Regulation & accreditation in the landscaping industry… state of play for consumers?

The domestic market in delivery is wholly unregulated. However there are bodies that offer reference checking along with some other basic checks:

Marshalls – the largest distributor that check over paving and driveways (4 projects per year and 4 to obtain the registration number) and they do actually reject and remove people & businesses from the register.

British association of Landscape Industries (BALI) – a long standing body that offers accreditation and industry forum for designers, contractors, maintenance teams and soft landscapers and offers a good base for code of conduct.

APL РThe Horticultural Trades Association Рsimilar to BALI (above) this organisation boasts what is stated to be the toughest accreditation in the industry for design and build for soft and hard landscaping.

RHS – The Royal Horticultural Society – “As a charity, we want to inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital role that plants play”

This organisation is Royal funded and offers more for a public interest training and awareness as well as culture change and safeguarding the science of horticulture.

HTA – The Horticultural Trades Association – run for members by members. This organisation offers again a forum but led by trades and focused in supporting trades.

Domestic regulation refrence:

It is clear that there are a number of organisations offering accreditation but the reality is that there are many contractors out there that do not hold these accreditations and clients are engaging without thinking that there are no accrediting bodies, not valuing them, or simply trusting the contractor in good faith.

The statement is worrying from RHS that they offer a service for an expert witness for litigation purposes we can only imagine:

“Gardening organisations can assist members of the public wishing to find a gardener, contractor, consultant or expert witness. Below we explain about some of organisations that can help.”

With the abundance of opportunity out there in the market there are a large mix of contractors to choose from and the more established businesses being booked on larger projects mean there is a market for the smaller businesses to cut their teeth on the smaller project or the more impatient clients.

While everyone deserves a chance, from experience I have been called out to one or two jobs per year where there is conflict between the removed from site contractor and the client where typical problems have occurred such as:

  • Poor angles for drainage
  • Poor quality laying of paving
  • Incorrect preparation of soft landscaping beds
  • Wrong methods for hard landscaping such as mix ratios
  • Weather proofing and structural integrity
  • Wrong excavation depths and cheap sub base materials

I am afraid the typical story is that most clients did accept the cheaper quote and have the contractor a chance in good faith.

This is the state of play from my experience.


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