Discussion leads to promise of costings benchmark for landscape industry
A recent workshop in Kent attended by 300 delegates delivered a promise to create the first-ever ‘benchmark’ or formula to calculate the cost of maintenance for designs and schemes.
Host Nick Coslett, marketing manager of Palmstead Nurseries, says his company wants the industry’s help in filling out maintenance workload/costings for existing designs, which could then be shared and used as benchmarks. ‘I think we have identified a strong demand across the industry to give higher value to the longer term care of plants and provision of benchmarking,’ he says, ‘which will help give designers tools to engage in the discussion with clients, thereby protecting their capital investment.’
After he surveyed 100 landscape professionals in May this year, Coslett adds, he found that 80% ‘were keen to have a formula or better guidance on how to cost maintenance’.
Landscape architect Richard Sneesby’ told delegates that in the yachting world it was ‘culturally known and accepted’ that maintenance costs are around 10% of purchase cost: ‘It would help me enormously to have a similar formula so that I could share this knowledge with my client,’ he added.
Sneesby argued that if this knowledge were available at the point of sitting down to design a garden with a client, then it could avoid the creation of disappointing landscapes: ‘Why are all the photographs we see of garden designs and schemes taken in the first three or four years of a garden’s life? – Because after this point they tend to disappoint because there has been a lack in revenue funding.’
Disappointing landscapes, Sneesby asserts, ‘are principally to do with a lack of revenue funding for maintenance’.
Palmstead hopes to take the debate forward with the help of the industry, and with the creation of a reference directory for costing the maintenance of a design/scheme, which it will launch at the SGD Awards in January.