Rising house prices and government incentives drive on landscape renewal

Good weather, increased job security and the sellers' housing market has meant the public is again feeling confident.

Boom time: landscape construction is enjoying a fillip in business - image: HW
Boom time: landscape construction is enjoying a fillip in business - image: HW

Business is booming in landscape construction, with companies taking on more staff and boasting growth of up to a third.

The improving housing market and increasing job security are prompting customers across the board to spend on landscape.

Gingko, the 80-strong staff landscape contracting business serving the South East, has seen business jump 30 per cent on a year ago. Director Dan Curran credited a recent "purple zone" surge of business on people spending more thanks to job security, rising house prices and stronger stocks and shares.

"A year ago there were too many contractors and not enough work, now it's the other way around. The domestic market has come back to life."

Gingko recently won a big refurbishment and relandscaping job for Guinness Trust at Snowfields in London, meanwhile private clients were spending big on domestic landscapes in areas such as Swiss Cottage, Hampstead and Kingston. Typical projects came in at the £35,000 mark.

Loreston-based Barton Grange Landscapes has seen a 25 per cent increase in work for every category of landscape construction job up to the £750,000 plus range.

He said: "We are doing very big domestic projects and work for companies such as United Utilities. But we are also scoring well on soft landscaping and turfing jobs at local authorities such as Trafford and Lancaster. It's quite a surprise to see the public sector so buoyant, given the budget cuts."

Good news in landscape follows promising figures last week that total construction output in Great Britain will increase by 30 per cent between 2013 and 2018.

The quarterly Construction and Housing Forecast Bulletin from AMA Research predicted construction output would rise by around 6 per cent in 2014 to around £129 billion underpinned by the residential sector.

Residential new work output is forecast to increase by 36% between 2013 and 2015, stimulated by the recent extension of buying assistance schemes.

Landscape contractors echoed the good vibes. Hambrooks, which covers design and building across the south west, was also enjoying good business, said managing director Norman Hambrook: "The improving economy no doubt helps but perhaps it's the good weather as much as anything that's prompting a feel-good factor," he said.

Greenmantle, the 50-staff contractor in London, has seen a jump in domestic landscape and long-term large commercial projects. Director John Plummer knows professionals in Yorkshire and elsewhere up north enjoying a "cascade" effect.

"Our market for domestic renovation work fell off a cliff in 2008.

"But work has risen threeor fourfold. Longer-term commercial work didn't suffer as much and now we've got it in spades."

BALI technical director, Neil Huck

"The market is picking up rapidly driven in part by rising house prices but also through government incentives in areas such as roads and railways. Landscape construction is driving the growth in the contracting sector and I would say business is 20 per cent up on last year. But prices are still quite low due to competition and the recession has prompted a change in market profile. This could hit as many contractors as it helps. I know of a water-plant specialist that diversified into reed-bed management for sewage treatment while a domestic contractor branched into new housing. The general election could have a big effect: confidence is growing but it's still not great and it won't take much to tip the balance the wrong way."

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