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April 2017


VOL. 39, NO. 3


Selling the value of professional landscape design

Adaptable independents own the future

eco-app ro Special issue:



6 PM40013519


Why, and how, to benchmark

eg co reen

Eco-landscaping: Contractor opportunity


Residential demo pares water use


Electric power meets real life


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Contents EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Lee Ann Knudsen CLM |

APRIL 2017 VOL. 39, NO. 3


Special issue:





Landscape Trades is published by Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association 7856 Fifth Line South, Milton, ON L9T 2X8 Phone: (905)875-1805 Email: Fax: (905)875-0183 Web site:

Landscape Trades is published nine times a year: January, March, April, May, June, August, September, October and November. Subscription rates: One year – $46.90, two years – $84.74; three years – $118.64, HST included. U.S. and international please add $20.00 per year for postage and handling. Subscribe at Copyright 2017. All rights are reserved. Material may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher. Landscape Trades assumes no responsibility for, and does not endorse the contents of, any advertisements herein. All representations or warranties made are those of the advertiser and not the publication. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the association or its members, but are those of the writer concerned.


6 Eco-landscaping for contractors



Eight ways to carve a green niche, improving both profits and profile.


gerceoe-n APPROV


14 Residential makeovers: Hold the water

A demonstration project convinces homeowners water-conserving landscapes can be just as lovely.


Landscape pros aspire to make clean-power alternatives work.


eco-app ro 24 Open minds on electric equipment


LANDSCAPE ONTARIO STAFF Darryl Bond, Amy Buchanan, Rachel Cerelli, Tony DiGiovanni CHT, Denis Flanagan CLD, J. Alex Gibson, Meghan Greaves, Heather MacRae, Kristen McIntyre CHT CEM, Kathy McLean, Linda Nodello, Kathleen Pugliese, Ian Service, Tom Somerville, Myscha Stafford, Martha Walsh, Alexandra Wennberg, Cassandra Wiesner




ADVISORY COMMITTEE Gerald Boot CLM, Laura Catalano, Mark Fisher, Hank Gelderman CHT, Marty Lamers, Bob Tubby CLM, Nick Winkelmolen, Dave Wright




Canada’s green profession is on board with environmentally friendly products and policies — and not just because EEN ST they make business sense. A



30 Road to success

Independents willing to adapt can expect bright futures.


34 Management solutions

The basics on benchmarks: A powerful tool for landscapers.


36 Legal matters

Yet another lesson on writing contracts for strict interpretation.


38 Landscape design

The challenge of presenting, and charging, as a professional.


50 Mentor moment

Christene Stenhouse LeVatte views responsible practices as huge opportunities.



COVER: Rendering of a water-smart residential landscape by Kent Ford; more on page 14.



greenpencil Other sectors cast envious eyes, while Canada’s trade is

Green with gratitude re consumers convinced their new home entertainment system is good for nature, just because a green cartoon frog said so? A trivial plastic item, built and marketed to go obsolete in an eye-blink, comes in recycled packaging. Is anybody impressed? Gourmet produce is “sustainably farmed.” Enough to cancel out the effect of transport halfway around the globe? Marketers in every sector are contorting to make green By Lee Ann Knudsen claims. They are trying really hard to connect their products with environmental good will. And they seem to be digging ever-deeper credibility holes. For horticulture professionals, it’s an entirely different story. Your products, plants and landscapes actually are, in fact, green. Voila! No question, other enterprises can look very attractive — they offer steady, indoor work for starters. But you actually do sell plants, turf and landscapes that produce cooling oxygen, that provide shade and magnify nature’s beauty. Every horticulture professional I know holds a heartfelt respect for nature. Beyond the big picture, you understand real green is about the details as well. For example, convincing homeowners to landscape with water conservation in mind. Or making the substantial investment in time, training and cash to see if no-emission equipment can compete in the marketplace. Or devising a system to keep


Snapped in Shanghai: “Please cherish grass. It accompanies life.” Respect for green crosses countries and cultures.

stock watered at the shop, without any hydro — just to name a few challenges mentioned in this Green Issue’s articles. My sense is that Canada’s trade really does regard the green advantage with gratitude, for sure. In fact, the attitude is more than grateful; it is spiritual. The mission is to sell honest work promoting living gardens, with both pride and humility. Green can mean something real, after all. LT



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ecroe-en g PPROVED A



he demographic of folks interested in eco-friendly landscaping is broadening, in both age and numbers. Some may not find environmental issues all that important or engaging. Maybe it’s just tiresome after all this time. Still, is it really worth ignoring a whole segment of potential customers? There’s work to be had by specializing in this direction. Incorporating a few elements is good and increases your bottom line. What are the best initiatives to focus on? Which solutions will ‘fix’ the world? Which are more profitable? Remember, at the very least, you’re probably already a bit eco-friendly. After all, you sell or plant trees and trees sequester carbon, reduce the urban heat island effect and soak up rain water. Some readers may have tuned in about the debate surrounding garbage. It usually rages around techniques to prevent waste from going into landfills. Debaters often miss the fact it’s not about one best solution, but rather all the solutions. It’s the same with environmentally-friendly landscaping. You may not be able to do everything on every property, but doing a little bit of as many techniques as you can makes a landscape impact the planet in a positive way — and makes customers feel much better about their investment. So, what exactly ARE some of the techniques available to us?

EDIBLE LANDSCAPING This is the fastest-growing trend in gardening. Our industry bemoans declining prospects, but isn’t too enthusiastic about staying up with new trends. Many customers are being drawn to gardening by the idea of growing their own food, knowing that it’ll be pesticide-free and may even be more nutritious through good soil stewardship. Whether it’s a table at your nursery featuring a few easyto-grow veggie options, or a few edibles dotted through a garden, the public, especially Millennials, are ready. Many veggies such as Swiss chard, cabbage and their relatives and even squash and beans are quite beautiful, and can strengthen designs. They also get customers

Edible landscapes are growing in popularity.

out working in their gardens, engaging in their landscapes and loving it a little more every day. This helps combat the growing trend of plant blindness and helps them appreciate the art that landscapers produce. From the professional’s perspective, it also allows us to stretch our legs artistically, building our knowledge base and adding more plants to our palette.

BEES AND BUTTERFLIES Another expanding trend in horticulture is the duo of pollinatorfriendly landscaping and landscaping for monarchs, which couples nicely with native and ‘nativar’ plantings and biodiversity gardening. After all, it IS the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity for a reason! ‘Nativars’ are cultivars of native plants, such as Little Devil ninebark and Hello Yellow butterfly milkweed (it’s just fun to SAY!). If you really want a sale and the customers’ daughter is within earshot, ask the parents about a butterfly garden. They may or may not be interested, but if the daughter hears, she won’t let you leave without making her parents buy her a butterfly garden. She’s now your best sales person! Bees and monarchs are all over the news and social media. Schools are installing butterfly gardens, educating students and parents at the same time and increasing awareness. There’s nothing wrong with educating yourself and jumping on that bandwagon. More respect in the community, and being able to sleep at night knowing that you’ve done a Good Thing, make the improved bottom line even more appealing. Remember to reach out to local media if you’re doing a project such as a school butterfly garden. It’s free advertising and it increases awareness about an important issue.

CLEANING STRATEGY Related to pollinator support is the idea of how we should clean up gardens. Cleaning up every scrap in the fall and removing it from the site is standard. Leaving the garden standing, (apart from diseased material such as plants affected by powdery mildew), gives a home to

Landscaping for monarchs and pollinators is expanding. APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |


Plants allowed to remain standing over winter provide shelter and food.

valuable predator insects and draws birds into the garden to eat seeds and pests. It allows the plants to shelter themselves through winter; the stems of each plant act like little snow fences, collecting drifts of insulating snow. It also adds structural interest during the bleak season. Mulch leaves into the lawn in the fall and put the excess on the gardens. By spring, Mother Nature’s minions will have worked it all into the soil, improving soil structure and nutrition, and supporting the valuable life cycle under the surface. When cleaning up the garden in spring, cut perennials down to only 15 cm (6 inches), to leave hollow stems for bee habitat. Use a mower to mulch clippings on-site and reapply them as organic matter over the garden. Where possible, make a pile of woody clippings, out of sight behind some shrubs. It provides valuable shelter and habitat as it breaks down. This may take a bit of customer education, since they’re used to the old-fashioned way, but most will see the value of the new (actually, very old) methods.

AVOID OFF-SITE DISPOSAL Moving materials on and off properties can affect a carbon footprint in a big way. It’s also getting incredibly expensive and problematic to dispose of soil, rocks and cast concrete material, as well as organic matter. Using soil that is on-site when creating gardens keeps job costs down, without taking away from your profit margin. There are new products on the market such as Envirolok bags, which allow retaining walls to be made and vegetated without blasting material out of the ground and shipping it around the country.

DON’T TAKE WATER FOR GRANTED Many responsible landscapers are already thinking about xeriscaping (drought-tolerant landscaping) when choosing plants for a design. Water is getting expensive; saving the customer cash in the long run makes you look good. Natives are very useful in this regard, being well-adapted to local conditions. Rainscaping and all of its components help reduce flooding, which has overtaken fire as Canada’s most common insurance claim. It also protects our waterways and allows the use of some really cool plants including sedges, winterberry, swamp milkweed and water irises. Permeable paving allows water to flow through, soaking into the ground. It costs a bit more, but it helps take stress off aging infrastructure and adds to property values. Those are good sales points, 8 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

Rain gardens, permeable paving and using drought-tolerant plants are options to offer homeowners.

along with the news from Century 21 that a good patio adds 12 per cent to the value of a home. Many communities are developing grant programs for this type of work and the municipal tax system is changing to promote LID (Low Impact Development), which helps reduce rainwater runoff.

TURF ALTERNATIVES Replacing turf with groundcovers and gardens helps with biodiversity and water infiltration. It’s also a value-added sale! As landscapes evolve and trees produce more shade, don’t fight to keep grass alive. Sell landscape upgrades instead!

GREEN ROOF NICHE If it’s in the toolbox of jobs you sell, green roofs are getting more popular, reducing the heat island effect, reducing flooding AND increasing biodiversity. If it’s not, sub-contract to a colleague and put a management fee on the total. Like permeable paving, if done right, it’s also a much better long-term investment for the customer.

GREEN YOUR BUSINESS OPERATIONS Finally, mindful consumption around your office and yard can make a series of little differences to your bottom line and your eco-impact. There are the obvious things, like buying in bulk to reduce waste. Choose products with less packaging. Switch to products made from recycled materials and seek more eco-friendly options such as strawbased Step Forward paper and waterless printing. If you’re willing to spend a tiny bit more for sustainable Bullfrog Natural Gas, biodiesel and LED lighting, you can justify the extra cost through the advertising potential. It’s surprising how creative one can get. At Fern Ridge Landscaping, our yard has no hydro or water, and it would be very expensive to install. Watering stock plants was a problem, and keeping the shop lit involved running a generator. To solve this problem, eaves troughs were installed on the barn roof and channeled into one-ton water totes. We built large, lined flood trays, the bottoms gradually sloping toward a sump pit in one corner. Water is emptied from the totes into the trays, to soak into the plants for a couple of hours, after which it’s pumped back into the totes. The pump is a low-voltage bilge model which runs off a battery. The battery is charged with a small solar panel. In months when day length is shorter, that same


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battery runs a low-voltage LED lighting system in the shop. Reduced water use, low cost and no carbon footprint make it an appealing system. Labour to keep plants watered has dropped significantly and plant losses have been almost eliminated. It just took a little creativity and collaboration on the part of the crew. Each of these concepts can help your business in little ways, adding up to a big change to your company’s overall appeal and financial success. Making changes to be more eco-friendly also gives excuses to promote your company through printed materials, email communications and especially social networking. Let people know what you’re doing. Always promote to show how responsible you are and

Green rooftops increase biodiversity and offer natural cooling options for your customers.

to educate your customers, crew and social network followers about the differences you make — and they can make. A significant percentage of the population prefers to deal with responsible companies, and posting about the changes you’re making — and why — is LT a good excuse to remind people you exist.

Sean James is owner of Fern Ridge Landscaping, an Ontario-based design/build/maintenance company, as well as an eco-consultant and a popular speaker.

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Beautiful landscapes

or water conservation?

ecroe-en g PPROVED

The recently passed-away owner of this home at 1189 April Dr., in Mississauga, Ont., was a great champion of the project: “Our new garden has made us the talk of the neighborhood. I enjoy explaining to our neighbors that in addition to looking good, the garden is also good for the environment. I’m pleased when I’m out in the garden and see people’s appreciative looks.”


A demonstration project in Mississauga, Ont., convinces homeowners they can have both. BY KENT FORD


n 2009, Tracy Patterson of Freeman Associates undertook a market research and analysis study that surveyed 200 homeowners across the Greater Toronto Area to find out what their home landscape meant to them. Beauty, peace and pride achieved through watering, lawn cutting and other maintenance lay at the heart of the responses. According to Gino Piscelli, The Region of Peel then utilized this research to commence a community project that would convince the public that reducing home irrigation during peak-use periods in the summer could alleviate the stress of increasing demands on municipal infrastructure.


FUSION LANDSCAPING Piscelli says, “Fusion Landscaping was developed to help address residential outdoor water use. Fusion Landscaping is an exciting trend that brings together the splendor of traditional gardens with modern, ecofriendly plants and flowers.” Region staff then sought out a landscape design firm to undertake a visioning session with the public, assist in the selection of five residential sites in Clarkson and design Fusion Landscapes for the five sites. My design firm Kent Ford Design Group (KFDG) was thrilled to be selected and conducted an initial public workshop in the fall of 2009. At the workshop, large photo boards and informational tables were set up to invite discussion between homeowners and Region of Peel and KFDG staff. The outcome was a short list of potential residential sites, ultimately narrowed down to five chosen for diversity of setting and ease of viewing by the public. The sites, all in the Clarkson neighbourhood of Mississauga,



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Fusion garden on Davebrook Rd., Mississauga, Ont., makes use of Lamium as a tough perennial groundcover that looks showy with its silver leaves and soft pink flowers that bloom from spring until fall.

duced and were presented individually at KFDG’s office. Detailed input was gathered from the five homeowners over hot chocolate and a relaxed atmosphere. For the most part the designs were very well received and the owners embraced the underlying Fusion principles. I do recall two of the five owners pushing back a bit, with desires that were contrary to the Fusion program. One owner was determined to retain his existing irrigation system while another insisted on including a very long list of landscape plants, some of which unfortunately were water loving, such as hydrangeas and rhododendrons. In the end, these glitches worked themselves out. The first central design parameter for all five of the Clarkson sites was to remove all existing lawn in the front yards. Two of the five sites were corner lots which involved removing front and side lawns. continued on page 20

Rendering for Welwyn Drive fusion garden.

Ont., included 1066 Welwyn Dr., 1189 April Dr., 1818 Barsuda Dr., 1824 Delaney Dr. and 1930 Davebrook Rd. KFDG staff then conducted input meetings with the five homeowners, the same way we would with any residential client. We acquired as much input as possible while reminding owners of the basic parameters of the Fusion Landscaping program. It was important to us to make the gardens both functional and beautiful. Much thought went into the inclusion of central access pathways and seating areas. By January 2010, five conceptual plans and 3D renderings had been pro-

Textured perennials provide a much more interesting welcome carpet than turf at 1066 Welwyn Dr., Mississauga, Ont.


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The homeowner at 1824 Delaney Dr., in Mississauga, Ont., said, “We wanted to reduce the amount of grass in our front yard and beautify our space. Our new garden incorporates hard and soft features, looks rich and textured and makes our home so attractive.”

The overhead rendering gives a better glimpse of the detail that went into each of the fusion landscape designs.

The second parameter was to engage the use of woody plants and perennials that were drought tolerant. There is a wide variance of drought-tolerance in what is also known as xeriscaping. In the creation of our plant lists, however, if a plant was chosen to adhere to a client’s particular request or for what we as designers considered superior aesthetics, then we chose those plant materials, even if they were slightly lower on the drought tolerance scale. We also followed two guiding planting design principles that I consider part of all our designs at KFDG: the use of instant low hedges such as boxwood and the placement of mature specimen trees or large shrubs, such as hardy rubber tree and European hornbeam. These, combined with smaller shrubs and perennials, create instant architecture on the blank slates of the front and side yards. 20 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

SITE DRAINAGE AND ESTABLISHMENT IRRIGATION Part of the effort to make the gardens water-wise was to collect and divert roof water via downspouts. None of the five homeowners were interested in conventional rain barrels, so we devised a layout of below-grade PVC pipes laid in a grid. There was also the need for irrigation during the three-month plant material establishment period. A DIY dripline system was purchased from Lee Valley Tools and installed. The system was timed so frequency and duration gradually scaled back once the establishment period was finished. The homeowners entered into five-year agreements with the Region of Peel, where they agreed to properly maintain the gardens. Most found them to be lower maintenance than the weekly chore of cutting, trimming and watering their former lawn. continued on page 22


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Plant list reflects conservation principles Woody, perennial and bulb selections for 1066 Welwyn Dr. TREES Amelanchier canadensis Serviceberry Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’ Pyramidal European hornbeam Acer ginnala Amur maple DECIDUOUS SHRUBS Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ Purple smoke tree Chaenomeles lagenaria ‘Rubra’ Red flowering quince Kolkwitzia amabilis Beauty bush Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’ Diablo ninebark Shepherdia argentea Silver buffalo berry Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow’ Rose Glow Japanese barberry EVERGREEN HEDGE SHRUBS Pinus mugo ‘Slowmound’ Slowmound mugo pine Euonymus fortuneii ‘Coloratus’ Purpleleaf wintercreeper Juniperus sabina Juniper GROUNDCOVERS Cotoneaster dammeri

Bearberry cotoneaster

TALL PERENNIALS FOR SUN Iris sibirica ‘Caesar’s Brother’ Hemerocallis ‘Strawberry Candy’ Hemerocallis ‘Final Touch’ Perovskia atriplicifolia Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’

Siberian iris Strawberry Candy daylily Final Touch daylily Russian sage Caradonna perennial sage

MEDIUM PERENNIALS FOR SUN Echinacea magnus Echinacea ‘Pink Double Delight’ Echinacea ‘Baby White Swan’

Magnus coneflower Pink Double Delight coneflower Baby White Swan coneflower

SUN PERENNIAL Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’ Lavender MEDIUM EVERGREEN PERENNIALS Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ Obsidian fancy leaf coral bells Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’ Lime Rickey fancy leaf coral bells LOW PERENNIAL FOR SHADE Epimedium x versicolor FALL-PLANTED BULBS Tulip ‘Dasystemon Tarda’ Tulip kaufmania ‘Waterlily’ Tulip ‘Peppermint Stick’ Narcissus ‘Rynveld Early Sensation’ Narcissus ‘Thalia’ Snow crocus ‘Gipsy Girl’ Snow crocus ‘Ruby Giant’ Allium giganteum Chionodoxa forbesii Eranthis cillcica Dwarf iris ‘Harmony’ Muscari botryoides alba Scilla peruviana


Bishop’s hat barrenwort

This fusion garden on Barsuda Drive in Mississauga, Ont. makes use of woody plants and perennials that are drought tolerant.

What were the actual water savings for the five residential Clarkson sites? According to Tracy Patterson of Freeman Associates, “In the final two years of the pilot study (2014 and 2015) the average water use per demonstration home per day was at or below 600 litres. This compares with two control areas which had an average water use per home per day of approximately 900 litres and 1,100 litres respectively. Ultimately, huge water savings were achieved proving that beautiful landscapes can be sustainable landscapes.” THE FUTURE OF FUSION Where can this pilot project go from here? According to Gino Piscelli at The Region of Peel, there are key points that will be addressed in the new Fusion Training Program being developed in partnership with Landscape Ontario and York Region: l It will create market transformation, training industry to provide water efficient Fusion designs. l Fusion speaks to an audience that retains contractors for landscaping and design. l It addresses the industry gap of trained contractors that can integrate water efficiency and storm water management LT into landscape designs.

Kent Ford is principal of Toronto, Ont.-based Kent Ford Design Group.




Cleaner, leaner, EC





e grcoee-n



contradiction in the horticultural trades. Green -apa longstanding ecohere’s professionals proare driven by their passion for plants, the environment and a belief invthe importance of healthy, active lifestyles connected with nature. However, their work often depends on fossil fuel-burning,



Can electric equipment provide the right power at the right cost? Horticulture pros are working to find a balance.

greenhouse gas-emitting equipment and machinery. The paradox is not unique to the horticultural trades. Look to any international climate change conference, for instance, where thousands of diplomats and bureaucrats burn countless gallons of jet fuel travelling to the world’s great cities for photo ops, gala dinners and to outline ersatz environmental strategies. But while politicians and policy makers have alternatives they could use to curtail their hypocrisy — it’s 2017, why not discuss climate change from afar over Skype? — work in the green profession often demands the power of the combustion engine. There are signs, however, that gas and diesel equipment use in the green professions may soon go the way of the dodo bird. While equipment and vehicle manufacturers still face major challenges when it comes to electric landscaping equipment, especially with heavy machinery and trucks, recent advances make it possible to imagine a time when the green profession will be truly green.

TRIAL AND ERROR Terry Childs, president of Nature’s Way Landscaping in Gananoque Ont., is a knowledgeable and keen advocate for sustainability and the environment. In fact, in 2010 Childs installed a microFIT solar power production system at his operations yard. The panels have produced 9,918 KWH over that period, which is sold to Ontario Hydro. Childs also decided to go electric on 24 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

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the maintenance end of his business in 2014. “Reducing our carbon footprint as a company really fits with who we are and what we do,” Childs says. “We also wanted to connect our brand with sustainability and lower emissions, because those are things that we truly believe in.” Unfortunately, problems quickly surfaced with the battery powered mowers, trimmers and blowers. “The first year, everything went well,” he says. “Pricewise, we started off at the same levels, but as time went on, work was done at a slower pace, and we couldn’t maintain the same prices.” By the second season, significant battery life issues caused Childs to Terry Childs transition back to traditional, greenhouse gas-emitting equipment. “They just wouldn’t hold the charge as long, and that slowed everything down,” he explained. “Cold weather would take a big punch out of the batteries; there was too much unpredictability.” While the upfront cost of equipment and batteries is more expensive than traditional equipment, the lower maintenance and fuel costs of electric equipment bridges the gap over time, Childs says. But it only makes sense if the battery life is long and stable. “If, for example, we knew that the batteries would only last one season, we could factor that in to the price and it might work,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were told the batteries would last two to three years, and they didn’t. Or, it would be helpful obviously to know how many charges it takes before the power diminishes, because when you charge things, often, over time, the charge won’t be as strong. We just need reasonable predictability so that we can break it down to a per-hour cost.” Leading into the 2017 season, Childs is once again looking at purchasing electric equipment for his maintenance team, hopeful that upgraded technology in newer product lines has pushed battery power past the tipping point to where it is now cost-effective.

He added, “We have also found the usage time for the batteries varies. So while typically a battery might last for three or four hours, at other times, it won’t even last an hour. That’s an issue, because you only have so many spare batteries that are charged and ready to go each day.” However, the positives outweigh the negatives, he says. “There are challenges, for sure, but from an environmental perspective, and for the health of the crews doing the work, we feel strongly that this is the right direction to go.” Guicciardi also notes that some U.S. states offer financial incentives for landscaping companies to go green, something he’d obviously love to see at the provincial or federal level in Canada. It’s been a learning curve, but, having embarked in an electric partnership with a major property management firm, Guicciardi and International Landscaping are committed to exploring options to make it work. Indeed, prior to purchasing the electric equipment, Guicciardi did extensive research into the greenhouse gas emission-free products offered by a variety of suppliers. He’s optimistic that professional grade electric equipment will continue to improve each year, eventually making it possible for International Landscaping to go fully electric. With the Meadowvale North Business Park electric project, International Landscaping and Guicciardi have shown how a creative business partnership — in this case, with property management firm Bentall Kennedy — can lead to innovation. By teaming up with a high-end, environmentally conscious client, IL was able to launch the pilot project and outfit a crew. Going forward, they will have

CANADA’S LARGEST ALL-ELECTRIC LANDSCAPING PROJECT Michael Gucciardi, environmental sustainability manager for Mississauga, Ont.-based International Landscaping, has an academic background in environmental studies and 10 years of experience working in the maintenance and construction divisions of his family’s award-winning business. In June 2016, he spearheaded the launch of the company’s allelectric maintenance crew — complete with zero-turn mowers, push mowers, trimmers, blowers and an enclosed trailer customized with charging docks and a portable solar panel system to generate power on site. The crew spent a season servicing Mississauga’s 170acre Meadowvale North Business Park. With one season in the books, Guicciardi is pleased with the equipment’s performance. But there have been several issues. “We have found the mowers and trimmers to be very effective and capable of meeting the needs of our crew,” he says. “The only area that has been a bit of an issue is with the blowers. The ones that we started with haven’t had the power we need, especially in windy conditions.” 26 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

Maintenance team members at International Landscaping are on-board with their eco-direction.

gained valuable knowledge about how to make a fully electric maintenance team work. And Guicciardi is relishing the opportunity.

ELECTRIC CAR PERFECT FOR DESIGNER Over the last two years, Sundaura Alford-Purvis has utilized a fullyelectric car for her landscape design practice. Based in Ottawa, Ont., Alford-Purvis meets with clients and travels to job sites daily during the busy seasons and says she spends up to 80 per cent less on fuel costs — charging her Nissan Leaf hatchback at home or at local e-stations — than she did with a traditional vehicle. While the sticker price for an electric vehicle is significantly higher

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than gas vehicles in the same class, government subsidies, fuel savings and lower maintenance costs quickly balance things out. Alford-Purvis received some $10,000 from the Ontario government. “For landscape designers, consultants, sales staff, or say a foreperson who is supervising multiple sites, really anyone who needs a vehicle but doesn’t have to haul material or equipment, it already makes a lot of sense to go electric,” she says. It takes about three to four hours to fully charge her car, AlfordPurvis says, and when using hydro at her home during off-peak hours, between $1.50 to $2 of hydro will provide 140 km of travel. “It’s perfect for us,” she says. “Last summer we drove to Vermont and back for vacation and put about 1,000 km on the car. And with a combination of free charging stations and pay-to-charge stations, I spent $20 in total.”

And it’s not a tiny vehicle either. “I know for a fact that I can fit eight ft. long two-by-fours in it and close the trunk,” she says, with a laugh.

BATTERY TECH IS THE KEY Many, if not all, green professionals across the country are interested in utilizing electric equipment for the environmental benefits and the branding and marketing opportunities, but the economics have to make sense. While there have been significant improvements to electric and battery powered equipment, there is still a long way to go before we see heavy equipment without combustion engines. In the meantime, there are ways for industry leaders to incorporate burgeoning technologies that will hopefully pay off in terms of cusLT tomer satisfaction and personal well-being.

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Can we see the future? BY ROD McDONALD

If I was incredibly talented at predicting the future, I would not be writing this column. No, I would be at the horse races, picking the winner of every race, or perhaps living in Las Vegas. If I could predict the future, I would own the stock market. I would know when not to crack a one-liner with my wife in the room. I would never be in trouble again. She never fails to remind me, “You’re not that funny,” which always makes me laugh for some odd reason. This conversation comes as a result of others I had with two people from our trade, Keith Carpenter from Van Noort’s and Michel Touchette from Jeffries Nurseries. Both conversations discussed the shrinking number of independent garden centres. As owners retire, there is no second generation to take over operations, nor are there waiting buyers. Many operators who wish to retire sell their land and buildings for another purpose. Even in Regina, I have seen several independent operators go out of business. Some, because they were poor managers, and others, because they were getting older and wanted to wrap up their working careers. They sold their lands and auctioned what they could. What was left was often bull dozed to make way for housing or commercial developments. I am not a negative 30 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

person, either by choice or by personality. I have always been a glass-half-full type of fellow. While I record and report the diminishing numbers, and I do so with great sadness. I also see a recovery in the future. At this juncture, I am going to jump ship from garden centres to restaurants. There was a time when independent, family-run restaurants dominated the Canadian landscape. There were very few chains. Large dining rooms and coffee shops were limited, for the most part, to major hotels in bigger cities. Every small town had one or two familyowned cafés that served the surrounding district. Today, as I travel the back roads of

my own province, I am astounded by the lack of these cafés, often replaced by the Subway chain. The demise of independent cafés was so apparent 30 years ago, that a fellow who owned several bars and restaurants gave an interview to the local newspaper. He said: “How do you make a million dollars in the restaurant business? Start with two million.” He was a member of ‘the glass-is-half-empty’ club and I did not appreicate his negativity. I wanted to write to him, but I didn’t, “Just give up then. Tell everyone not to bother to keep going.” He was a terrible ambassador for his trade.

Something has been changing the last 20 years, and changing for the better. In spite of competition from large chain restaurants that populate every Canadian city, independent cafés have been emerging. Each month, there is an article about a new place serving a different menu. Most are chef-owned. Chefs, who want to make their mark on eating out and not spend a career flipping burgers or at Red Lobster. Chefs who have dreams and work hard to make them come true. So far, so good. I keep getting emails from friends asking if I have tried this place or that. My friends often rave over how good a dish was at a café or bistro. They write, “I have never liked cauliflower before I ate at their place.” An interesting review. Also interesting to note is that these new and emerging eateries charge a good dollar. They have little desire to give their labour away. In Regina, we have many Indian

restaurants serving buffets, offering a bit of butter chicken, saffron rice and naan bread. After a while, they blend together. One new operator did not wish to compete for the buffet crowd. Instead, he offered plate service, each dish freshly prepared, and he chose to use high-end ingredients. Let’s face it, when you are running a buffet, quantity is often ahead of quality. The new fellow started out as a holein-the-wall, calling his place The Caraway Grill. He was off the beaten path. I heard the continuum of compliments and had to try it for myself. ‘First-rate and filled with flavour’ was my review. Others had to give it a go and now, he has built an addition on the back of his place, doubling its size. A success story in the midst of competition. Many of his regulars would best be described as zealots or apostles; he succeeded as lower-priced competitors struggled.

everyone wants a black car. When I started out in this trade of ours in 1977, there were growers who offered plants by the dozen, in maché trays, growing in a mud-like substance. When wet, those trays were extremely heavy. Carrying two was a

struggle, especially for older people, and not everyone wanted 12 cucumber plants. One ‘old school’ grower had a chalk board at the front of his greenhouse indicating prices. Nowhere else in his quite large greenhouse were prices. If you wanted to know

Is there a point? Yes, and it is quite simple: There is hope for our industry. There are lessons to be learned from these up-and-coming chef-owners. They have succeeded by offering unique dishes, something different than the same old, same old. They offered wines and beers no one else was serving. Let Arby’s sell their version of a roast beef sandwich. Let Swiss Chalet flog their quarter chicken dinner special. Let Earl’s, Original Joe’s, The Chophouse and all of the others do what it is they do. They will always have a certain clientele — and let them. Just as we have Costco, Superstore, Home Depot, Rona and Lowes. Just because they sell product does not mean they are satisfying every customer’s wants, needs and desires. While the box stores and chains race to the bottom, with lower pricing emphasized far ahead of quality, we need not participate. Henry Ford used to offer his cars in any colour you wanted, provided you wanted black. Ford had to change and adapt, because they could not maintain market share with an outdated business model. And that has too often been the story of the green trades. Not all, but some, have refused to update and there have been consequences. Not APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |




roadtosuccess There will always be shoppers that need to see, touch and smell the product.

how much a basket was, you had to take it up to the cashier and ask. His sales dropped 70 per cent over a 20-year period. The last time I visited his greenhouse, all he had for customers were two elderly ladies who were propping each other up. A model that once had worked had run its course. There were growers and retailers in the ‘70s and ‘80s who refused to sell perennials. Most would not build displays. Some had no carry-out or delivery service. All are now gone — in spite of mumbling, “But that is how we have always done it.” I can’t make this stuff up. On the CBC National News the other night, there was a report about online merchants moving into brick-and-mortar stores. I know there are people who order as much as they can online; one of our sons is so inclined. At Christmas, a gift from him arrives

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from Amazon. But just as there will always be a certain percentage of dedicated online shoppers, there will always be a number of people who want to see, touch or smell a product before buying. That is our market.

In the future, those who will be doing well are those who are offering something different. Products that are either exclusive to their operation or are difficult to find. Those places that offer an excellent choice in variety and colour will also benefit. I was in one of the box stores this summer. They displayed a large number of pink impatiens; decent quality at a lower price than the independents. Here was the kicker; all they had for impatiens were the pink ones. If you wanted white, purple, red, lilac, or hot pink, you were out of luck. Again, the Henry Ford scenario applied. Available in any colour as long as you wanted pink. I predict that as with the cafés and bistros, there will arise a group of small independents, operated by their owners, who have a passion for the business. People who have

a strong desire to do things differently and are willing to take a chance on new products and plants. Consumers will describe these places as being ‘special, different, a boutique.’ I also predict that those places, new or old, who continue to emphasize service will have a high success rate in the marketplace. Information will be a strong selling point. There is an entire generation who have now grown up never having learned how to plant or to garden. Many in their 20s and 30s have never mowed a lawn, a once mandatory Saturday morning chore for a school boy. There is no reason for the independent, whether their operation is new or been around for 50 years, to compete with the box stores or to emulate their business model. That is a recipe for disaster. The box stores are very good at what they do. They move a lot of product at a low price with next-tono service. To follow them down that path is not the road to success. Dinosaurs used to rule the earth. So did old-school growers, retailers and contractors. The dinosaurs are gone. That should tell us

something. Stay on the road to success.


Rod McDonald owned and operated Lakeview Gardens, a successful garden centre/ landscape firm in Regina, Sask., for 28 years. He now works full-time in the world of fine arts, writing, acting and producing in film, television and stage.

lettertotheeditor Re: Rod McDonald’s Canada I just read Rod’s article about Being Canadian in your March Landscape Trades Road To Success. Please pass my kudos on to Rod; what a great article. And he is so right, there are so many amazing people in this industry. Cheers, Brian Perras B.P. Landscaping, Caledon, Ont.




Benchmarking your overhead, Part 1


Recently, I attended a meeting at Landscape Ontario with an objective to create financial benchmarks as guidelines for companies in our industry. For the next few articles, I am going to break down some of the benchmarks into real numbers for you. As you’re reading, I hope you clearly understand the objective. The goal is not to define a company as wrong or right, good or bad, by simple benchmarks. The intent is to provide a general framework for success for owners and managers who may lack experience or a strong financial background. The vast majority of us came from the trade, not from an accounting degree. So read this series with an open mind. It’s not to say you can’t be successful unless you fall into these categories. The purpose is to share some experience and knowledge with those who might be struggling. It’s to provide a simple lighthouse — a general path towards calm waters and safe harbor — for those who are losing sleep at night enduring the ups and downs of managing an unpredictable company in a very unpredictable industry.

Step one: Establish a benchmarking standard The single most important step to benchmarking your data against industry standards, or even in discussions with your industry peers, is to standardize your numbers. Not understanding or communicating what you count as overhead will likely trigger a big misunderstanding. For instance, if Zeke’s Landscape counts all its equipment as overhead, while Abe’s Landscaping treats equipment as a job cost, they are going to have a significant difference in what they spend on overhead. Both will be confused, unless they figure this out first. Briefly, here’s what we include as overhead cost: l All non-estimated expenses including, but not limited to: sales and marketing costs, facility rent and operating costs, office expenses, professional services (such as accounting), banking and finance costs, education and safety costs, insurance and more. l The owners’ salary.

l Any other “office” salaries (people whose

time does not get estimated on jobs), including payroll taxes and liabilities for those people. l All vehicle and equipment expenses not used on jobs (e.g. the owner’s truck). Listing every exact overhead expense would be too detailed for this article, but that should give you a general idea of what we’re including.

Step two: Benchmark Average overhead in the landscape industry is between 20 and 30 per cent of sales. If you’re within that range, you’re close to the industry average. The closer you are to 20 per cent, the more competitive (cheaper) your pricing can be, since your overhead is low. If you’re at or above 30 per cent, you can still be profitable, but your labour rates, etc., are likely higher than industry averages in order to afford your overhead and still make a fair profit.

Step three: Identify and explain exceptions “What if I’m spending less than 20 per cent of my sales on overhead?” There are a couple of reasons you could be lower and still be “normal.” Run through the following checklist and see if any of these conditions apply to your company: l My office is lean and efficient. l I don’t pay rent for a shop or office. l I don’t pay myself very much. l My spouse or partner has an active role in the business, but doesn’t get “paid.” l I (the owner) still work primarily in the field. l I’m just starting my company from scratch. 34 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

There’s nothing wrong with spending less than the industry average. You’re going to be able to price work very competitively and it can mean you’re running a very lean, very efficient company. On the other hand, low overhead can also be a sign that you should (and maybe even need to) invest more in your business, in order to grow to the next level. It could be time to spend more on sales and marketing, pay yourself a better wage, or possibly even hire someone to help you keep your jobs organized and on-time. (If your overhead is low and your labour is high, this is a strong indicator you need some help!). “What if I’m spending more than 30 per cent of my sales on overhead expenses?” Typically, when companies spend more than 30 per cent of their sales on overhead, they struggle to be competitive on price, or they struggle to make a consistent, fair net profit. But it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem; it just means you are spending more than the average. First, double-check what we defined as ‘overhead’ earlier in this article. If, for example, you included all your vehicles and equipment as an overhead expense, you’re almost certainly going to be higher than av-

erage (since we did not). Then run through this checklist to see if any of these apply to your company: l We don’t have much labour or equipment and we subcontract a lot of our work. l We recently expanded the shop or office. l We recently hired more overhead staff to help us grow the business. l Two (or more) owners in the business are trying to pay themselves too much based on the company’s current sales. l We recently made a big investment in sales and marketing.

facilities in place, and run very efficient field operations. Their “high” overhead consists of great systems and management to effectively control day-to-day operations. Companies in this category can be profitable, since their high overhead is offset by lowerthan-average spending when it comes to labour and equipment. They get more work done with less people and equipment. LT

Those are just some common reasons your overhead could be higher than average. There are many other reasons as well. High overhead can be a strong indicator of inefficiency or productivity problems. It’s saying you have the infrastructure and management in place to do more work — but you’re not getting enough sales (so you are spending a higher percentage of your revenue on overhead). It must also be noted there are many profitable, great companies that run with higher-than-average overhead. These companies typically have great management and

Mark Bradley is president of TBG Landscape and LMN, based in Ontario. Financial benchmarks contained in this article are gathered from industry surveys and one-on-one experiences with thousands of landscape contractors across North America. No LMN user data was analyzed or used to provide information for this article.

Coming in June: How Canadian landscape companies are improving their overhead percentages.

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A case study: Importance of contract terms BY ROBERT KENNALEY

In the early 2000s, a husband and wife owned a cottage on lakefront property northwest of Perry Sound, Ont. They severed the land to create a vacant lot, and gave that lot to their daughter. The lot they gave away had road access, while the lot they retained did not. The parents did not retain or place an easement over the daughter’s lot when the transfer was made, and accessed their cottage through adjoining lands on the other side, where they operated an inn. Although the parents had talked about addressing the issue (and even started down the road with draft documents), this never occurred. Years later, the inn was sold and, again, no right of access to the ‘middle’ lot was retained or granted. In 2015, the parents’ bank was taking steps to sell the middle lot, which had no road access, and was land-locked, except for access from the water. The bank brought an application for an order declaring that an “easement of necessity” existed over the adjacent property, in favour of the cottage lot. The applications judge granted the easement based on necessity because, although there was access from the lake, that access was “impractical” and did not provide a “viable, or practical, means of access.” The daughter, who knew the cottage lot would be sold by the bank and didn’t want strangers accessing her property, appealed. The starting point for the Court of Appeal was that, because the case involved a grantor, the test was strict necessity. This, based on well-established case law, was to ensure that grantors of land cannot resile from the terms of their grants. The Court of Appeal held that an easement of necessity will only 36 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

be found if an easement was absolutely necessary in order for the grantor to be able to access the property at the time of the grant. The Court further noted that water access to property historically has defeated a claim of necessity, regardless of how inconvenient it might be. The Court held the test to be whether or not the water access was ‘strictly impossible,’ not ‘practically impossible.’ The bank argued, based on a Nova Scotia decision, that the Court should recognize an easement of necessity as a matter of public policy — because it is in the interests of public policy that land be used, rather than rendered useless. In rejecting the argument, allowing the appeal and refusing to grant an easement, the Court of Appeal held that: “easements of necessity flow from the intentions of the parties to a grant, not from public policy. Put another way, public policy does not provide an independent

basis for a court to recognize an easement of necessity regardless of the parties’ intentions in particular circumstances.”

“ The time to plan to ensure that everyone is on the same page is at the outset — when everyone is getting along and before any problems arise.” In other words, the Court of Appeal looked to the grant itself towards determining the intention of the parties at the time of the grant. The Court applied the test of strict necessity because grantors are expect-

ed to include easements in the grant if that is their intention. The Court would not look behind the documents to determine another intention, and would not apply public policy arguments to later create an easement because the effect of the grant was to make an adjoining parcel practically, though not strictly, impossible.

Robert Kennaley is with Kennaley Construction Law, a professional corporation practicing construction law out of offices in Toronto and Simcoe, Ont. He speaks and writes regularly on construction law and contract issues and can be reached at 416-700-4142,

519-426-2577, and at This material is for information purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice in relation to any particular fact situation. Readers who have concerns about any particular circumstance are encouraged to seek independent legal advice in that regard.

The lesson to be learned is consistent with a message we have been delivering in these columns, from time to time, over the years: the contracts we draw up or agree to are important because they may be strictly interpreted in the event of a dispute. Be it in contract negotiation or in succession planning, we should never presume that, because everyone is getting along well now, they will get along in the future. The time to plan to ensure that everyone is on the same page is, indeed, at the outset — when everyone is getting along and before any problems arise. Furthermore, and as we have written in previous columns in relation to regulatory enforcement, contractual notice provisions and tendering agreements, the Court of Appeal in Ontario has telegraphed its intention to, all things being equal, hold parties to the strict terms of their agreements. This is another example of such an approach. While the Courts in other jurisdictions may take a different approach in some circumstances, it is nonetheless important that we do what we can to get our contracts right, understand what the contracts say, and then follow those contracts, so we can avoid a strict interpretation against us in the event something goes wrong.



New firm is born I also have an announcement this month. After developing my construction law practice for 20 years with Andy McLauchlin of McLauchlin & Associates, I have opened my own firm, Kennaley Construction Law. Our goal is to embrace the ‘culture shift’ we have been writing about, and which was called for by the Supreme Court of Canada in the way we practice law in Canada. We will continue to write in this space and thank all of our LT readers for this opportunity.



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Contractors, designers, and the value of a good plan BY AUDRIANA VANDERWERF, CLD Urban Oasis

Landscape design has proven to be the greatest career choice for me and many of you — my colleagues! Combining ingenuity, resources and know-how with client budget and wish lists bestows each day with fun, stress, revelations, hair-pulling, elation and ultimate satisfaction. We are on-site, in office, in vehicles — often the vehicle IS the office — making decisions and creating solutions every hour of our exciting days. Being outdoors is an enviable bonus: refreshing, healthy and perfect soul food. We’ve seen a lot of advancement in this career, from sketching on napkins to the performance technology of today. Landscape design education has gone from Plant ID in night school, to three-year college programs and university degrees, with life-time support from peers, such as CNLA members. Indeed, what was once an offering by gardeners is a bustling career on its own.

Perhaps the biggest struggle has been taking clients along with us on this ever-advancing path. While impressed with ideas and rem-

edies they ‘never would have thought of,’ they further enjoy the visuals of computer assisted designs, perhaps with colour and perspective enhancements, yet many still don’t understand why they have to pay for

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it! Perhaps their parents and grandparents got designs for “free,” and they aren’t aware of industry advances. “Most clients have no idea what is involved in the design process,” says Andrea Weddum,

Senior Designer with Gelderman Landscape Services in Waterdown, Ont. “The key is to communicate very clearly what exactly it is that you will deliver to them.” I am often asked what the design fee includes, and once all deliverables are explained, people realize they would hardly expect an interior design or a home design to be free. How is an exterior plan any different? With some veterans charging more, the national average rate for a landscape master plan by a Certified Landscape Designer (CLD) is $75-100 per hour, enough to raise the eyebrows of many homeowners. Chris Clayton, a Toronto-based Landscape Architect and CLD, trusts his instincts when first meeting with clients. “You can price yourself out of the market; however you have to decide how low you can go. I went on many initial calls where it was ob-

the client may begin or end here, and it’s as much your choice as theirs. Just as the customers are searching for the designer who is the ‘right fit,’ we must also consult with discretion. “An honorable sense of ethic, great talent and good chemistry between clients and

designers are priceless,” says Julie Moore of Modern Landscape Designers in Whitby, Ont. “If people do not see my talent nor value my expertise, then it wouldn’t be enjoyable to work together.” Her advice? “Be selective and enjoy your work with clients that recognize your talents and value your

When executed by experts, landscape designs find solutions to many concerns, including grading, drainage, neighbours, and plants to name just a few. vious after a short conversation that they couldn’t afford me or didn’t want to pay my fees. You then politely tell the prospective client your fees one last time, and ask them to get back to you should they decide to go ahead with the project.” This is notable. While it can be initially intimidating to stand in front of potential clients and have them question your fees, we must remember our value and maintain our numbers. “There is no set formula to determine fees; you have to go out and try,” Clayton says. Your overall relationship with APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |




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designersnotebook and disagreements between the parties — to name a few. Add to that creative transitions without which the plan wouldn’t flow. But have you communicated this to your clients? We can’t forget that what comes second nature to us is a valuable commodity to others. Weddum agrees: “We have to know our own value in order to sell our own value. If a potential client is trying to barter with you on a price or asking for a free design, these are warning signs that hours of work will not be paid for, or appreciated, causing frusLT tration and regret. Who needs that?” landscape design flair.” Critically, professionals who work for design/build contractors need to communicate the value of the design to every client. It’s not just about the sale of labour or getting the job. Contractors who design or employ a designer do their business and their industry a great disservice by negotiating a free plan

for the contract. Sure, we know you hide the fee in the estimate, but the perception is, the time and talent that went into the plan is disposable. And that’s a giant step backwards. When executed by experts, landscape designs develop solutions to grading and slopes, existing structures and plants, neighbours, drainage, allergies, spatial problems

Audriana VanderWerf is an Ontario-based landscape design professional and Certified Landscape Designer.

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industrynews Southeast); Petunia Evening Scentsation F1 (Regional-Heartland, Greatlakes, West/Northwest); Squash Sugaretti F1 (Regional-Southeast); Tomato Midnight Snack F1 (National); Watermelon Gold in Gold F1 (National).

Synthetic Turf hires sales manager

Grow17 trade show and conference offered delegates education, networking and an award-winning luncheon.

Grow17 provides networking and learning opportunities

Grey to Green Conference slated for May

The Manitoba Nursery Landscape Association (MBNLA) Grow17 trade show and conference provided a venue for green professionals to connect, share experiences and learn on Feb. 23 at Canad Inns Destination Centre in Winnipeg. A full educational schedule covered topics important to everyone involved in the industry. The day started with breakfast, association business and board elections at the annual general meetings for MBNLA and Landscape Manitoba Horticultural Foundation. With five seminar tracks, 24 sessions and 21 speakers, it wasn’t easy to decide which session to attend. Those that came in groups adopted the ‘divide and conquer’ method. Others that came solo took an ‘eenie-meenie-miney-mo’ approach. Strategically placed breaks provided the opportunity to connect between sessions. Lunch allowed everyone to enjoy a delicious meal together and the chance to ‘ooh and awe’ over the 2017 Awards of Excellence winning projects. Attendees left lunch eager for the afternoon sessions and excited for the upcoming season. Presentations wrapped up with Greg Wood’s keynote, How to be a REAL Success, where he blended his work experiences with his unique talents as a comedian. This jam-packed day finished off with the Grow Social and lots of mixing and mingling. Grow18 will take place on Feb. 18, 2018.

The Grey to Green Conference returns to Toronto May 8-10; keynote speakers include Landscape Ontario’s executive director Tony DiGiovanni, City of Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat and Ramboll Liveable Cities Lab director Herbert Dreiseitl. The conference is dedicated to promoting green infrastructure, and its theme for 2017 is “Quantifying green infrastructure performance.” In addition to conference sessions, Grey to Green also includes a trade show, tours of outstanding Toronto projects and networking events. It is presented by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the Green Infrastructure Foundation and the City of Toronto. For more information visit

Synthetic Turf International of Canada has named Robert Burrows, AGS, CGCS, MS, as its Canadian National Sales Manager. Burrows comes to Synthetic Turf Canada with an Honours Certificate in Advanced Business Principles from the University of Western Ontario Ivey School of Business. He also maintains Horticultural Turf Management degrees from the University of Guelph, University of Massachusetts and York University. Burrows is a past president of both the CGSA and OGSA, with over 20 years’ experience in the golf industry at prestigious courses such as Fairmont Banff Springs, Rosedale, Hillsdale and Credit Valley.

Dates set for vegetable trials Vegetable breeding companies dealing in the fresh market and home garden segments are hosting the Summer Vegetable Trials via Open Houses and Field Days Aug. 14-19, 2017. Modeled after the long-standing California Spring Trials, held annually in April, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeder company trial sites throughout the state in the month of August. To view specific dates, visit

AAS announces latest winners All-America Selections, the only non-profit trialing organization for plants that demonstrate great garden performance throughout North America, presents eight new AAS Winners. Each of the following was trialed in North America by professional, independent, volunteer judges who grew them next to comparisons that are considered best-in-class. This new group of AAS Winners for 2017/2018 includes: Bean, Pole Seychelles (National); Pepper Aji Rico F1 (National); Pepper Chili Pie F1 (National); Pepper Sweetie Pie F1 (Regional-Heartland, Northeast,

Vegetable trial gardens offer the opportunity for attendees to visit breeders. APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |


industrynews Terra Nova celebrates 25 years Terra Nova Nurseries, a world leader in plant breeding, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its founding. Ken Brown and Dan Heims formed a professional alliance that would change the face of horticulture. Along with co-founders Jody Brown and Lynne Bartenstein, they verti-

past 26 years. We have received an outpouring of understanding and hopeful comments from many of our customers. We understand that this is not ideal and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We are concerned for our employees, suppliers, growers and all those we have affected at this time. Unfortunately this was the only option for EuroAmerican Propagators. We hope for the best.”

Schiller acquires mower line

Terra Nova’s award-winning perennials and annuals have changed the face of horticulture.

cally integrated a breeding company and tissue culture facility, combining forces to generate and introduce a stable of more than 1,000 new perennials and annuals. Many of these new plants have won national and international awards, and ongoing breeding accomplishments have put genera such as Heuchera and Tiarella on the horticulture map.

SIMA 2017 heads to Montreal The Snow and Ice Management Association’s (SIMA) 20th annual Snow and Ice Symposium will be held at Montreal’s Palais des congrès June 20-23. It is the industry’s largest conference and trade show and a favourite of snow and ice professionals. This event brings innovative manufacturers and suppliers together with contractors for two days of trade show and three days of education, networking and fun. For full details, visit

Euroamerican Propagators files for bankruptcy Euroamerican Propagators in Bonsall, Calif., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Southern District of California U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Jan. 23, 2017. Chapter 7 bankruptcy “provides for ‘liquidation’ — the sale of a debtor’s nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors.” After the filing, the company released the following statement: “At this time we would like to say, thank you. We have appreciated all of our customers business over the 42 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES

Schiller Grounds Care of Johnson Creek, Wisc., a manufacturer of lawn and garden power equipment, has acquired all assets related to the Eastman Industries 21-inch commercial heavy-duty mower family. The new models in the acquisition will be added to Schiller’s BobCat brand of commercial mowers. Bob-Cat currently offers full-size, commercial walk-behind mowers with deck sizes from 32 to 61 inches. Bob-Cat will begin production on these mowers in 2017 at its Johnson Creek, Wisc., facility.

Hamilton removes infested ash trees Hamilton, Ont., municipal workers have begun removing dozens of infested ash trees from the city’s Confederation Park. Approximately 66 dead or dying trees infested by emerald ash borer (EAB) are being replaced with new tree species to help diversify Hamilton’s urban forest. The City of Hamilton says the highly destructive invasive beetle has the potential to destroy Hamilton’s entire ash population by 2020. In 2012, the city approved a 10-year plan to remove all impacted city-owned ash trees.

Soil health report released Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, Dianne Saxe, has released a technical report, Putting Soil Health First: A Climate-Smart Idea for Ontario. The report shows how healthy soils can mitigate climate change, while also increasing yields, protecting the environment and increasing farm profits. On average, Ontario agricultural soils have suffered serious losses of organic matter in the last 30 years. This reduces soils’ ability to absorb and hold water and nutrients, so they dry out faster in droughts and become flooded and erode easily in heavy rain. Fortunately, soil carbon can be built up by better farming practices; the reports profiles several farmers who are leaders in enhancing soil health. LT

events April 28-May 14, Arbor Week May 8-19, Grey to Green Conference June 17-19, Garden Days, June 20-22, Salon du Vegetal, Nantes, France June 20-23, 20th Annual Snow and Ice Symposium, Montreal, Que. June 23, Canadian Water Summit 2017, Toronto, Ont. June 25-28, Garden Centers of America Summer Tour, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va. July 2-18, IPPS International Tour and Conference: European Region, July 15-18, Cultivate ’17, Columbus, Ohio. July 29-August 2, ISA Annual Conference and Trade Show, Washington, D.C. August 13-16, Toronto Fall Gift Fair, Toronto, Ont. August 15-17, Independent Garden Centre Show, Chicago, Ill. August 23-26, Plantarium, Boskoop, N.L. August 24-26, Farwest Show, Portland, Ore. September 11-13, GLEE, Birmingham, U.K. Sept. 13-16, Communities in Bloom 2017 National Symposium on Parks and Grounds and Awards Ceremonies, Ottawa, Ont. LT

ontarioupdate Landscape Trades devotes space in each issue to provincial association news. This issue features an update from Landscape Ontario. Volunteer commitment and leadership is the heart of Landscape Ontario’s success. Members are proud to look back on a year’s worth of activity that promotes their sectors, and drives demand for their products. President Paul Brydges selected “Drawn Together” as his term’s theme. He consistently — and patiently — reminds members to ditch the term “landscape industry,” and use “landscape profession” instead. Paul is the first LO president to hold landscape architecture credentials, and he has been instrumental in fostering cooperation between landscape designers and landscape architects. That partnership is working towards establishing a provincial Name Act for landscape designers, as well as a Practice Act for landscape architects. On top of that effort, LO’s Designer sector group recently held a successful conference. The Contractor and Grounds Management groups joined forces to stage a symposium and lecture. Sectorspecific events were also held by the Irrigation, Grower, Lighting, Garden Centre and Lawn Care groups. Ten sector groups operate under the LO umbrella, and in all cases, members benefit from advocacy, education and networking. While the sector groups address specialties, LO’s nine local chapters bring regional communities together. Chapters organize full schedules of meetings, fun social events, and three chapters even produce trade shows. In addition, chapter volunteers come up with unique and ambitious community projects. To mention just a few, the London Chapter built a memorial to Navy soldiers lost in the Battle of the Atlantic;

the Ottawa Chapter grooms the National Military Cemetery each Remembrance Day; the Toronto Chapter built an accessible outdoor learning space for challenged students; the Georgian Lakelands Chapter filled a landscape trailer for a food bank drive; the Waterloo Chapter greened a school yard; the Windsor Chapter improved landscapes at a hospice and a children’s village ... space does not allow full mention of even one year’s worth of Chapter projects. LO’s Congress trade show brings landscape professionals together from across the continent. Optimism pervaded the January 2017 show, which hosted over 600 exhibitors and 13,000 attendees. Congress Committee chair Michael LaPorte and his team exemplified volunteer leadership at its best. The Congress Conference program attracts enthusiastic attendees to its high-quality education sessions; many held this January drew standing-room-only audiences. Congress makes significant efforts to show respect for students, treating them as future talent. The show helps coordinate student delegations from Ontario’s horticulture programs. It also donates floor space for student gardens, where students strive for the best in craftsmanship and design. LO’s Awards of Excellence ceremony is a Congress highlight. Entries are rated on a point system, and only those above a threshold denoting excellence receive awards. Special recognition went to Landmark Group, Pro-Land Landscape Construction and Wentworth Landscapes. The Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation supports horticulture’s future by funding research and scholarships. It awarded $47,000

London Chapter took part in planting at the forks of the Thames River, for the HMCS Provost. This is a tribute to the ships and men of The Royal Canadian Navy; honouring those who made the supreme sacrifice and whose final resting place cannot be marked by graves.

in scholarships to 41 recipients this year, who were recognized at the Awards ceremony. Other event highlights included honorary life membership for Mark Cullen, and special distinction awards for Scott Wentworth, Jean Huard, John Moons, John Larsen, Janet Mott, Christine Moffit and Sherri Hornsey. NVK Holdings received LO’s Legacy Award. One reason cited for Mark Cullen’s special recognition was his leadership in the Highway of Heroes project. Its aim is to plant 117,000 trees along Hwy. 401 between Trenton and Toronto, one tree for every fallen Canadian soldier. Landscape Ontario members are proud of their extensive participation in this project. Volunteer leadership helps drive the province’s professional development efforts, as well. The Peer-to-Peer Network, born out of LO’s Prosperity Partnership, helps business owners improve their operations through interaction with peer participants. LO’s extensive winter seminar program educates both owners and front-line staffers on business management and practical topics. Over 110 seminars were offered during the 2016/2017 season. Another top Ontario priority is apprenticeship. Recent concerted effort has placed 78 new apprentices into training — a 30 per cent increase, and a big win for both apprentices and employers. LO’s Human Resources Development Committee is also active in supporting Skills Canada, certification, career promotion and horticultural education. When Landscape Ontario partnered with the Garden Club of Toronto to found Canada Blooms, members could not have envisioned its effectiveness in promoting horticulture. Today, Canada Blooms is co-located with the National Home Show, and treats 200,000 guests to the sights and smells of spring each March. Landscape Ontario uses Canada Blooms to showcase its members and horticulture, and LO members benefit from the profile that comes from building display gardens. Finally, LO’s Provincial Board issued an ambitious challenge: to increase membership by 10 per cent in 2016. The Membership Committee is proud to have achieved that goal in November of 2016, bringing LO’s membership total to 2,722. For more details on Landscape Ontario’s wide-ranging activities, visit www.horttrades. com/annualreport. LT APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES |


newproducts Trimmer series Echo’s new ProXtreme series of 2620 trimmers offers a 25.4 c.c. professional grade engine that delivers 1.35 hp. Equipped with a flex cable drive shaft for quick acceleration, premium two-stage air filtration, advanced “hot re-start” technology, and a larger fuel tank for extended run times. It also features a 17-in. cutting swath. Echo

Walk-behind concrete trowels Atlas Copco introduced three new walk-behind power trowels — the BG 245, BG 375 and BG 475 — which include upgraded features that enhance versatility and safety on a variety of applications, from fine edge to rough surface concrete finishing. The units can be equipped with either a twist pitch or quick pitch for optimal performance on a wide range of jobs. Atlas Copco also designed the trowels with its exclusive QuickStop feature that stops the blade rotation immediately after the operator releases the handles. This results in zero-degree spin that minimizes the risk of injury. Atlas Copco

Tree saw The new Baumalight DSA530 Dropsaw’s 180 degree rotating cutting head offers precision control to make quick and clean work of trimming and limbing. The head rotates on a helical rotary actuator. The unique design of this actuator keeps all moving parts enclosed for protection and long life. The helical actuator has incredibly precise positioning and holding power so you can confidently place the saw in the angle. Baumalight

Compact wheel loader The new John Deere 324K compact wheel loader is now available with a high-lift option, which is especially beneficial in landscape applications. With increased reach and height to hinge pin, the 324K high-lift is especially adept at dumping into feed mixers and quickly stacking lighter loads. This high-lift configuration enables sure roll back to carry loads without spilling and solid stability of lighter materials. John Deere

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Compact loader The CTX100 compact utility loader from Vermeer is equipped with versatile features such as dual hydraulic auxiliary controls and a universal mounting plate. The machine features a 40 hp (29.8 kW) turbocharged engine. Vermeer 44 | APRIL 2017 | LANDSCAPE TRADES


Portable box screener

Host device Vaisala launches a new host device for GMP251 and GMP252 carbon dioxide probes. Indigo 201 is the first product in a series of host devices, designed to extend functionalities for existing and future Vaisala’s Indigocompatible probes. Indigo 201 provides an optional display, analog outputs and relays, and a wireless user interface accessed easily by, for example, a mobile phone. Vaisala

Lake Erie Portable Screeners introduces a portable box screener as a smaller, economical alternative to the Pitbull 2300. The Pitbull 2300B has no conveyors and features a smaller frame, allowing it to boast the durability, portability and screening rate of the 2300 at almost half the cost. The new model is simpler, lighter and more compact than the larger version, yet delivers high outputs with a wide range of materials, including topsoil, mulch, gravel, stone and asphalt. Lake Erie Portable Screeners

Track loader The TL12R2 radial track loader by Takeuchi-US replaces the TL12 and features an operating weight of 12,530 lbs. It delivers over 6.5 per cent more operating capacity, and has a tipping load of 8,629 lbs. The machine also features a bucket breakout force of 8,210 lbs., has a maximum hinge pin height of 10 ft. 6 in., a dump height of 7 ft. 10.5 in., and dump reach of 3 ft. 1.8 in. Takeuchi-US

Electric outdoor equipment Dewalt expands the Flexvolt System with outdoor power equipment. Featuring batteries that automatically change voltage when the user changes tools, the outdoor power equipment lineup will include the new 60V Max chainsaw, handheld blower, and string trimmer, all featuring the new Flexvolt 60V Max 3.0Ah battery (9.0Ah when used in 20V Max tools). Dewalt

Paver Cassara Verde by Permacon is an ecologically responsible, vegetated paving system that reduces runoff water and is ideal for vehicular areas. Permacon




Bruce Hunter, President

New terms begin for CNLA Executive Committee Anthony O’Neill became the newest member on the CNLA Executive Committee, during the association’s annual general meeting earlier this year. O’Neill is embarking on a 10-year commitment that begins with a two-year term as CNLA Treasurer, then moving on to Second Vice President, First VP, President and then finishing as a Past President. Completing her 10-year commitment on the Executive is Christene LeVatte, part-owner of Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle in Sydney, N.S. CNLA extends a huge thank-you to Christene for her years of service and dedication on the CNLA Board of Directors. Christene will continue to be involved in various committees, including the busy Canadian Landscape Standard sub-committee.

Gerald Boot, First Vice President

Phil Paxton moved from Treasurer to Second Vice President, while Gerald Boot moved to First Vice President. Rene Thiebaud gave his President’s gavel to Bruce Hunter, Lead Designer at Hunter Landscape Design in Surrey, B.C. “Rene’s focused presidency was good for industry,” says CNLA Executive Director Victor Santacruz. “Highlights of his term include encouraging the creation of a foundation; having CNLA access AgriMarketing funding to help members sell more exports; generating focus on a national public relations plan; and seeing the launch of the first ever Canadian Landscape Standard. Along with these groundbreaking initiatives, Rene always ensured that the CNLA was supporting the work of the provincial associations, and our other allied associations including the Canadian Garden Council, Communities in Bloom and the Canadian Ornament-

Phil Paxton, Second Vice President

al Horticulture Alliance. We look forward to two more great years under the leadership of Bruce Hunter, who has proven himself a hard-working and dedicated volunteer.” At the recent CNLA Board meetings, the Executive Committee and committee chairs met to review priorities for the association. The group was reminded of the CNLA mission and vision, in order to maintain focus as the association continues to grow and increase its offerings. Therefore, all tactics are set with the goal of “a prosperous, professional and ethical industry that is recognized, valued, and utilized by the public, as a result of the environmental, economic, and life-style benefits provided by our members’ products and services.” At the tactical planning meeting, four tactics stood out as key priorities over the next two to three years. Each item has a dedicated CNLA

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staff person and volunteer assigned to it; as well, the Executive Committee will review any updates on a weekly basis. The four key priorities as set by the CNLA board are: l Telling our story: Increasing the industry’s public profile. l Government relations: Improving/creating relationships with key government stakeholders. l Capacity building: Renewed focus on membership recruitment and consistency of messaging amongst the provincial associations. l Availability of Labour and Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Continue activities with government agencies on improving access to labour and apprenticeship. Continued investment in the Skills Canada competitions.

Landscape Canada Committee extends a big thank you to Tim Kearney for his leadership and drive to make this a national program. Thank you to Jeff Foley for his foresight to bring this project back to the Professional Development Committee, ensuring this designation is promoted and recognized in such high regard as our other certification programs across Canada. The committee would also like to extend gratitude to the companies that did the pilot with us; thank you to Brent Ayles, Harold Deenen, John Van Roessel, Jeff Foley, Paul Doornbos, Phil Paxton, Leslie Cornell and David Hinton. We realize there were others as well who were interested in doing the pilot, but did not fit the criteria, and we thank them for their support along the way. Stay tuned for more information as this exciting initiative begins to get officially rolled out!

Accreditation program approved

National Garden in Ottawa

gathering. It will educate Canadians on living green infrastructure by preserving and enhancing the quality of the natural environment, including water, air, flora and fauna. The mission is to have the Government of Canada support and recognize that a national garden in the Capital Region of Ottawa would benefit all Canadians. Canada is the only G7 nation without a national garden, so this is an opportunity to establish one that includes building a centre of excellence that educates youth on living green infrastructure and provide a public gathering place to introduce all ages to Canada’s rich garden heritage. By including a research component, it will be a showcase to the world. The CNLA Government Relations committee is working with a group of volunteers to promote this opportunity to different levels of government in hopes that it will be adopted and implemented. LT

The Company Accreditation Program has been a project in the works for over 10 years, and has now been completed and approved due to the hard work of our dedicated volunteers who have helped make this dream become a reality. The

CNLA officially supports a proposal to create a National Garden of Canada as a centre of excellence, which will document past horticultural achievements, host living presentations of green infrastructure, and be a place for public

The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association is the federation of Canada’s provincial horticultural trade associations. Visit for more information. 2564 Brennan Line, Orillia, ON Office: 705-325-7111 Cell: 705-795-9504



classifieds SERVICES AND SUPPLIES CLEARANCE SALE Large Hackberry and other trees, irrigation supplies, sulphuric acid, fiberglass tree stakes, etc. See website for more items, prices and more details. Contact Vic Palmer 519-327-8142

CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING INFORMATION: All classified ads must be pre-paid by credit card. Rates: $62.15 (HST included) per column inch (approx. 25 words). Minimum charge $62.15. Deadline: 10th day of the month prior to issue date. January deadline is Nov. 15. Space is limited to a first-come, first-served basis. Paid ads are also posted to the website for the same month they appear in the printed magazine. To advertise: E-mail your name, phone number and ad to Robert at classifieds@landscapeontario. com. Website only advertising: Minimum cost is $67.80 HST included for association members and $90.40 HST included for non-members, up to 325 words. If over 325 words, an additional $20.00 fee applies. Website ads are posted for 31 days. For more ads and full details, visit Post employment ads for free at


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EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES NURSERY FIELD PRODUCTION MANAGER Job Requirements: • Ability to develop and execute production programs. • Minimum 5 years production nursery management. • Strong leadership skills. • Dynamic personality with the ability to motivate and influence others. • Team oriented and ability to work across departments. • Strong organizational skills and ability to read and interpret data reports. • Demonstrated desktop computer skills. • Mechanically inclined. Responsibilities: • Manage day to day field operations. • Manage insect and disease issues. • Manage field fertility. • Manage irrigation schedules, design, construction and maintenance. • Organize and manage staff. • Actively participate in management meetings. • Manage maintenance of equipment. This is a working position. Wage: to be negotiated. Send resume to

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Environmental opportunity adds value Christene Stenhouse LeVatte

is co-owner of Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle based in Cape Breton, N.S., a family design/build firm celebrating 42 years in business. She is past president of Landscape Nova Scotia, past president of CNLA, current chair of the Canadian Landscape Standard Committee and she sits on both the CNLA and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) Climate Change Task Forces.

Everyone wants to be environmentally friendly, but how do you apply it to your business? Our company culture has always been to reduce, reuse and recycle. Our nursery uses drip irrigation, and we re-use or donate all empty containers; garden clubs take most of them. All vegetative waste is composted on-site. In the office we make an effort to reduce paper, which isn’t always an easy task. But efficient management of resources just makes sense, for Christene Stenhouse LeVatte both the environment and our bottom line. Making the effort to be environmentally conscious is becoming the societal norm. Our staff bring water bottles to work and fill up at the water cooler. Most bring their lunches in reusable containers. Less waste and better consumer product choices just happens now, and we see it especially with our younger crew members, who cannot remember a time where there wasn’t a blue box in their home. Before I even put pencil to paper, or more accurately, mouse to Dynascape, sites are assessed for not only environmental solutions, but also environmental opportunities. Top of that list for most sites is the capturing and directing of groundwater away from storm sewers to vegetated swales, through permeable hard surfaces or via downspouts into rain water catchment. Green infrastructure trumps grey infrastructure every time, and if we can offer the client a green infrastructure alternative, we will. We also use the Canadian Landscape Standard as the foundation for all our design, installation and maintenance work. This standard is like any tool, if used correctly and to its potential, it’s a win-win for your business and your clients.


How do you educate your clients on these issues? Our landscape design has become laser-focused to consider overall contribution to the client’s landscape in terms of function, aesthetic and the environment. The proper product mix, proper installation and construction and on-going maintenance of the entire landscape is imperative if the landscape is to do its job. Our clients are getting it; they are making the connection, and they are vested in the success of their investment. It’s the ultimate value-added selling. Clients are anxious to help. The internet is a powerful communicator so people know the time is now to care about their environment, make informed choices and be part of the solution. They want to know what they can do. As the landscape designers, they look to us for answers. We hold the power to influence client choices and that is a role for which we must be professionally prepared. We are launching a new website that will offer our clients information and ideas on how they can make environmentally sustainable choices for their own homes and landscapes. Our online design will prompt and guide clients to think about their landscape as part of a holistic ecosystem that contributes positively to our environment. It will talk about climate change and what we can all do, to do our part. It will include a simple checklist of landscape components clients can consider. Not every component applies to every client, but we expect the design checklist will provoke thought, and we hope, inspire better landscape choices. You have been quite active on environmental stewardship committees at Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA). Why is this topic so important to you and your business? Climate change and environmental stewardship is kind of like the perfect storm for our industry right now. It’s the right thing to do, and it is an industry responsibility, but it’s also an opportunity. The public knows these environmental issues are important, and they want to do their part. Product selection, the proper installation of that product and the care of that product over its lifetime has never been so important as it is now, in the new reality of climate change mitigation and adaptation. It’s a competitive advantage for professionals in our industry, and its importance is only going to grow. LT



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April 2017 Landscape Trades  

Special focus issue on the business of green: eco-landscaping, electric equipment, paring water use