Over the past weekend there has been much discussion in the garden and landscape community about sustainability, healthy environments and organic practices. Both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Garden Writers Association had their annual conferences and saving the planet through sustainable initiatives was high on each group’s priority lists. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers is having theirs in two weeks and the message will be the same. Everyone in the green industry agrees…almost.
For the past several years in private, at dinner parties and in my classrooms I have been having a similar discussion, but mine starts with the ‘M’ word…maintenance.Landscapes and designed environments are only as good and as long lasting as their maintenance. How many people do you know with a garden/lawn care service? I know many. How many of those companies have embraced sustainable practices? I bet the number goes way, way down. Here’s the deal. Until we take a leadership role and give those who maintain what we dream up a way to make a viable and profitable living maintaining our projects sustainably, our efforts are for naught. Great landscapes last beyond their designers. They are a living entity that requires care.
We need pro-level electric or solar mowers that are rechargeable from job to job. We need clean fuel burning trucks. We need blowers that minimize noise and pollution. We need to train people how to prune so that meatball pruning isn’t the norm. We need training in organic and sustainable practices at the mow and blow level. We need to lead the way, but we have to arm those who follow in our wake or it’s all for nothing.