New chair of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) Mark Gregory said: "One of the biggest issues in our sector is a complete lack of plant knowledge.
"There are technical skills in abundance, but basic horticultural skills are in decline." He called for better career paths and gardening at secondary school level.
Former chair Adam Frost said issues such as ethical sourcing, sustainability and specialist sub-contractors are more prevalent for landscapers. "Landscaping has had a tough year but the future is looking bright," he added. "We need to ensure we are working right across the industry to capitalise on the opportunities."
Gregory said it was increasingly clear that traditional divisions between commercial, domestic and maintenance work were being blurred and the service package must recognise this.
The APL, which was set up for domestic landscapers, now includes major commercial contractors working on domestic gardens.
"Lines are becoming blurred," said Gregory. "I will look critically at what our members need in tough trading conditions. There are members holding on tight, helped by services from the HTA."
Gregory, managing director of Landform Consultants, was made chairman at last week's AGM. He said the APL was moving into a new phase of development.
Gregory is building Jim Fogarty's Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Nigel Dunnett/Matthew Wilson's RBC Rain Garden show exhibits for Chelsea 2011.