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How Does Stress Impact The Builders Of Green Spaces

09/04/2024 - News

It’s well documented that spending time in green spaces can actually reduce the symptoms of stress. But what about the people who design, build and maintain green spaces for the wellbeing of others? How stressful are their lives and what can be done to protect their mental health?

As a business owner and ex-landscaper, Richard Bickler is no stranger to stress and knows that it comes in many forms. But how best to address stress? That’s what this blog attempts to explore.

  • surprise Customer Relationships
  • surprise Meeting Deadlines
  • surprise Budget Constraints
  • surprise Project Management
  • surprise Colleague Relationships
  • surprise The Perils Of Lone Working
  • surprise ADHD and other neurodivergent conditions in you and your colleagues
  • surprise Physical Health Impacting Mental Health

Until you have actually designed, built or maintained a garden for someone else, it’s very difficult to imagine that there are any stresses involved in the process. After all, working outside, beautifying spaces, getting involved with soil, plants, fresh air and nature are all supposed to be healthy, relaxing activities. However, just like any other job, there are stresses and strains along the way. If you are struggling with stress, the team at Arbour Landscape Solutions want you to know that you are not alone. 

Aligning Your Design Values With The Client’s Needs

If you have a passion for design, it can be a joy to combine your client’s wish list with your creative talents to design the most wonderful outdoor spaces. The one thing that cannot be taught at garden design school however, is how to read minds. Clients may say that they don’t know what they want their garden to look like, but actually, they usually do have a bit of an idea - they just don’t have the words to express that idea.  Trying to extract the facts you need about styling, colour choices, proportions of planting to hard landscaping can be mentally exhausting. Especially if you put together an amazing concept plan only to have it wholeheartedly rejected. That’s hard on your self esteem, and puts a dent in your pocket too.

We’re not saying that garden designers should dictate what happens in a garden, the clients will be the ones living with the scheme and the customer is always right. But it’s important to build resilience, to not take criticism personally and to be VERY clear in your communication and your listening skills.


Neville Stein horticultural business consultant

Fixing The Chinks In Your Armour


Nobody is good at everything. We’ve met people who are brilliant at translating the client brief into a beautiful garden but not so great at pricing the job to make a profit. There are those who can plan every single detail of a project but struggle to communicate the plan to their colleagues. And then there are those who put so much effort into keeping clients and colleagues happy that their own mental health suffers. We’re all different and it’s important to embrace our strengths and weaknesses and ask for help when needed.


Coaches and mentors like Neville Stein can help you to hone your skills, perfect your techniques and know when and how to outsource the services that just don’t come easily to you.

Here's what Neville has to say about stress:

"Stress and unhappiness can come if the work or activity you are engaged with is out of sync with your personal values. We might have all worked for someone in the past whose values we did not share and we only had several options, either put up with it, seek to influence their values positively or leave! Sometimes the commercial pressures of running a business can result in us comprising our values. For example, you might have a personal value that says you want to spend more time training and developing your staff, yet you are so busy that you have little time to do this, so in a sense your value is compromised because of an economic imperative. Perhaps though, in my experience, the greatest stress experienced by business owners is cash flow – the fear that they are going to run out of cash. So developing a business with strong positive cash flow can of course help alleviate stress."

The Perils of Lone Working

Running a business can feel lonely at times, even if you are surrounded by colleagues. But we’re talking about physically being on site on your own. For some, it’s a welcome relief from the hurley burley of life. Just being out of doors, immersed in nature with no one to hassle you can be an absolute joy. On the other hand, being alone can sometimes create a prime opportunity for negative thinking to escalate. With nothing to distract your mind, worries about work, relationships, finances and everything else we face can churn over and over in your mind until your mental health begins to suffer.

Organisations such as Perennial can be a great help in that situation. No, they can’t send someone to work alongside you, but they can put you in touch with professionals who will help you get those negative thoughts in balance.

Visit the Perennial Website here


Neurodivergence And Stress

This blog is too small a space to delve too deeply into the effects of ADHD and other neurodivergent conditions that may or may not have been diagnosed. ADHD in particular is far more complicated than just ‘having too much energy’ or ‘not listening properly’.  The condition impacts lives in lots of different ways but when recognised, managed and harnessed, ADHD is a superpower as landscaping consultant Paul Greenyer knows only too well.

It’s not uncommon for those blessed with ADHD superpowers to be attracted to landscaping. Physical activity along with the opportunity to use a wide range of skills and work on vastly different projects, really does light up the ADHD brain. 

Paul is currently studying the nuances of ADHD in the landscape industry with a view to helping managers to recognise the symptoms of the condition and adapt management techniques that will help nurture and develop the talents of those lucky enough to be affected. We'll update you with his findings as soon as they are published.


The Connection Between Physical And Mental Health

It’s almost impossible to deal with stress when you are in pain or unwell. We’ve all done it when we have back pain/sore knees/headache etc - felt disproportionately annoyed at a colleague for some minor mistake. And the adrenalin released into our system just doesn’t seem to dissipate over time, instead the stress hormones build up and quite possibly contribute to an every greater feeling of ill health.

Fitness guru Helen Goddard-Nickolls has an interesting approach to stress. As well as encouraging clients to understand their body structure much better so that they can work on what she calls ‘functional fitness”, Helen suggests we should all embrace stress as part of life and learn how to proactively manage it.

Here’s a quote from an article Helen has written for us. You can read the full article here 

Ask anyone about the best way to handle stress and you’ll likely hear familiar advice: exercise more, avoid caffeine, watch a funny movie, practice mindfulness, get plenty of rest - the list goes on. And while these self-care practices can be undeniably beneficial, there’s a crucial aspect of stress management that often goes overlooked: our attitude and understanding towards stress itself.

When the usual remedies aren’t enough and stress begins to feel overwhelming, it’s time to shift our perspective. Rather than viewing stress as something to be avoided or eliminated, what if we embraced it instead? Scientific studies highlight the importance of our mindset in stress relief, suggesting that our attitude towards stress can significantly impact our overall wellbeing.


stress management tips

Project Management Headaches

There’s no feeling like the one when you step back and look at a garden you have just finished, see the client’s beaming face and just know that you’ve done a good job. It’s a great dopamine hit and you can feel great for days or even months. But that feeling is so easily marred if the job hasn’t run smoothly. Awful weather, late deliveries, mid-project price rises and even difficult clients can certainly take the shine off a project.

We all need to feel good about our work and put practices in place to minimise the stress that almost inevitably follows creativity.

The team at Arbour Landscape Solutions aim to support industry colleagues by ensuring that the procurement and delivery of landscaping materials runs as smoothly as possible. And we’re always happy to lend an ear or a shoulder whenever they are needed.

If you only take one message away from this article, let it be this. Stress is an inevitable part of success, but it is a double edged sword. By learning how harness the power of stress you can use it as a superpower, but let it get out of control and it will do untold damage to your mental and physical health. It’s important to educate yourself about stress, it’s also important to ask for help.

Acquaint yourself with organisations such as Perennial, and coaches such as Neville Stein and Helen Goddard-Nickolls and never be afraid to reach out when you need help.