How is the downturn in house sales affecting landscape firms?

HW asked guests at Wyevale East's landscape design seminar how the downturn has affected the sector.

"It hasn't made any difference to my business. I work for people with high incomes and second homes as well as small gardens.

"The housing market is a problem for people who need to move. But those who are happy where they are would rather work on improving their home. That's what I have found with my clients. There will be some people who suffer. There are new builds near me which are already in process and they will still go ahead but I have seen the landscaping reduced by 10 to 15 per cent. I think the issue is being talked up by the media."

Barry Holdsworth, garden designer, Barry Holdsworth Ltd

- "We are getting fewer enquiries and landscapers are getting pushed on price.

"I've heard that people working on ground works are being laid off sites and some are turning to working on patios etc. This means landscaping firms are having to get very competitive on price. Gardens are seen as a luxury item. There is a key sector that spends up to £50,000 on gardens and those projects are not going ahead. Projects with budgets above that price are not affected.

"Over the past 12 years I have received many jobs through clients recommending the company, so I hope my sources will bring in work."

Roger Smith, garden designer, Greencube Landscapes

- "A meeting of the Midlands APL (Association of Professional Landcapers) group was held recently because we've detected a slowing down in demand for landscaping. It's particularly noticeable in the new-build sector.

"The top end of the housing market is not affected. The landscaping sector has not yet got to the stage of laying people off but companies may have to if the situation doesn't improve. The market varies across the UK. The Midlands has seen a slowdown but I don't think the South East has been affected as much.

"Six months down the line we will get a clearer idea of the situation."

David Gilchrist, horticultural consultant

- "There is definitely a reduction in the number of enquiries. Last year was particularly busy and this year we were waiting for the spring rush and it didn't arrive. It's the financial situation - people lose confidence and think twice about spending on projects. The scope of work has been reduced and budgets are smaller.

"But if people can't move house then they look at improving their quality of life, and it gives them more reason to do their garden. It makes the property saleable for the future.

"We shouldn't be all doom and gloom as there may be a resurgence in landscaping and design."

Mike Young, landscape architect, Origin Gardens.

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