November 8, 2022

Lindsay Drake NightingaleFor many of us, the gardening season is winding down and planning for the 2023 season will soon begin. The 50th anniversary Congress trade show is being anticipated with glee for the return of in-person networking opportunities. Winter education courses are also starting to roll out. I believe sustainability will be one of the big topics we will all discuss as we connect this winter.

There is an emphasis being driven by landscaping professionals and our clients for more sustainable practices. We have always participated in the greening of the planet and now our clients are expressing their concerns — sometimes rather urgently. Much of it may be budget driven, especially with the economic reports over the past few months, but it is also coming from a place of care and respect for the planet.

Clients are concerned about the amount of water their gardens require, so now they want more frought tolerant plants. They want to plant trees that shade their home from the strong summer sun. They want vegetable gardens and containers to grow their own produce. Clients don’t want to use salt products in the winter because they can leach into the soil. How do we change to meet the push for sustainable gardening and landscaping practices? How do we work with other organizations, such as Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Association of Municipalities of Ontario, etc., to drive sustainability practices forward?

Landscaping professionals graduating from college, university and the Apprenticeship Program are the way forward. They are being taught by forward-thinking professionals with a strong emphasis on the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and societal. In 2010, the Academic Advisory Committee for the Office of Sustainability at the University of Alberta defined sustainability as “the process of living within the limits of available physical, natural and social resources in ways that allow the living systems in which humans are embedded to thrive in perpetuity.”

As landscape professionals, we need to look at our businesses and determine how we can continue to be profitable, while being kinder to the planet. We also need to recruit like-minded individuals (clients and employees) to create and maintain spaces that will not destroy the environment, but rather will enhance our spaces. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” With over 3,000 member companies Landscape Ontario has the capability to make great strides to create a difference in the world.

I know of a number of companies in the Greater Toronto Area are making headway including: Ecoman, Quercus Gardens, Matthew Gove & Co., and The Backyard Urban Farm Company. Their guiding principles are totally in tune with the three pillars of sustainability. Check them out for some great examples. Let’s commit to improving ourselves and our companies so that we can all continue to thrive.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and further discussions.


Lindsay Drake Nightingale
LO President