Garden designer warns over sustainability knowledge gap

Working in isolation leads to lack of understanding of sustainability, Janine Pattison tells seminar.

Landscape contractors, designers and maintenance crews lack basic understanding of sustainability because they tend to work in isolation, an expert said last week.

Garden designer Janine Pattison said lack of communication between professionals at every stage of the design process often results in fundamental design and build flaws.

She told a sustainable landscaping seminar in Essex that common mistakes include designing paths too narrow for mowers or taking no account of access for waste removal or compost.

"We need to promote the idea that the designer consults with the contractor at the earliest stage," said Pattison. "You need a cross fertilisation of ideas instead of people operating in a structurally linear fashion where the designer works with no input from the contractor."

The "science of sustainability" is still young and has only gathered momentum over the past five years, she added. More research and information is needed and will emerge in "small steps rather than one giant leap".

Sudscape sales manager Wayne Langford said part of the blame lay with Government for failing to send out clear messages or come up with national standards.

Association of Professional Landscapers chairman Mark Gregory said: "There are two types of designers and landscapers - those that plod on and never change, and those who read the journals and go to forums, conferences and exhibitions like Ecobuild.

"Government is forcing massive pressures on professionals in terms of landfill tax, the environment and sustainability. This is good - it makes our sector more relevant and more important in the planning process.

"By our very nature we are tuned in to the environment, land and the weather, and it's never been easier to learn and gather information."

Industry comment

"We all have to think more carefully about closer integration of different elements of the landscape. Designers have to think about what happens with installation and maintenance, including how it can be recycled at the end of its lifespan."

Angela Lambert, sales and marketing co-ordinator, Q Lawns

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