Earthstyle Autumn Winter 2020

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FROM HARVEST TO HOME, YOU’RE IN CONTROL ORDER TURF ONLINE TRACK IN REAL TIME Get your perfect lawn in an instant. Order your turf online at your convenience with the StrathAyr EZY-ORDER system and track the delivery to your site in real time with Smart TrackAyr on your phone. We guarantee our best quality StrathAyr turf, where you need it and when you need it. Visit or call 03 57354122 to order your turf or for helpful, friendly advice. Turf Professional EZY-ORDER Codes are also available for businesses.

Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

table of contents Cover Page: Ian Barker Gardens by Erik Holt Photography

Earthstyle is published twice a year. For all advertising and editorial enquiries contact the editor. Publisher: Landscaping Victoria Master Landscapers Waterman Business Park Suite 237, 44 Lakeview Drive, Scoresby VIC 3179 t 03 8761 9137 e Editor: Jo Reid Design: Pufferfish Marketing Photography: Members own images unless stated Earthstyle ©2020. The material contained in this publication is general comment and is not intended as advice on any particular matter. No reader should act on the basis of any article. Readers should consult professional advisors. All care is taken in the preparation of the publication but no responsibility is accepted by Landscaping Victoria Master Landscapers for the accuracy of the published information.

From our President


From our Executive Officer


The seeds of opportunity


Consistency in a time of change


Contract works and liability insurance: what builders and tradespeople need to know during COVID-19 restrictions 11 Corporate social responsibility and ethical sourcing


Growing together in a changed environment 22 Futureproofing your business


Don't throw away your work boots donate them to Boots for Tradies!


There's never been a better time to join


Commercial contracts


Automating your business


Podcasts 33

Navigating the current landscape: adapting to the changing circumstances of the current climate


Japanese maple: one of the most versatile plants for use in the garden

Getting back to business: seize this HR opportunity 37


Nearly business as usual at Yarabee & Castlemaine Stone Solutions

Collaborative groups produce greater results 39


# in this together

Social media in changed times



Landscape construction apprenticeships can add value in any environment 20

From our presiden't GEORGIA HARPER, PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPING VICTORIA MASTER LANDSCAPERS I’m sure you’ll agree that so far, 2020 has been a challenging, confronting time for us all. In every way, we’ve had to take a very hard look at our businesses, family priorities, health, mental stamina, and the many issues that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For most, it’s been a time where every aspect of our lives has come under some kind of pressure and has prompted some introspection. Over the past weeks, we at LV have been very busy helping to protect as many member’s livelihoods as possible through activities such as lobbying state and federal governments to keep our industry open, reaching out to partners and allied associations in Victoria and interstate, and our weekly ‘beer garden’ sessions to help support each other and share information. All of these activities have been consistent every week of this pandemic, and you can be assured that the Board is committed to not only keeping our industry open in the short term, but in supporting our members in any way that we can and laying the groundwork in the months ahead to help members recover and thrive.

These are new challenges, to be sure - but I’m very proud to be able to say that Megan, Victoria, Jo and Colleen have risen to each one and exceeded expectations in what is a very difficult set of circumstances to navigate. In this edition of Earthstyle, I hope you’ll take heart in the fact that many have been through rough times and come out the other side with renewed purpose and a stronger business. This is our wish for every LV Member moving forward. As the dust starts to settle, many businesses are using this as a force for positive change. LV is no different in this regard and I urge you to involve yourself in this new phase - come to meetings (in whatever form they may be), let us know what you need and we will continue to do whatever we can to accelerate every member’s business recovery. In the meantime, stay healthy and my very best to you and yours.

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"I hope you'll take heart in the fact that many have been through rough times and come out the other side with renewed purpose and a stronger business. This is our wish for every LV Member moving forward."

Specialist growers of grafted Australian native plants and more!

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Now is a great time to “Make Hay While the Sun Shines”. Although many would beg to differ and suggest that life has never been so gloomy, there is no doubting that the global pandemic has prompted much introspection, as Georgia mentioned in her Presidential address, and that can be a very positive thing! One of the biggest barriers to working on your business, instead of in it, is TIME. Although many LVML Members are still busy, with shorter commute times, no footy to watch, no sport to take the kids to, no socialising... the precious time that we usually complain we have none of is now available. So how can you utilise that extra time to explore opportunities to make your business better? Upgrade business processes Explore new software that will help you run things more efficiently such as accounting, estimating, team management and project management - read more in our Business Automation article .

If completing a course is not your thing, there’s lots to learn from listening to podcasts, watching TED talks, or picking up a book about best business practices.

Read a good book, bake a cake, pick up your guitar, or even just get out for a daily walk with the kids. Look after your mental health by finding a new hobby or brushing up on an old one.

Become a better leader

While we can’t do anything about how fast time passes, we can control how we use it so take this gift of extra time to review your business and personal goals because…

Business owners are often so busy being busy that leadership is often forgotten. You need to lead from the front and have leaders within the ranks of your staff. This blog from Harvard Business School ( post/coronavirus-tips) contains links to many articles that can assist you through this crisis. Read some yourself and share the link with key staff you identify as leaders to encourage their professional growth. Rediscover a lost love I don’t mean stalking old sweethearts on Facebook. Additional time at home has meant that we’ve had to look for ways to pass the hours so why not start that project you’ve ‘not had time for’ (or finish one that has been collecting dust!).

Learn a new business skill Explore short courses that you can do online through our TAFE Partners Holmesglen, Swinburne, or Box Hill Institute. Or go global and tap into Google Digital Garage, LinkedIn Learning (you can get one month free), or Coursera. 5 of 43

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us" J.R.R. Tolkien

Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

The Seeds of Opportunity

I commenced in the landscape industry as an apprentice in 1986 and started my own business in 1996. Before this current situation I have worked through three serious droughts and two global financial crises. All these events dramatically affected business. How you manage your business during the downturn, and perhaps even more importantly, how you plan for your future beyond the crisis, can set your business up for success in the years ahead.

Twelve years ago the world faced what is now referred to as the ‘GFC.’ It was at this time that I was forced to consider the viability of retaining all my staff. I wrote the names of all my employees on a whiteboard, just over 30 staff. Reflecting on those names was a very sobering experience. I knew I could not retain everyone, it was clear I was going to have to make some very difficult decisions. Those decisions were generally going to be based on good, sound facts, not on personality or personal bias but on who added most value to my business. It was with a heavy heart that several weeks ago, I felt a sense of déjà vu, here we go again...

OUR COVER STORY | IAN BARKER, IAN BARKER GARDENS Despite the fear I also knew that I had to keep making informed decisions. Not decisions based on emotion but based on as many facts as I could gather. One of my first steps was to look to the past to see how other businesses had survived previous downturns. “The recession we had to have,” as announced by the then Treasurer Paul Keating in 1990, is a perfect example. Researching how business survived through this tumultuous period was one of the most valuable steps I undertook and it has stood me in good stead for this current crisis. Still, make no mistake, that sense of fear is still with me, particularly so with this crisis, however, there is no choice but to forge ahead.

Remind staff that now is the time to stay calm and make good decisions. Ask your staff to concentrate on only the things they can control and don’t stress about the things they can’t. Giving them 2 or 3 simple key items to concentrate on is far better than telling them nothing. Be positive but don’t lose their trust by being overly optimistic.

As an employer, manager or supervisor one of the most important roles you have is to lead. Your staff are looking to you more than ever for guidance and reassurance. This is often very challenging, you won’t have all the answers and that’s okay but my advice would be to be as well informed as you possibly can; be honest, frank and inclusive. Times of stress are often the most effective times for staff to really feel they are invested in your business. It is at such times staff can clearly relate their work ethics and contributions to the achievements of your business as a whole.

Look after your current clients. I know we all need new clients, either now or in the months ahead, but don’t forget the clients you have now. Chances are that they will also be under tremendous stress and may be looking for the smallest indiscretion to put your job on hold or cancel a service, so look after them. Make sure your staff are also looking after them and remind your staff that the only reason your business has work is because of the ongoing support of clients.

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Market your business. Now is not the time to stop marketing. In fact, if it is within your means, step your marketing up; while of course paying careful attention to cashflow. There is lots that can be done that doesn’t cost the earth.

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"Out of adversity comes opportunity" - Benjamin Franklin

Sales, not to be confused with marketing... Once you get a sale make sure you are doing all that you can to come across in a calm and professional manner. Dress appropriately (make an effort), clean your car because your clients will notice. How you present tells them a lot about how you will treat their house. Present the quote professionally and obviously follow up after a week or so. I know all this may seem obvious but it is especially in uncertain times that these small things add up and can make all the difference between signing a job or losing one. Financials, we’ve all heard about ‘conserve your cash’ but what does it mean? For me, it is minimising debtors, invoicing quickly and then politely chasing the payment when it becomes due. Paying suppliers when the invoice is due but not early, 14 days could mean the

difference between you having a buffer in your account or not. Where possible look after your suppliers, when we come out of this you will need them as much as they need you now. If you do get into trouble speak to them early. In general, suppliers would much rather negotiate terms rather than lose your ongoing custom when the economy recovers. Identify savings no matter how small, a little saving from multiple sources will add up and can ultimately make a significant impact on your business.

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One of the positives that can be gleaned from times like these are the lessons we can learn. I love seeing those members of our team that really step up when it counts. Use this opportunity to refine your planning and clarify who and what is really important in your business. When life returns to normal you will have a far more streamlined business that will be better equiped to manage the next crisis when it ultimately eventuates. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Out of adversity comes opportunity”.



Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

consistency in a time of change



The last few weeks have given us the opportunity to take stock of where we are. As the population went into isolation and social distancing became a way of life it gave us a chance to reflect on what is important. This pandemic will undoubtedly go down in history as a major event, a thought that has led me to recall something a wise person once said to me, “the further you travel back in time, the more inspiration you have for the future…” Looking back over the 106-year history of Warners has put where we are today into perspective. Established in the same year as the outbreak of World War One, Warners Nurseries had been trading for five years when the Spanish Flu pandemic hit in 1919. Even then, borders were closed, places of entertainment shut, and the Government mandated the wearing of masks in public to help curb the spread. Next the Great Depression and World War Two. It was then that W.R Warner encouraged residents of Melbourne to “grow your own vegetables” to assist the war effort. Then came Vietnam, The Recession we had to have and the GFC along with a number of droughts & flooding rains. Ok, that’s the history lesson over. Even considering past events there is no denying this is a very difficult time to be trading. The shake-up of our ‘normal’ world has forced many of us to view things from a different angle and many businesses have had to make changes to their processes. As growers, we maintain our plant stock by pruning to make way for new shoots to grow, the same approach could be applied to our businesses.

"the further you travel back in time, the more inspiration you have for the future..." What is important is identifying what can be pruned and where new buds are most likely to thrive. Cutting back too far could inhibit growth for years to come. Get it right and the plant will flourish and be healthier.


So, what do we learn when looking back at our history? The key is consistency and reliability. What has not changed at Warners over 106 years is our strong vision, values, hard work and desire to develop relationships. The clarity to focus on what you are best at is often forgotten in the rush to adapt to the latest trends or dealing with day-to-day challenges. Understanding where you fit in the market and reducing the noise and distractions that takes up much of our time helps us gain focus. But, identifying which of these “distractions” may add to the growth of the business is key. Warners’ consistent focus on Quality, Relationships and Service over the years is what leads to and develops trust. It’s ironic that a disease that affects our respiratory system has given us a chance to take a collective breath. Sometimes it takes a major event such as this to make us truly reflect on what is important, to focus on the why we do what we do and ensure we do it even better going forward. 9 of 43




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Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020


Contract works and liability insurance: what builders and tradespeople need to know during COVID-19 restrictions The impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s building industry is a key concern for Insurance House Group and our clients. The building industry is facing unprecedent challenges and now more than ever, it is imperative that your business has the appropriate level of cover in place to ensure your business and your projects are properly protected. Below are some key things to keep in mind to assist your business in loss prevention via a Contract Works & Liability insurance policy. Cessation of Works Exclusion Did you know that the material damage section of a Contracts Works & Liability insurance policy carries a cessation of works exclusion? Coverage varies with each insurer, but if no work has taken place for a period longer than 30 days, cover will typically cease on the Material Damage section of the policy under the cessation of work exclusion. This means that should the Government issue a stop-work order on construction sites, or if a project has commenced and is subsequently indefinitely postponed, there would be no cover for fire, accidental damage, burglary and/or theft, storm and more, unless you speak to us and we contact your insurer for an extension. We ask that all clients be mindful of the exclusion and to please contact me directly for clarity if you have any concerns.

Theft The Material Damage section of the policy covers the goods and materials that comprise the construction works for loss or damage, including theft. During times of economic stress, the construction industry often sees an increase in claims for theft of materials and equipment from construction sites. Thank you for your support and understanding as we work together to overcome this challenge.

MATTHEW STIMPSON 0417 167 912 Matthew is a Construction Insurance Specialist at Insurance House and has been with Insurance House since 2018. Throughout his career he has also spent six years at Master Builders Association and at 11 years at HIA Insurance. If you’re looking for expert knowledge in Construction Works & Liability insurance, Domestic Building insurance (all states), Professional Indemnity or Mobile Plant & Equipment insurance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Matthew today for friendly, professional advice.

General Advice Warning: This advice has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, therefore, consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of your objectives, financial situation or needs before following the advice. Please obtain a copy of, and consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) applicable to the general insurance product before making any decision. Insurance House Pty Ltd ABN 33 006 500 072 AFSL 240954.

Tips to help protect your property: Ensure tools which cannot be removed from the site each day are stored in a securely locked container. Most policies do not cover open air burglary and require evidence of forcible entry.

apply to items being provided by the principal. However policies differ regarding principal supplied items, so I encourage you to check your policy wording.

If practical, fit back-to-base alarms on site, install cameras to monitor the site, employ security and check site gates are securely locked each night.

Simple precautions may include removing visible containers or cartons from the site – particularly those which contain white goods and other valuable items.

Store materials not yet ready for installation in a secure location such as your factory. Construction insurance policies typcially allow coverage for offsite storage if the items are included in your contracted works. This may also 11 of 43

If possible, fit white goods and entertainment equipment hardware close to practical completion, or when the project is due for occupancy.

Products to protect and improve the environment now and for the future

Tree Guards


Tree Collar


Jute Matting

Sediment Control








Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020 JUTE MILL IN BANGLADESH


Corporate Social Responsibility & Ethical Sourcing As a distributor of Jute type products, including erosion control matting and Jute planting squares, it’s incumbent upon us as a business to understand as much as we can about the product and to ensure the product is ethically manufactured and sourced. Being an imported product, the Jute range is not as easy to educate ourselves about as a locally made product. So, in January 2020, Sure Gro Tree Max set out on a mission to understand all there is to know about Jute: how the product is derived and manufactured; ethical, sustainable and social procurement considerations; and learning about what innovations we can introduce into the Australian market. We sent our National Sales Manager, Neil Taylor as well as our Landscape and Civil Key Account Manager, Matt Underwood to Dhaka in Bangladesh and Kolkata in India. Appointments were booked with Jute factories and government bodies in both regions. Jute is a vegetable fibre, mostly grown in tropical countries such as Bangladesh and India. Most Jute comes from the bark of the White Jute plant, with harvesting taking place once a year. Most Jute matting is made using a hessian scrim (woven central layer) with a layer of Jute fibres on either side which is needle punched, interlocking the fibres onto the scrim. Jute matting is used for weed and erosion control; the biodegradable matting acts as a layer of mulch providing weed suppression and moisture retention to enhance plant establishment whilst protecting the top layer of soil from erosion.

Australian standards for manufacturing and procurement of products can vary greatly from international standards. As part of our due diligence and corporate social responsibility, our visit to these manufacturers sought to ensure that Sure Gro Tree Max sources products from manufacturers that adhere to various quality management systems and treat their workers with dignity and respect. In our pursuit of importing quality materials and products, Sure Gro Tree Max investigated various new and different Jute suppliers to gain a deeper insight into the manufacturing standards between different Jute mills. During our factory visits, observations and notes were made taking into account such elements as working conditions, product quality, sustainability and general environmental factors such as recycling, power and water usage. We were also interested in how eager the factories were to work with us on some of our innovative ideas. In particular, one Bangladeshi Jute mill factory displayed impressive management systems and demonstrated numerous ways in which they are supporting an entire community of families. The Jute mill covered six acres of land incorporating 7 different factories, all undertaking separate product manufacturing from Jute sacks to our Jute matting products. The company employs approximately 7,000 people and supports an entire school of children and their families. The business has a strong environmental policy which includes a no-waste approach. Water used to wash the 13 of 43

NEIL TAYLOR SURE GRO TREE MAX AUSTRALIA Jute fibres is fully recycled and the property is water self-sufficient. Some of the electricity used to power the machines is generated through incinerating waste. The processes that the factory undertakes to make the Jute mat are far superior to others we observed. The factories were clean and well maintained, with high standards around employee safety. Regular recorded changing of needles, the inclusion of a heavier weight scrim and the use of a higher grade fibre were all important considerations to us when sourcing a quality mill. A stringent quality assurance program was another contributing factor that we observed. Our organisation is committed to ethical, sustainable and quality procurement of products to ensure the products will perform their desired task in preventing soil erosion and suppressing unwanted weeds whilst promoting the growth of plants. Sure Gro Tree Max continues to strive to work with all of its manufacturers and suppliers to ensure its products are of the highest quality and suitable for our unique Australian landscape and ecosystem.

Get the leading edge call...

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RANGE • VALUE • DIY • STRONG • SAFE • DURABLE • SHAPEABLE • BESPOKE • ELEGANT FormBoss® Steel Garden Edging can be supplied for most landscaping applications, select from a large range of gauges, finishes and profile heights. FormBoss® saves time and money with fast and easy installation. Create a garden that’s easy to maintain and adds lasting property value. Perfect for updating existing gardens or laying out the frame work for a new garden. Available Australia wide, see our website for a full list of local stockists and a gallery of completed projects to keep you informed and inspired!

FormBoss® is proudly handcrafted in Australia using BlueScope steel and is stronger than aluminium and traditional edging materials. The rolled top lip is exclusive to all FormBoss® edging, making it completely safe for children and pets.

Straight lines, flawless curves and intricate shapes with layered terracing can be created with ease! FormBoss® will not crack, split, rot, dint, burn or invite termites and is structurally guaranteed for a minimum of 10 years. Award winning FormBoss® is precision made and engineered to create virtually seamless lines and joins. Custom made designer edging, rings and raised garden beds make the perfect compliment for domestic and commercial projects of any size.

Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

CLIMATE Navigating the current landscape

Adapting to the changing circumstances of the current climate

Spending time outdoors has always been a great comfort in stressful and trying times. When you consider the current circumstance where much of the community is forced to spend more time at home, our gardens and green spaces provide much solace. It is not surprising that appreciation of great outdoor spaces is at an all-time high. Following droughts, bushfires and now coronavirus our community is yearning for a garden that is well-designed, waterefficient, functional and healthy! However, in response to the current situation, landscape designers and irrigation installers have had to alter the way they are delivering their services. ensuring that strict hygiene standards and social distancing measures are followed without sacrificing design and installation standards. We have great technologies available at our fingertips, but never more than now have circumstances encouraged us to utilise these technologies to their full limits. Phones and conferencing services have proven priceless for contactless consultations with clients; modern irrigation technologies allow for remote access and operation of water systems; working remotely has opened the doors to more flexible meetings and presentation opportunities. With the whole landscaping industry adapting and adopting these new processes and procedures, and finding just how effective they are to continue business as usual, it is likely that our fresh appreciation of modern technology will continue to be used beyond the current situation.


The landscaping industry is one that requires constant communication with clients. From the initial site assessment and consultation, to installation and ongoing maintenance, finding new methods to carry out business effectively while maintaining contact has been essential. To achieve this, service teams can perform private evaluations of a property or site before consulting with a client over the phone, via FaceTime, or through online platforms such as Zoom. By having access to virtual and remote meetings, social distancing measures are able to be properly enforced. Google Maps and Online Questionnaires have also proven to be priceless applications in the current environment for effective system design. With a client able to submit their water system requirements and current property information, an irrigation installer can gather important information for the design, supply, installation or maintenance of a system without the need for unnecessary contact. In addition to improved use of our phones and computers, there are also a myriad of priceless irrigation technologies on the market that are more useful now than ever before. 15 of 43

Sales Director of Smart Water, Gary Andrews, provides an insight on these: “There can be no compromise in our endeavour to construct great landscapes with truly water efficient irrigation systems. Competent design is supported by great products, professional installation, good management and regular maintenance. Today there are no excuses. We have available a full complement of Smart Technologies, to deliver best possible outcomes on each and every occasion. From drip irrigation to stream rotor sprinklers, and super smart control systems that are not only accessible on the internet, but connect to flow, rain and moisture sensors, and are interactive with weather forecasts in real time. In essence, there are no barriers to achieve water efficiency and great environmental outcomes.� Fortunately, while we live in a world of sudden unexpected circumstance, ever-improving technology allows our industry to carry on business as usual – providing the community with healthy, thriving landscapes to enjoy and escape to for years to come.



C ontact







C ontact Organic Crop Protectants

Nishiki Nursery is located in Monbulk, Victoria. Nishiki Nursery specialises in growing the best quality grafted maples, with the largest range of Japanese Maples available, Australia wide. We have maples in pot sizes from 25cm right upto 110L. We also grow trees and shrubs in pot sizes from 20cm to 40cm. We currently have a fleet of 5 trucks servicing our valued customers. We will continue to supply the highest quality and the largest range of trees.

Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020 ACER PALMATUM EMPEROR 1

Japanese maple: one of the most versatile

plants for use in the garden

Nishiki Nursery, founded in 2011, sits nestled in the rolling hills of Monbulk, a quiet town within the beautiful Dandenong ranges, Victoria. At Nishiki Nursery, we specialise in growing high quality grafted Japanese maples, with over 80 varieties of maples available all year round. We also offer an extensive range of high-quality trees, shrubs and bonsai, perfect for landscapers and the retail trade. Japanese maples (also known as Acer palmatum cultivars) are one of the most versatile plants for use in the garden. The plants are divided into three main groups; upright growing forms, which are perfect for medium to large gardens, weeping forms (known as dissectum varieties), which are suited to all garden aspects, including courtyards and patios. Finally dwarf palmatum varieties, which are suited to small gardens, ornate pots and bonsai.

with a few handfuls of dolomite lime, the same amount of dynamic lifter pellets or similar and plenty of mushroom compost. They are shallow rooted plants so plenty of mulch works best. Over time, some twigs and branches can fizzle out due to a lack of light and dense branching of the canopy - simply prune these off in winter each year. Winter is also the best time to prune your maples to whichever shape you desire, although I have found that pruning in summer also yields good results, so best not to overthink it. As for pest and diseases, they are quite resilient, with aphids in spring being the main issue and in most cases the plant will grow through these without an issue. If it’s a particularly bad season, you may want to spray with an aphicide or insecticide to protect the plant.

STEVEN BOEKEL NISHIKI NURSERY In my opinion, the most popular and best performing upright varieties would be Senkaki (also known as Sango kaku); with bright red stems throughout winter, Bloodgood with bright red to dark purple foliage from spring to summer and an improved form called Emperor 1 with very dark red foliage, that holds well even in a hot summer. These uprights grow roughly 5 metres tall in the first ten years. The best and most consistent dissectum variety is Inaba Shidare, a strong growing, mushroom shaped habit and red to dark purple foliage is a constant winner in the garden, reaching approximately 2 metres tall by 2 metres wide in 10 years.

Japanese maples can tolerate a wide range of positions in the garden, as well as different soil types. The spring foliage emerges soft and delicate, which tends to give them the appearance of being difficult to grow or needing more care than other plants, which is not the case. The key point for growing a Japanese maple well is a position that provides protection from strong winds and, if possible, morning sun is best - so ideally a south facing aspect will ensure the best results! In our experience of growing and propagating Japanese maples for over 15 years, they perform best when planted


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Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020


business AS USUAL

What a challenge we are all facing - but doesn’t it once again make us thankful we live in what truly is the lucky country!

We are doing what we can to keep the country working with operations at the Castlemaine Slate & Stone Quarry flowing along sweetly albeit under strict social distancing rules.

There is one narrow strip within the vein which is “pink” in colour. The rest of the vein is a consistent “Castlemaine Slate” colour of beige, browns, rusts and ochres. The pink vein is very rarely exposed, and that material is kept separate from the standard Castlemaine stone.


We are aiming at being in a great position to supply what is needed, when it’s needed, once things come back to some form of normality. We can also report that our international suppliers are all operating so supply of natural stone to the landscape and construction industries is for the moment secure.

To this day, the stone is still hand split and sorted into thickness variations of up to 10mm, meaning that the random paving is supplied in 10-20mm, 20-30mm 30-40mm thickness lots etc. The thickness selected is based on the application.

This iconic quarry was first mined in 1953 by Ray & Aileen Maltby. Crazy paving and dry-stone walling were the main products produced during these years and it wasn’t long before this unique granitic sandstone quickly became an icon of the Victorian stone industry. In those early years, the equipment comprised a pick and shovel, a bolster and mash hammer and an old frontend loader. Over the quarry’s first 40 odd years, an excavator and large tipper were added but it was still very much manual labour producing the stone.

There are now four different walling stone products, the various thickness random paving options plus selected stepping stones, garden rocks, feature landscape rocks and slabs available in this stone. This is done to enable a consistency of stone product throughout a project. Despite the additional equipment, production of Castlemaine Slate & Stone products remains a very “hands on” process. And you’d be amazed how quickly new “splitters” learn not to hit their fingers on a cold Castlemaine morning!! Whilst we are still delivering, demand is down in these uncertain times, so stock is accumulating.

The “vein” is a narrow strip only about 15m wide which falls deeper into the earth as it buries into the mountain making extraction a constant challenge. So, to aid this extraction, we invested in additional and larger excavators and other equipment when we took over the quarry in 2005. We now have a more consistent supply of raw material for the boys to work. 19 of 43

We are using our down time to revamp our displays in the Showroom with the addition of 6 stunning new limestones and a couple of new wall claddings while on lock down. Now that restrictions have been lifted somewhat, it would be a great time to come in and have a look. In the meantime- from all at Yarrabee & Castlemaine Stone Solutions- hang in there, play by the rules and stay well!!

Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

Melissa Bell (Diploma of Landscape Design) – Third place in the Avenue of Achievable Gardens – 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

apprenticeships Landscape construction apprenticeships can add value in any environment

Recently, as international travel restrictions have kept us at home, there has also been renewed interest in urban and commercial landscapes. Whatever the future holds, the sector will have an important role to play – and it will need innovative and skilled landscape workers. Why horticulture and environment apprenticeships are important Central to future success will be Australia’s TAFE system and its ability to train, upskill and reskill the next generation of landscape workers. Apprenticeships, in particular, will be vital because they link training with on-the-job learning and future career opportunities in industry. Holmesglen’s horticulture and environment courses span areas including landscape construction and design, parks and gardens and sports turf management. Apprentices of all ages learn about site assessments, design, plants, trees, providing advice, proposals, budgets and constructing landscapes.

Established in 1982 One of the largest TAFE providers in Victoria Recognised for horticulture and environment training Courses in landscape construction and design at Glen Waverley campus

As Australia adjusts to major social and economic changes, landscape gardeners will be ready to grasp any emerging opportunities. Landscape gardening, greenkeeping and nursery work have been popular over the past few years. The government’s, which uses 2016 census data to spot long term trends, forecasts future growth for all three occupations.


Offers apprenticeships and non-apprenticeships “It’s so important to nurture and encourage the next generation of landscapers to be the best they can be. Every business relies on the staff who work for them. Apprentices become the next business owners and in turn grow the landscape industry,” says Holmesglen’s Apprentice Support Officer, Robert Stewart.

How innovation and sustainability are giving new apprentices an edge

How an apprenticeship can help you to grow in a new direction

As the coronavirus pandemic affects the property and construction sectors, apprentices will be able to draw on their classroom and practical training to innovate and add value. Charles works on hardscapes, pools, and front and backyards across different residential settings. He sees the value this work can add to people and places.

Charles Kautoke is completing the AHC30916 Certificate III in Landscape Construction apprenticeship at Holmesglen. Describing his landscape construction journey as a “coming of age”, Charles made a career change from hospitality and communications.

“When you own a house, you want your garden and backyard, or pool, to look great – there is definitely a trend in that aspect. Especially when you see other people doing it. I think there are a lot more options now for those little extras that people can add to their homes.”

“Working outdoors is something I really enjoy. You work at different places and on different jobs, it’s something new with every job,” he says.

On-campus training complements on-thejob work by giving apprentices knowledge of site planning, using different materials and health and safety processes. This also leads to a continued focus on sustainability, and its benefits to society.

The Holmesglen Certificate III gives learners skills that include how to build brick, concrete and stone structures, install drainage systems, and construct soil profiles. With training pathway options in horticulture and landscape design, Charles feels a landscape construction apprenticeship and on-the-job training go “hand-in-hand.” 20 of 52

“Especially when it comes to water management, you’re always trying find ways to reduce waste and trying to recycle. We always try to find new materials that are recyclable or from recycled elements. There is definitely a place for sustainability in the work we do.”

Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

Katie Westle (Diploma of Landscape Design) – First place in the Avenue of Achievable Gardens – 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

"It's important to nurture and encourage the next generation of landscapers to be the best they can be." - Robert Stewart, Holmesglen Apprentice Support Officer.


Alex Koskinitos ((Diploma of Landscape Design), People’s Choice Award – 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

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GROWING TOGETHER in a changed environment

Our community may resemble small independent hubs of marketplace activity, but essentially, we are trading in the same space, connected globally by technology, transport systems, flight paths, electricity grids, WIFI, NBN. Something to come from this crisis is the overriding notion that we are not separate towns, villages or communities but one world. One human race, with a natural connection to the environment. We are not immune to pandemic, and we will struggle to contain viral invasion, but we now understand more acutely how quickly a crack in the surface can widen and spread with the blink of an eye, a 24-hour plane flight, a 3-hour train trip or a 15-minute catch-up. These networks have brought us together in a way we could not imagine three months ago. Under this pandemic, we have been forced to unite. While there are some regions with internal divisions, the crisis has shown that it is possible for political parties to work together. Australia and New Zealand are leading the way. We can take from this crisis that we are equipped to address climate change and community health needs if we have the unified resolve to do so.

With co-operation comes genuine transparency. Supporting businesses that can adapt to a new business landscape with product that is grown sustainably and ethically is reassuring. Buying ‘bio-secure’ product takes on a deeper meaning. Consciously, maybe more unconsciously, we have stripped things back to basics. We seek accountability; to support people and businesses that are doing the right thing. As a large percentage of us apply hand sanitiser for the fifth time today and type from a home office, others remain in operations adjusted to physical distancing, and we must acknowledge that biosecurity has a heightened relevance and understanding to our world and industry. As growers, designers and installers of living things, we must concede that our operations can be and are vulnerable to threats from weeds, pest and disease. The link to good hygiene, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices and quarantine systems is somehow more important, as we balance renewed ideals around green space, health, sustainability, personal freedoms and connectivity with being operational as businesses in the long-term.

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There are systems that support the future of the industry, as seen through accreditation and biosecurity measures for agriculture and horticulture. These affect you and I, the security of our food supply, ecosystem diversity and with reducing our carbon footprint. Responding to both bushfire and now COVID-19 will require re-building resilient, sustainably productive and greenconnected communities able to meet our physical and psychological needs. Our industry administered accreditations, while not compulsory, are useful when assessing nurseries for best practice, environmental and biosecurity credentials and those trying to do things better. Biosecurity matters. In 2010 Myrtle Rust was found in Australia, enacting national restrictions and quarantine laws to eradicate it. That same year, it was deemed not technically feasible to do so and we transitioned to a position of managing it as it naturalised across the country.

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"We can take from this crisis that we are equipped to address climate change and community health needs if we have the unified resolve to do so."

The species-threatening potential of Myrtle Rust is not dissimilar to COVID-19, and its significance may not have been as mediaworthy, but its threat to the survival of our most iconic trees and shrubs is very real. And it is not contained. Over time, it will change our Australian landscape. Accountability is also reflected in quality. Businesses can sometimes deviate too much and respond so quickly to change, that quality is often compromised. In the production nursery, the risk of growing different stock and higher volumes based on expected demand is carried entirely by the grower, for anywhere up to 5 years. The window for that sale can be as small as three months and usually not more than six months. The temptation in a crisis is to trade quality for the transaction. But quality is tangible and can be proven. In root systems, in the visual health of the tree, the way it has been formatively pruned, the presence of a single leader, in

height to root ratios and via testing procedures under Australian Standard AS2303-18 and audited best practice processes via accreditation. We urge the Green Industry not to compromise on quality. Quality nursery stock is available. As members of LVML you understand what goes into producing a quality product, and the planning, designing, supplying, installing and maintenance of quality projects. Work with your supplier to achieve better outcomes, together. Doing all these things well is fundamental to our whole industry. Political lobbying at state and national levels about the value of green life is compromised if we as an industry care little for the value of the product and services we provide. We hold great value in quality and accreditation. We plan to be here in the longterm and we want all of you to be there with us, achieving great things together.

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Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020 CHART OF ACCOUNTS "the books"






(things owned)

(things owed)

(business worth)

(money in)

(money out)



futureproofing your business Every business is vulnerable to threats like being out bid on jobs and project blow outs. Recently though we’ve experienced global threats that not many would have predicted nor made allowance for. So how do we insulate our businesses against normal business pressures but also cushion the blows from unexpected or catastrophic events? Know your numbers & get the right help

Visualise Your Future

No, you didn’t go into business to be an accountant but if you don’t know your numbers you do not have control of your business. Seek out a trusted advisor and start by asking them to explain the chart of accounts (pictured above) and the two most important financial reports; the profit & loss statement and the balance sheet.

Once you’ve secured your cash flow it’s time to visualise a new future. Download your profit and loss report to excel or paper and imagine what the next twelve months might look like.

Get the right tools & keep accurate numbers Every successful business has systematic processes to drive results. Your financial processes need to be accurate, consistent and have a regular rhythm. Make the investment in software you can access from anywhere, in other words, get online. If ever there was an event that highlights the importance of being online, it is the current global pandemic. Improve cash flow Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business, ensure it does not dry up by • Focusing on client relationships and quality • Having short clearly communicated invoicing terms • Being consistent in following up outstanding invoices • Monitoring your exposure to individual clients • Paying bills only when they are due but never being late • Building relationships with your suppliers

Consider your • Sales commitments • Cost of sale commitments - what will it cost to fulfill those sales? • Fixed costs - what are the costs that you can’t change, like rent and credit repayments?

COLLEEN STROMEI DIRECTOR, ADDFLOW Addflow is a BAS and financial advisory service and while bookkeeping is integral to what we do, acting as a trusted advisor requires so much more than that. We have a commitment to keeping audit proof accounts, staying abreast of legislative changes and always providing collaborative client service. Addflow provide BAS services, Xero training and process reviews to many different industry sectors and have been the Financial Manager for Landscaping Victoria for nearly fifteen years.

Now picture what you want for the next twelve months? • What are your sales opportunities? Can you offer anything different? How often do you want to make each type of sale? • What cost of sale expenses will have to increase? Do you need more staff (don’t forget to add hidden costs like Workcover increases)? How much will your materials increase by? • Will this have any effect on your fixed costs? Will you need bigger premises? Will you need additional equipment?

Playing with your numbers will help you clarify your ideas and problem solve issues but if you need it, your financial advisor can provide invaluable support in this process.

Then include a worst-case scenario

Good forecasting also allows for quick revisions. If your business is hit by another catastrophic event you won’t be caught on the back foot. You’ve already considered your worst-case scenario, review your plan again, make the hard decisions to minimise disruption and then plan for how you’ll bounce back.

• What happens if the sales don’t come through or costs blow out by thirty percent? • How quickly can you pull back on your expenses? • What would it cost to obtain additional funding? 25 of 43

Revising the plan Good forecasting always includes a reality check. Review your plan against your actual performance on a regular basis, understand any variances and if required take remedial action.

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Walt Collins is a TV host across several Channel 10 series, including the hit show Buy to Build and the long running Healthy Homes Australia series. He has also has a carpentry trade background. Walt and two mates set up this initiative.

Don't throw away your work boots donate them to Boots for Tradies! I think working in a trade like Landscaping or Building, we are under increasing pressure ethically as well as financially, to be more efficient with our materials, our budget and our wastage. In fact, at trade-school these days, there is a whole module dedicated to reducing your wastage in business and this most certainly applies to materials, but how do we apply this to other areas of our business? Earlier this year I was having Friday knock off drinks with a few guys from our carpentry company and we were having a bit of a chat about what we throw out on a regular basis. Immediately one of the big standouts were our work boots. Let’s say all 12 chippies in our business threw away our boots twice a year... it really adds up. And in some cases, those boots really have a lot more life in them, given we need nice new ones for client and quoting purposes. We had a bit of a hunt around to see if there was a charity that took boots as a donation and really, there wasn’t a lot around – certainly not in Melbourne. So as often happens with a good yarn and a site shed full of ideas people, we thought what if we took those donated boots, spruced them up a bit with new laces, soles and a clean and then sold them via an

online store. That way we could donate the money, which is more useful, to the charities in need. I contacted the blokes at an organisation called This is a Conversation Starter Foundation (TIACSF). This is a brand-new initiative which I think is one of the best around. They are aiming to reduce suicide and harm in tradies and construction workers, because we are highly overrepresented in Australia. It’s a simple idea, there is an SMS number that someone who is in crisis, or someone who is witnessing a decline in a mate’s mental health can message and it starts an immediate conversation with a crisis trained psychologist. Not a call centre counsellor, but a real psychologist. This is going to save lives. But of course, the crisis psychologists need paying for even though they kindly only charge a minimal amount, so we are donating a large percentage of our income to them to help pay for the service. After just two weeks of starting Boots for Tradies, we sold 19 pairs of used boots to people all over Australia. It is just a knockout success, but we can’t keep up with the demand for boots. The sorts of people buying our 27 of 43

boots really does vary. We’re finding young apprentices who can’t afford $220+ for a new pair, are buying boots sometimes only worn a couple of times, for under $90. It’s a huge saving for them. We’re also finding that a lot of engineers and foremen are buying boots from us because they already have a few war wounds! Nobody wants to be that person rocking up to a work site with new boot syndrome! It’s a win-win scenario. So, I think there are a few take-home messages if you’re reading this article. Yes, we’d love your boots. It doesn’t matter how worn they are, we can sell as is or use bits and pieces from them and we’ll do the clean-up. Just put them in a bag and get in touch. But if you’re talking to your apprentices and staff, mention there are options to buy boots cheaper from us. But importantly, check in on them. Just a friendly no fuss, ‘how’s things mate, you’re doing ok and everything in check’ conversation can have a profound effect. And if you think there’s something deeper going on, let them know about TIACSF. You could be saving a life. You can donate your boots through our Instagram, Facebook and website.

Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

There's never been a better time

to join

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR END OF FINANCIAL YEAR MEMBERSHIP OFFER Receive up to two months membership at no charge AND have your application fee reimbursed. Offer ends 30th June 2020




Support - you don't need it until you do.

Even in these days of social distancing, LVML is bringing our members together.

Our mantra is Quality, Pride and Professionalism.

LVML are here for our members, big and small. Through our network of respected industry partners, LVML can provide guidance on: • • • • • • •

HR, WHS and Industrial Relations matters Domestic Building Contracts Legal Matters Insurance Matters Professional Development Registered Builder Practitioner Training Marketing Services

Our face-to-face training and networking events are now being held online allowing our members to continue learning and making new connections with like-minded industry professionals.

Membership with LVML provides a tick of approval for clients and it's the point of difference that makes our members highly sought after. LVML promote our members through multiple channels including our online member directory, social media and print & digital publications. LVML also has a presence at large public events like the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and The Backyard and Garden Show and SPASA Pool and Spa Expo. When these events are back up and running, we will be there to spruik the services of our members!

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MITCHELL ZADOW Managing Principal & Accredited Commercial Law Specialist | 03 8561 3318

what do I need to consider? I have a contract that I will not be able to fulfil? What can I do? Speak to the other party! The effects of the coronavirus are economy-wide, and every business will need to make adjustments. Often commercial, rather than legal, solutions will be the most effective. If the other party is not receptive to your concerns, the starting point at common law is that parties are absolutely liable to perform their contractual obligations, unless the doctrine of frustration can be invoked to terminate the contract. The doctrine of frustration only applies if: • Neither party is at fault for the failure to perform the contract; and • Complying with the contract has become “radically different” to what the parties envisaged when they entered into the contract. Delay or increased costs due to supply shortages will not normally frustrate a contract, as such events are reasonably foreseeable. That said, the current situation (if extended long enough) may make the contract practically impossible to perform and may allow a party to terminate the contract on the basis of frustration. At common law, termination only applies prospectively – that is the contract is terminated from the time of the frustrating event.

Any moneys owed and/or paid prior to termination (including deposits) would remain payable/be able to be retained if already paid. The provisions of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 modify this situation to some degree, and allow the courts or VCAT to make adjustments to amounts paid and payable, both before and after termination to take into account a number of matters, including works already performed and value already provided. What is a force majeure clause and how can they potentially operate in circumstances such as the spread of COVID-19? The common law position regarding contracts and the doctrine of frustration can be overridden by the parties by the terms of their contract. The parties need to look to see if there is a “force majeure” clause. Such a clause, if present, will usually expressly provide for what happens if a contract is affected by events such as disease, government intervention, etc. You should check your existing contracts to see if a force majeure clause covers the present situation caused by the coronavirus. While it is too late for existing contracts, where you are entering into new contracts, we recommend addressing what happens in the event that your business is unable to fulfil the contract for reasons arising from the coronavirus. 29 of 43

ANDRE ONG Principal & Accredited Property Law Specialist | 03 8561 3317

How can Sharrock Pitman Legal assist? There are many other questions that businesses will have in the days and weeks ahead. If you would like further information on the matters in this article or on any other commercial matter, please do not hesitate to contact us on 1300 205 506 or visit for further information and updates in relation to coronavirus. The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Any legal matters should be discussed specifically with one of our lawyers. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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AutomatiNG your business

Business automation is creating greater efficiency, saving time and money, and allowing the transferral and reporting of information to be more accurate. Let’s have a look at some of the areas where you could be utilising business automation via simple software/app technologies. Scheduling Most of us are probably utilising our computer calendars (Apple or Windows) every day to book business meetings. It was not that long ago when we were using a paper diary. I remember when I made the transferral from a paper diary to my Windows diary. It took me about 3 months before I could throw away my paper diary. Then I had my IT guy link my Outlook diary to my phone and scheduling appointments could be done while I was waiting for a coffee. Scheduling projects can also be done via an Apple or Windows calendar. Creating a separate Calendar for projects is an easy process but there are many apps for quoting and project management that have a scheduling function for projects. Quoting (Landscape Construction and Maintenance) There are endless quoting software systems for the landscape and nursery industries. It is important to be aware of what you want your software to achieve. When quoting a landscape construction job, some of the functions you may need are: uploading material lists easily, entering employees hourly rates, entering client details, entering labour and material costs for each component in the scope of works (not just the charge out sums), scheduling, tracking a job, a project management function, calculating take-offs, an impressive presentation document to send to clients.

When quoting a landscape maintenance job, some of the functions needed will be simpler, but still the basics are important like: material lists, employees’ hourly rates, client details, scheduling, and a simple project management function. Some quoting systems also allow detailed Job Sheets to be created per client with costs per ml pre-programmed and notes and pictures taken on site uploaded. Some compatibility with your Accounting software is an advantage. My research has discovered that many good quoting systems exist for the Landscape industry. Some examples are: Aroflo, Buildxact, and LMN. My suggestion is to trial any system first. Another system that will be released later this year is called Gauge. This would be one to look out for. Accounting Software Managing business finances via Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks (just to name a few) is essential. We all need to be able to view the accounts payable and receivables, P&L (expenses, sales and profit) each month with the click of a button. A few years ago, I started using Receipt-bank and Xero to upload all my bookkeeping data each month. It was quick, easy and allowed my bookkeeper to work remotely on my account. It also saved my company money because all the information was digitally ready for the bookkeeper to create quarterly BAS documents and reconcile everything from her office. Sharing Information Google Drive is free to use and can be used to share spreadsheets or documents with other people and view them at the same time. Zoom and Skype are free platforms that offer video conferencing calls and share information. Dropbox and WeTransfer are great for transferring large files like designs, multiple pics and videos. 31 of 43


Social Media Facebook own Instagram, so they can be linked and when you post on Instagram, the post will also appear on Facebook. Software like Hootsuite can manage multiple social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc., from just one dashboard. Email Marketing Mailchimp is a free email newsletter platform. You can upload your client database and send an appealing newsletter to offer tips, products, specials or content that could interest your client, future clients and alliances. There are many email marketing software systems that have more functions, or you can have your website developer add an email marketing function to your website. Project Management There are many Project Management apps available. Some are simple, some offer more functions, and some are easier to use. A good Project Management app allows you to schedule work, assign future work to a crew, dissect the scope of works, track the results, upload pictures and add a GPS locator. Monday and Asana are two examples. When you are interested in finding software for your business, asking a friend or peer what they use and like can be very helpful. Most software apps offer a trial period, which you should take up in order to explore what’s on offer. As the months and years progress, more software with better functionality will continue to appear. Automation is making our business life much easier and allowing us to share information faster and more accurately, track results and run a more efficient and profitable business.

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Podcasts have been around since 2004 and have continued to grow in popularity, really starting to ramp up in the last 5 or so years. At the end of 2018 there were 550,000 podcasts to choose from, and by the end of 2019, that number was 750,000. That’s 750,000 different podcasters, some with hundreds of podcasts. There are A LOT of choices, and a podcast for just about anything you can think of, including landscaping! Frustratingly for a lot of podcasts, there’s no regular intervals between the release of each episode, sometimes they’re weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes there can be months between, and that’s just from the one podcast! This is possibly due to the fact that there’s not a lot of money to be made from Podcasting. It’s more something people do to elevate their own personal profile/brand, or to elevate the industry. And any business or money that comes from it, is a bonus. I first started listening to podcasts about 4 years ago, before any landscaping podcasts (that I was aware of) were being recorded by Australian businesses. The first podcast I listened to was by Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur from the USA who’s known for his exceptional work ethic and marketing abilities. I listened to it daily while driving around in my ute, and eventually knew what he was going to say, such was the strength and repetitiveness of his message about business. The first Landscape podcast I became aware of was published at the end of 2017 by Shah Turner of Pitch Box and it was called The Green Room Podcast. It was marketed as a “business podcast exclusively for residential landscape designers and contractors”, with the first interview being with Chris Weiss from Formation Landscapes. The Green Room episodes were quite short, around 20 minutes each, and included interviews with John Corban from the Landscapers Coach, Joseph Nagel from Definition Landscape, Ineke Clark formerly of Master Landscapers of SA and also an interview with myself. This podcast appears to be finished for now with the last podcast being recorded in January 2019, but it’s still available to listen to and being short chats, it is a good introduction to podcasts with just 10 episodes in the series.

In March of 2018, The Full Landscape, a podcast for our industry had its first episode published. This podcast is created by Clint Adams who owns Waterpro, an irrigation shop in Adelaide. He sits down with someone within the greater landscaping/horticulture industry and discusses how they got where they are and how they do things in their business. The podcasts are also filmed and put on their YouTube channel, along with other Waterpro videos, more to do with irrigation. Some of the guests on The Full Landscape have been Mitch Davies from Sand and Stone Landscaping, Josh Hooper from Landscape Techniques, Tim Harper from Space Capsule Garden Co, Matt Nash from Prestige Surfaces, as well as some big names in the horticulture industry such as Carl Heyne from Heyne’s wholesale Nursery and Matt Van Schaik from Bio Gro. There are currently 33 episodes of The Full Landscape, with the most recent one being published on the 11th of March. Episode length varies from 40-90 minutes. With perfect timing, when The Green Room podcast finished making new episodes, yet another podcast for the industry came along with the Plants ‘n Sh*t podcast by Tim Harper and Stephen Read. Tim owns Space Capsule Garden Design and Stephen owns Stephen Read Landscape Design. Their podcast mission is that it’s a podcast “by creatives, for creatives” and they speak with not only landscape designers, but also other artists and business owners. This podcast is a little less industry based, but well worth a listen. They’ve spoken with Steven Wells and the most recent episode with Brent Reid from Candeo Design was a great listen, discussing the Covid-19 impact on the industry and the cancellation of MIFGS. The episodes are 33 of 43


around 30-60 minutes and there are currently 13 episodes with the most recent being published on the 3rd of April. This podcast is not currently available on iTunes but can be found on PodBean. All other podcasts mentioned in this article can be found on iTunes. The newest landscaping podcast I’ve discovered only had its first episode published on the 12th of March and is the first landscaping one I’ve listened to from the USA, but the similarities in the message these guys are pushing is exactly the same as Landscaping Victoria Master Landscapers. It’s called the Landscapes and Pancakes podcast and is made by a husband and wife team, Neil and Samantha Best, who also run Magma Design Group in Massachusetts. One of their common phrases is “Elevate the Industry” and they refer to using licenced designers and contractors, and the importance of getting a landscape designer involved early in the building process. Their first episode was with a natural stone supplier, the second was with a high-end garden maintenance person and the most recent episode was with Sara Bendrick, a Designer/Builder/TV personality. They’ve got plenty of guests lined up for the coming months so this is definitely one to subscribe to. The three episodes have been spaced about 10 days apart and are just over an hour in duration. As I mentioned, there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts to choose from, and probably more than 100 current and noncurrent landscaping related ones, however the ones above are the best I’ve listened to. If you like listening to people talk about landscaping/ business, give one of these podcasts a try.

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social media in changed times

Read any social commentary today and the talk is generally about how COVID-19 will change our way of living. Not just during this period of restriction, but how we will inevitably take what we are practicing now into the future.

Recently, Facebook and Instagram have seen a 40% increase in usage. People are glued to their devices for the latest news and for some, to fill their days. You have a captive audience so now is the time to be communicating. It isn't business as usual, nor will it be for quite some time. Shift your content Rather than promoting big landscapes, focus on the little projects that people can digest in bite size chunks. Consumer confidence is at an all-time low. Sell them that veggie garden, that small paving job, the new fire pit. Don't overwhelm them. One of the takeaways from this situation is that our homes are our sanctuaries. Many people who might otherwise have travelled are not going to be taking those overseas holidays for some time and will likely be spending Summer at home. Create the vision of what that could be like for them. Contact past clients to ask if you could have a photo series taken of them in their amazing garden. Tell the story of how much enjoyment they receive from their outdoor kitchen. Show them using it. Landscapes are meant to be lived in. Too often we show them devoid of noisy families or of an older couple just sitting

JO REID LANDSCAPING VICTORIA MASTER LANDSCAPERS in peace. Plant that seed, so to speak, as this is perfect visual content. Again, focus on the smaller elements of a landscaping project so as not to overwhelm. Telling a story is the best way to have potential customers want a piece of the dream you can create for them, without making your posts an overt sales pitch. The best type of marketing is the type where people don’t realise they are being marketed to. In all of this, remember to show empathy. Many people are no longer working and for some their jobs may not be there for them on the other side of this. Every now and then, acknowledge that not everyone is able to commit to big purchases right now but maybe one day when they are, they might consider your product or service? Acknowledge that things aren't normal This can be as simple as noting that it is a little weird to be promoting your business now but that you are doing so because you have employees that you want to keep employed. This isn’t something that you need to mention in every post, but it is important to build that human element into your content every so often.

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Provide value and information in your posts People have the time to be reading and watching. If you have an article that is relevant to your business, link to it. If you have time in your business, create some videos to post to social media. Make them educational. This positions you as an expert in your field if you share your knowledge. In times like these, people will look to the experts. Take these few small tips with you into the coming months. Modify your content. Tell the story. Acknowledge what’s happening. And remember that the LV Office is here to support you so feel free to call and ask Jo about any of your social media or marketing questions, or send an email to

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Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

Getting back to

business Seize this HR opportunity

From a Human Resource perspective, the recent shut down has taught us the importance of being prepared and protected for the unexpected. As we prepare to get back to business, a great opportunity exists for businesses to make changes now to ensure protection and remain a step ahead, through HR compliance and best practice processes. Your people are your greatest asset, especially in a time when you need them to double down, think outside the square, remain flexible and profitable all at the same time. Now is a great time to consider introducing changes, as we all get back to business.

At a minimum, you should consider: Employment Contacts It is critical your employees and contractors have been issued with current, written and legally compliant contracts. This not only provides transparency for both you and your employees around the terms and conditions associated with their employment, employment contracts also protect the company both from a financial and legal perspective and will make it easier to manage employee issues in the future. Well written Employment Contracts can also assist with driving productivity and cost efficiency.

Human Resource Policies HR policies provide generalised guidance on the approach adopted by the organisation, concerning various aspects of employment. Well-documented policies and procedures help staff to understand how an organisation works and is managed. HR policies are important not only to meet Fair Work compliance requirements, but also assist with basic day to day management of the company. Having strong and well communicated HR policies and procedures is critical to maintaining consistent standards and protecting your business. In particular, consider HR policies around Alcohol and Drugs, Use of Social Media, Managing Performance, Issue Management Resolution and Managing Leave as these are areas often causing frustration within the workplace. HR Forms and Letters Compliant pro-forma HR forms and letter templates should be kept on file to meet compliance, and basic day to day management requirements of the company. Examples include a Written Warning template, a Termination Letter template, Confidentiality Agreement, Record of a Meeting template, Agreement to Vary Work Hours, and Probation Review template. Well written HR documentation can also give you confidence when making difficult employee decisions. 3 7 of 43


Position Descriptions and Performance Feedback Processes Reviewing individual performance is critical in providing employees with feedback and ensuring transparency around expected performance. We recommend regular performance reviews based on key role requirements. Now is the time to set performance objectives for your employees, and to put in place a process for managing this. Seize this time for change!! There is no greater opportunity to implement changes to your business than right now. This is especially true for re-setting expectations of your greatest asset – your employees. Need help getting started? Our HR Essentials Packs provide a range of compliant and best practice HR documents required to manage your business including templates of Employment Contracts, HR Policies and HR Forms and Letters. Follow the link If you require assistance in determining which documents are relevant to your circumstances, please contact Adam Clark on 1300 123 081 or

REACH AUSTRALIA’S LARGEST NETWORK OF PUBLIC SPACE PROJECT MANAGERS, CONTRACTORS AND DEVELOPERS Did you know the ODS network can help your business reach over 1500 people working in 347 different councils and local government nationally? In fact, our public space specifier network reaches the decision makers that look after more than 77% of the Australian population – and their public space projects! If your business would benefit from reaching an audience that specifies millions of dollars’ worth of commercial and civil projects every year, then Outdoor Design Source is your network.

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Ea r t hs t y l e Au t u m n / Wi nter 2020

collaborative groups produce greater results


Scott Morrison has been known to use the “at least six months” line. But what happens in month seven? It is what we do now that will dictate how that seventh month will look. The phones have gone a little quiet, this is true. Most of us have a future workload in place so as not to be causing too much concern yet. However, not many of us are lucky enough to have more than six months of work contracted and ready to go. So, what can be done? This week I have signed up two new clients for design work. People are wanting to achieve the gardens they have imagined. So, there are people out there still wanting to develop their dreams. A little bit of trivia for you - The Lochs (lakes to English folk) I visited growing up in Scotland, all travel to the sea. And they all start way up in the hills as tiny streams or ‘burn’ as we call them. Tiny streams gather a flow, become rivers and culminate as lochs. No tiny flow, no loch!

Clients tend to incline towards a more conservative approach in these times. Explaining to a client that installing a pool, spa, pergola and landscaping will cost them around $200k plus, may be too confronting to contemplate. However, if you start as a ‘stream’ it is much easier for the client to digest. What might that stream look like? The initial consultation with our clients is about creating a flow to their future. People tend to be OK with the idea of paying for a design as it is still a little non-committal to the construction phase, which can be daunting. The initial consultation is about directing a way for the stream to flow. The actual designing phase is about creating a river, which has a stronger flow than a stream. Once at the end of a concept design, the client begins asking about construction and the flow opens. As designers, we work for months with clients to help articulate their requirements and then shape a landscape that fulfils their needs from both pragmatic and aesthetic aspirations.

This time is where the tiny stream gathers and becomes a tributary to a much larger river. The flow now gains momentum and is harder to stop. By aligning to designers, where these tiny streams begin to flow, the streams become the swimming pool, the pergola, the deck, the garden and so on. Until it becomes the construction project. Collaborative groups produce greater results. If we all work together to create ‘flows’ they will gather strength and when that seventh month does appear, the tributaries are flowing and the work is there! If we can ignite our potential clients dreams by pointing them to a designer to begin the ‘planning step’, then some will extend an unsteady hand and be willing to be guided along a journey to commence their dream landscape project. Let’s ignite the passions of people and remind them to dream!


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# in this together

Like every other business operating through this crisis, Landscaping Victoria Master Landscapers has been forced to change the way we operate and, boy, have we taken to Zoom like ducks to water! Our “Members Virtual Beer Garden” has been well received and we have held open sessions, as well as targeted sessions for each category of membership. In these Zoom meetings it was fantastic to see members catch up with old friends and re-connect, or meet for the first time and create an opportunity to make new connections within the industry.


The Beer Garden quickly become an important tool allowing us to connect with Members and keep an ear on what the general feeling was like in the marketplace, adapting any strategies to suit. We even held our Special Resolution Meeting to pass the new Constitution on Zoom. Show of hands please!

Continuing with our new thirst for virtual events, on May 27th we will open the doors to The Virtual Landscape Show, an adaptation of our trade event that was planned for the same date.

"We greatly appreciate the digital opportunities being offered. It's such a great way for members to connect, promote their services and support one another – well done to you all!"

"I think it's a great initiative in adapting the way we do things and still keeping the industry connected." - Ashley Morling - Reece

- Emma Davies - Bucket Barrow

By moving the show from face-to-face to cyberspace and still connecting landscape professionals with great offers from our exhibitors, we are delivering the landscaping industry’s very own stimulus package! Make sure you log in on the day as there are great savings, discounts, and giveaways on offer.

#LIFEINLOCKDOWN And how have the LVHQ team been dealing with all the fun and games of Life In Lockdown at the moment? Vic - A few years back I bought a stack of old kimono fabric from a market in Japan with every intention of using it to make a quilt. After sitting in storage for years and years I finally started it! Megan – I’ve been on more dog walks and doing more steps than I have in years. The bonus was finding a tree full of feijoas that no-one else had ‘harvested’, so I not only rediscovered this fabulous fruit, but I also got back into baking. The extra steps are needed now more than ever!!

Colleen – I’ve been composting worms for years but with three of us working from home now the worms are thriving on the additional kitchen scraps. Jo – I’ve had more time for my study and to catch up on reading and Netflix.

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Here’s how we help: • Delivery direct to site • Dedicated Landscape Trade Specialists • Quality materials in the quantity you need LEARN MORE




tel 0417 115 758 email

fax 0359 713 069 91 Lower Somerville Road, Baxter 3911

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If you are an LVML Member and would like to advertise in our next Spring/Summer Edition Please email

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# in this together

page 41

Collaborative groups produce greater results

page 39

Getting back to business: seize this HR opportunity

page 37

Social media in changed times

page 35


page 33

Automating your business

page 31

Commercial contracts: what do I need to consider?

page 29

There's never been a better time to join

page 28

Don't throw away your work boots - donate them to Boots for Tradies!

page 27

Futureproofing your business

page 25

Growing together in a changed environment

pages 22-23

Landscape construction apprenticeships can add value in any environment

pages 20-21

Nearly business as usual

page 19

Japanese maple: one of the most versatile plants for use in the garden

page 17

Navigating the current landscape

page 15

Corporate Social Responsibility & Ethical Sourcing GLOBAL FOCUS

page 13

Insurance: Contract works and liability insurance: what builders and tradespeople need to know during COVID-19 restrictions

page 11

Consistency in a time of change

page 9

The seeds of opportunity

pages 6-7

From our executive officer

page 5

From our president

page 3
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