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Landscape Project Management - Tips From An Expert

14/06/2022 - Case Studies and Inspiration

Landscaping industry expert, Alan Sargent is a valued regular contributor to our blog. His experience in all aspects of hands-on landscaping, contractual matters and best business practice is second to none.  If you find this article helpful, you should also subscribe to The Landscape Library where you will find a mine of information related to garden design and landscaping. I'll post a link at the bottom of the page.


Garden Designers who work in a free-lance fashion, for their own clients engaged by their own practice are frequently called upon by their customers to ‘project manage’ a scheme, working for and on their behalf. Designers who work for a Design & Build company may also be charged with looking after a project that they have surveyed, designed and specified. They are expected to be responsible for their ‘pet’ schemes almost as a matter of course. They are the initial, primary and ongoing link between the customer and the success of the works from beginning to end, including the choice and selection of materials, products and plants.

Such Design & Build designers are not formally charged with Project Managing, as much as managing the account and looking after their creation, working for and on behalf of their employers. In other words – their role is totally In-House and is not a separate contract.

They also act as surveyors, quantity surveyors, quality control officers and site supervisors, and do not hold any title beyond Designer. This is an essential qualification, as the role of acting as a Project Manager is clearly defined in Law. A Project Manager may be employed as an individual (even within a company of Project Managers, they are each personally responsible for their individual clients up to a certain point, when corporate responsibilities may take over)

They are responsible for the Planning, Executing, Monitoring, Controlling and Closing the project, from start to finish. They are responsible for the hiring and procuring of skilled and suitable staff, the correct products and materials to complete the job, in a timely manner, bringing the whole project to a close, on budget.

Project managers work for an organisation, not an individual customer of their own employer, and are engaged as such. As such, they are trained and accredited, having passed various management courses, and hold Public Liability and Indemnity Insurance for their work. 

However, what most clients really require is a Project Monitor, when the two job titles are separate. The difference between the two titles is simple; one is legally qualified individual working under strict rules, and the other is a person, appointed by the customer (often a role taken on by the project designer – although not necessarily so) who is willing and able to look after a scheme on their behalf, working with the chosen contractor (usually a landscaper) to ensure the smooth running of a job. The Monitor should be working as a nominated person within the Construction (Design Management) Regulations plan, and have full knowledge of the complete works, including the origin, source or supplier of all products and materials, to ensure that they arrive in the right order, and are properly protected and stored on site.

Part of the role of Project Monitor is to act as a Site Checker, especially on materials such as top soil and compost for example, where reliable quality across the site is very important. As each lorry load arrives, it should be recorded, and any paperwork that arrives with the batch is kept in the CDM file.  One single load of weed infested soil could ruin the whole project, costing many thousands on pounds to put right.

Thus, it may be seen that Project Monitoring is not a role to be undertaken lightly, although the work may be very rewarding, both financially and personally. Watching a complex garden scheme come to fruition, in time and on budget – even if the contractual requirements are not as onerous and defined as that of a Project Manager – is very satisfying!

Project Monitoring is one of those skilled jobs that suit ‘retired’ landscape contractors, or garden designers who feel confident enough to be able to make a home-owners dream come true, in an organised an timely manner, relieving them of all day-to-day on-site responsibilities, at the same time as being confident in their ability to achieve a successful outcome. To my mind, it is one of the best aspects of being involved in the landscape industry.

 Working on a beautiful site as a valued enabler, bring everything together as smoothly as possible!

Alan Sargent FCIHort MPGCA

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