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RML is greener than ever

Registered Master Landscapers is encouraging its members to consider the environmental implications of their work, and to operate in a sustainable way whenever possible

Businesses all around the world are being asked to consider the environmental impact of their work, and landscapers are no different.

In line with its commitment to the education and advancement of professional standards within the industry, Registered Master Landscapers’ (RML) is supporting members’ efforts to minimise the impact of their operations on the environment.

Its environmental policy asks landscapers to:

  • Take all practical steps to reduce and eliminate harmful waste, discharges and the use of hazardous materials.

  • Maintain full compliance with legislation and standards in relation to the environment and, whenever possible, exceed those standards.

  • Promote the use of environmental-friendly products and work practices.

  • These ethical standards are backed by a new ‘Environmental’ category at the 2022 Landscapes of Distinction awards (LOD), which evaluates sustainability in materials and management practices.

“The revisions to the award category have been made due to a strong trend in the market for sustainable landscapes and garden practices,” says Head Judge Penny Clifton.

“The LOD awards seek to recognise excellence within the landscape industry,” she continues. “The judges look for the highest standard of landscape projects, whether they focus on construction, design, planting, maintenance or, in this case, sustainable approach.”

Sustainability in practise

When interviewed by NZ Landscaper, most professionals say that they already have sustainability issues in mind while

on the job.

“The landscape industry has a crucial role to play in the creation of more liveable cities, in rehabilitating landscapes and helping to mitigate climate change,” says Chris Ballantyne from Second Nature Gardens.

“Landscape companies need to ‘walk the talk’ around sustainability and our industry’s green credentials. This presents us with some serious challenges as we cannot create gardens without consuming materials, generating emissions, and producing waste.

“To mitigate, and off-set these environmental negatives, the gardens we create need to endure, support bio-diversity and use materials that are ethically sourced.

“Increasingly, Second Nature seeks to better recycle our waste streams, electrify our vehicles and tools and supports local and national environmental initiatives.”

Bill Holden from Bill Holden Design and Landscape says he tries to limit his carbon footprint as much as possible.

“I like to use local products for local jobs instead of importing product or material. That reduces our carbon footprint, because the transportation of product to a job can result in a very high footprint.

“For example, I don’t like people using schist in Auckland that comes from the South Island. There’s perfectly good product around Auckland that you don’t need to import.

“Additionally, using local product fits with my philosophy that a job should display and demonstrate a sense of place, it should reflect its natural environment and the character of the district. I’ve walked away from jobs when clients have insisted they use product from far away.”

Landscapers can also make a positive contribution to the environment through the work they do, as David Clayton-Greene from CGC Landscapes explains.

“We’ve planted some pretty significant wetlands, which help to filter out contaminates from stormwater. On one industrial sub-division we put in 35,000 plants!”

“Additionally, we run battery operated equipment and make a point to regularly replace vehicles and machinery, so we don’t run old machinery that pollutes at high levels. Further to that, we recycle and use organic compounds when appropriate.”

Not always easy

However, embracing a more sustainable business model isn’t without its challenges. John Muller, director of Wellington-based Wellington Gardens Limited, says that when everyone is under the pump, striving to be sustainable is difficult.

“Clients used to ask about our sustainable practices, but now they tend to just want the job to get done. To be honest, landscapers are so stressed with the current work environment that they’re just trying to finish one job and move on to the next.

“Additionally, the supply crisis means you can’t afford to be picky about materials. If something becomes available, you’ve got to take it, even if it’s not the most environmentally friendly decision.”

CGC Landscapes often work as subcontractors, and David says that can make it particularly difficult to conduct his business to the highest environmental standards.

“As a contracting company, we’re down the food chain, as we price tenders put together by firms and they prepare cost estimates. When you’re pricing a tender and the materials have already been specified, it’s hard to make choices that put sustainability first.

“Until contracts are weighted so sustainability is an integral part of the price, you’re at a disadvantage, as firms will undercut you by using cheaper materials.”

Practical tips

While Chris from Second Nature Gardens appreciates getting clients across the line on sustainability isn’t always easy, he says landscapers can have an influence in the way they present ideas.

“When we design responses and solutions to problems, clients are a lot more receptive to the sustainability and environmental credentials to that solution, even if it costs a little more.”

Even small operations can do little things to make their work more sustainable, according to JRM Landscapes owner Ross Marriott, who says landscaping is about growth and nature, so needs to be protected.

“We do try and save waste where we can, and that includes doing things like stockpiling our used plant pots and selling them on via TradeMe so they don’t go to landfill, and carpooling as much as possible.”

And despite lamenting the challenges in working sustainably, John Muller says he still does what he can, including using hardwood rather than treated timber and sourcing timber from sustainable forests.

Small wins

Overall, landscapers around the country are trying to mitigate the environmental impact of their work by adapting practices such as using battery-powered tools where possible, recycling plastics such as plant pots or using biodegradable products in their work.

If you’re one of those, there might even be an award in it for you.

Registered Master Landscapers is committed to supporting landscape professionals and young future leaders.

For more information contact CEO Janine Scott on or phone 0275 444 090


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