What do you think the outlook is for landscaping in 2009?

HW polled guests at the BALI awards in London last week

"It is hard to say exactly what the outlook is going to be for 2009 but if I'm honest I'd say there is going to be more of a slowdown.

"It is still busy at the moment but without a doubt there has been a slowdown in enquiry rates. A certain sector of the market in smaller projects has fallen away. The larger private contracts are still there but they are going to be hard-earned. I don't know whether projects like the Olympics will help.

"In a recession, people will spend more on their gardens - but the early part of the year will be difficult. January to March will see a big slowdown." - Robin Templar Williams, managing director, Robin Williams & Associates

"The recession is going to be worse than people think and next year will be tough. I think the outlook is pretty bleak.

"Housing is obviously the worst hit - it's fallen off a cliff. Commercial will be hit but not as hard, and grounds maintenance clients will be looking for savings, particularly in local authorities. I don't think the weaker companies will survive. I think it will be a short, sharp shock and by 2010 or 2011 we'll see recovery because there are major capital schemes that will boost the economy - roads, Crossrail, the Thames Gateway and the Olympics." - Neil Huck, senior contracts manager, Ground Control

"It is going to be tough for all sectors of the industry. But it is an opportunity for professional businesses to look at how they do business. It is about sharpening up and looking at systems of working and labour.

"I think it will be short-term pain and long-term gain because it will get rid of a lot of the dross in our side of the industry. Contractors will have to be careful how much credit they give people and everyone will have to raise their game.

"For the past five years it has been too easy and, in this sharper market, to look at all your costs is a good thing." - Mark Gregory, director, Landform Consultants

"I think that, paradoxically, once people understand they are in a recession they are more likely to treat their house as a home and invest in enjoyment of that.

"That includes investing in their gardens rather than trying to sell their house.

"It can be hard as an individual garden designer to gauge how the industry is going to look next year but I have already had enquiries from landscapers looking for work to build my designs.

"They are obviously feeling the pinch in other areas - there is a seasonal aspect to that but it's clear they are nervous." - Peter Thomas, chairman, Society of Garden Designers.


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