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2022 - A Year Of Challenges And Innovation For The Landscape Industry

13/12/2022 - News

Wow, What a year it’s been for the Arbour Landscape Solutions team and for the landscape industry as a whole.  

Garden Designers and Landscapers began the year with an unprecedented number of enquiries from homeowners around the UK.  Covid 19 and the lockdowns that went with it was still having a profound effect on the way people valued their outdoor spaces. 

More and more people were relaxing and socialising at home rather than going out. Working at home became the norm too. When your garden is the only place you can go to see the sky and feel the sun on the back of your neck, it takes on a whole new dimension. Especially if you’ve also invested in a lockdown puppy who needs somewhere safe to play!

Covid was (and still is) an awful illness. When faced with that kind of threat, folks feel the need to immerse themselves in nature.  Throw bereavement, anger and grief into the mix and gardens become a place of solace and contemplation.  Little wonder that so many people wanted to make their garden as good as it possibly could be.

What a contrast to the end of the year, when an unsettled economy has resulted in a certain amount of nervousness about investing in gardens. Several of my friends and clients have reported a downturn in enquiries and most landscapers are reviewing their overheads and looking for better ways to market their services. But, I’ve worked in this industry for a long time and I’m confident that by working together, things can only get better.

outdoor cooking area by Grow Gardens

beautiful Mediteranean style patio by Anna Heaps Gardens

Just two of the beautiful gardens created by Arbour Landscape Solutions Customers in 2022.
L: Outdoor kitchen area by Grow Gardens.    R: Mediterranean style terrace by Anna Helps Gardens

Materials Prices and Availability 

The global pandemic unfortunately had a knock on effect on the prices and availability of some landscaping materials.  Quarries had been shut through the worst of the Covid crisis and sadly some of the workforce was lost. This led to a backlog of orders and meant that here in the UK we had to adjust to the fact that lead times were longer than we’d been used to. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also affected materials price and availability. Particularly porcelain paving. Much of the world’s porcelain paving starts with clay mined in the Ukraine, which is then fired in kilns. The price of fuel for the kilns has been affected in the same way as fuel for our cars and electricity for our homes and of course, this has impacted on the price of paving. 

Of course the cost of materials is passed on to the end user, but many of my landscaper friends have been reluctant to add to the value of their quotations, and have instead absorbed price rises to the detriment of their own profit margins.

Coping With The Rising Cost Of Materials

How has Arbour Landscape Solutions mitigated price rises?  Well, we’ve done as much as we can to absorb some of the extra costs. And, with the help of our fantastic website developers we’ve created online tools that not only make life easier for our clients, they help to minimise our admin costs so that we can keep our prices as competitive as possible.

In 2022 we rolled out two new payment options for our customers.  30 day credit accounts and a buy now pay later scheme to enable savvy landscapers to avoid price rises.

But our biggest and most adventurous investment to help customers avoid delivery delays and manage costs, has to be our well stocked yard in Leighton Buzzard.

New For 2022: The Arbour Landscape Solutions Yard

With a good range of paving stock accumulated in our yard, we can cushion our customers against delivery delays and price rises on any of the landscaping materials we hold in stock.  At the time of writing, that includes porcelain paving, Egyptian limestone, Flowpoint, Clay pavers, Paddlestones and a selection of essential landscaping tools and consumables.

See which products are in the Arbour Landscape Solutions yard today.

Having a yard with good access, has meant that we can also offer a click and collect service. It’s perfect for any landscaper, garden designer or developer who wants to reduce haulage costs by picking materials up themselves.  So far, it’s proved to be a real asset and do you know what? As much as I love my website, it’s been fabulous to meet people face to face and find out about their projects.

Speaking of meeting face to face, 2022 saw myself spending a wee bit more time on the road. Delivering samples, answering questions, and talking to various groups about how to make the most of opportunities within the landscape industry.  In some cases, that meant introducing groups to new innovations such as the Solid Wall System.  For others it was serious discussion about the importance of developing strong working relationships.

attendees at the Camden event with arbour landscape solutions

Just two of the SGD cluster groups that ARbour Landscape Solutions had the pleasure of meeting in 2022

What will 2023 bring?

Last summer we found ourselves battling with extreme heat and with drought. Are hot summers a result of climate change? Will they become the norm? I have my own thoughts on that but what I do know for sure, is that enquiries for pergolas increased massively along with the demand for bespoke shaped stone for pool surrounds.

I think 2023 is going to be an ‘interesting’ year for the landscape industry.  New legislation for biodiversity net gain will open up opportunities for anyone interested in green roofs, living walls and planting. While changing weather patterns will encourage domestic clients to think long and hard about futureproofing their gardens with clever landscaping.

The state of the economy is likely to slow down enquiries and shrink the budgets of those with smaller gardens. However, I do believe that people with comfortable incomes will continue to invest in their outdoor spaces. 

More and more landscapers will choose to hire equipment as and when they need it rather than invest in their own machinery.

The focus overall will be on quality rather than quantity but I do worry that we’ll see an influx of DIY’ers marketing themselves as landscapers and potentially undercutting industry colleagues.  All I can say is I hope Alan Sargent, Gareth Wilson and other expert witnesses remember to eat their daily Weetabix - they’re going to need it!

For me, and for Arbour Landscape Solutions - well, we’ve still got a few tricks up our sleeves. I’m looking forward to a whole series of events where I’ll be joining industry experts with a view to helping landscapers and garden designers develop their businesses.  Check out the events page on my website for more details and I’ll hopefully see you at some point during the year.

On the website, I’m working with Upshot Media on an exciting new project aimed at garden designers.  I hope to unveil it next spring, so keep watching social media for an announcement.

There’ll be more stock coming into the yard, closer collaboration with designers and landscapers so that we can provide what the industry wants at a price that end users can afford.

I don’t for one moment think that 2023 will be plain sailing for everyone in our industry, but I’m looking forward to finding ways to meet any challenges it brings.

2022 In A Nutshell

Biggest Logistical Challenge:   Sourcing and supplying materials for the Burberry Floating Meadow. An amazing floating meadow that was designed and built in a record 3 week timeframe.

Greatest Honour:  Being asked to supply materials to a Hampton Court Show Garden by Consilium Hortus which went on to win an award.

Proudest Moments:  Watching my eldest daughter pass her A Levels and start her Uni adventure.

Most Exciting Part Of The Year: There were lots of them! But speaking at events around the country are definitely among the highlights. I’ve loved meeting more garden designers than ever before and I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the specification of design details in the future.

Biggest change to the business:  Widening our horizons from an online business to having a yard where we can store materials and meet customers face to face.

Best Service Improvements:  I’ll never be able to improve on the customer service provided by my amazing assistant Debs, but I am proud of our Click and Collect service and the way that having a stock holding has speeded up the lead time for orders.