Clients must be persuaded to ring-fence budgets for hard and soft landscaping

Persuading a client to ring-fence part of a project budget to allow for hard or soft landscaping is key in ensuring that value engineering does not damage the integrity of a scheme.

Association of Professional Landscapers head Jason Lock. Image: APL
Association of Professional Landscapers head Jason Lock. Image: APL

This was the view of experts debating the benefits and challenges of planting in landscaping schemes during the first Hard Landscaping Show at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry last week.

Planting makes all the difference in domestic and commercial landscaping schemes but there are funding issues, agreed panel members at the HW-led debate.

Speakers included Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) chief executive Jason Lock, British Association of Landscape Industries chairman elect Paul Cowell, Scotscape managing director Angus Cunningham and Wyevale Nurseries sales and marketing director Doug Reade.

"If the budget overruns on hard landscaping, it will often be pinched back on the planting," explained Lock. "It is a false economy driven by budgets, but I don't know how we square that round hole."

Cowell added that it was "quite common" for clients to decide to carry out planting themselves over a period of time after hard landscaping work was complete.

"The past couple of years it has been 'cheapest wins'," agreed Cunningham. "You end up with smaller, sub-standard plants."

Audience member Michael Heap, managing director of stone firm CED, said the same issues affected the hard landscaping market.

"As a supplier of hard landscaping materials, we find exactly the same issue with architects," he explained. "They build a building but don't have the money for the outside. It is a problem of ring-fencing and wherever possible we need to try to persuade a client to ring-fence a budget."

Reade said Wyevale had been successful in persuading a client to ring-fence planting budgets. "It can be made to happen, provided the supply chain works together."

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