needed to work outside, and not go back to my underground kitchen with no natural light, living like a mole.

Landscaping is a fantastic career and would sum it up with this old English phrase: 'Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.'

Green With Envy Landscapes

Interviewee: Rob Taku - Director/Foreman Location: Auckland

Staff: 4

A few years ago, I had my sister working with me; she’s super tough, so she could handle the rigours of the industry. She’s a pig hunter by trade, so had no worries mucking in with me!

I have seen a few females working on maintenance and, from what I’ve seen, they’re really good at it. They’ve definitely got a finer eye for detail and more patience than guys, which lends itself to that side of landscaping.

Lately we haven’t had any females on our staff and I haven’t really seen a lot working in construction – at least, not long term! I’ve seen a few move away from landscaping, because the work is so hard, whereas the guys tend to stick it out for longer.

Maybe that’s because the girls are smarter! I’ve been in landscaping for 31 years and by body is just in bits – and I’m not even 50 yet. I’ll stay on the tools though. I can’t settle into an office job, I’d hate that.

In those 31 years, I’ve seen attitudes change. People are a lot happier to give females the same work as guys, instead of letting the men dig the holes and the ladies plant – as might have happened in the older days! Now you’d expect them to muscle in and they’d want to muscle in as well!

Girls on Grass

Interviewee: Emma Kunac - Founder Location: Whakatane

Staff: 18

Have I seen an increase in females working in the industry.Apart from us; not really. Although, Girls on Grass is an 18-strong maintenance crew now, so there has been an increase in that respect. Five years ago, we only had seven staff and not all of those were female, but now they all are.

One thing that has changed is that I’m finding it easier to recruit women who want to work with us. I think women are realising that all those old stereotypes don’t apply to everyone – they’re now doing what they want to do, instead of what they think they should do. They see what we’re doing, and they want to be a part of it.

We’re always recruiting and its good to see a wide age range of women interested in working for us. We’ll have anyone from 17 to 47 asking about a career in landscaping, although it’s not for everyone – the work is really physical and we do get some people dropping off after three months.

As an all-female business by design, recruiting is a bit harder for us due to the lower number of women in landscaping generally, so the recent relaxation around work visas was a big relief for us. We’ve been able to retain three female staff, who would have had to leave the country under pre-Covid rules!


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