Lock on ... the need for collaboration between designers and landscapers

I read with interest the interview with Robin Templar Williams (HW, 5 March), mainly because the headline - "Collaborating for success" - has a number of connotations.

There is a great need for the industry to work more closely together, from growers through to designers, landscapers and, yes, I would bring the retailers into this.

While garden centres and retail nurseries are servicing the DIY gardening market, I am sure there is more that can be done to promote and educate the public on when the time is right to use a professional designer or landscaper. It can only enhance their service offering.

When I ran a design and build business, I used to think that the whole designer-contractor strained relationship argument was largely nonsense. But now I am running a design practice, there are issues that in many ways are unnecessary. Greater collaboration and trust are needed.

Designers and contractors need to know their limitations and defer to experts in other trades to ensure that the process is smooth. All too often, problems arise through the "we'll do that" mentality in an attempt to grow their involvement rather than sticking to what they are good at and what they can deliver.

Finally, there is the collaboration of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), Society of Garden Designers (SGD) and Association of Professional Landscapers (APL), of which I am chief executive. There is a definite requirement for the landscape and design industry to be regulated and it stands its best chance with these three organisations driving forward.

We are a small industry so perhaps we have a unique opportunity to make this happen. It needs the recognition of its professionalism and the respect of those employing us that we are a truly professional industry.

As a designer, I do not want to have to explain what the SGD means to my clients, as much as contractors do not wish to explain what the APL or BALI mean. If we all pull in the same direction then maybe in the not too distant future we can bring about the change we need.

Jason Lock is a director at DeakinLock Garden Design.

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