What does it mean to hire a professional landscaper?
First of all, what is a professional?
In an industry that is not recognized as a compulsory trade, it seems anyone can call themselves a landscaper. But in fact, there are designations that help to distinguish a person or company that is in fact – professional. The first would be education and experience. Admittedly there a lot of landscapers that our self taught that do exceptional work and uncompromised installations, meeting or exceeding the industry standard.
In Manitoba, we offer the Apprenticeship Manitoba’s Red Seal Landscape Horticulturist program for a credentialed education. Previously, the Greenspace Horticulture Diploma and Certificate programs at Red River College were offered. However, intake for those programs was cancelled as of June 2018.
Individual or companies can also receive a recognized Certification from the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association administered through our provincial representatives known as Landscape Industry Certified. There are several certifications available to our incredibly diverse profession that are designed to test an individual’s knowledge through a written test and a practical hands-on session that exhibits competence in the specific skills required to excel in your area of service. Certifications include Manager for the owners or supervisors, Technician which includes Hardscape, Softscape, Turf Maintenance, and Ornamental Maintenance, as well as Landscape Industry Certified Designers.
Certified staff are skilled professionals that have proven they’ve mastered the skills and knowledge used on the job. Trained and tested to industry standards, they complete work correctly, consistently and efficiently. Once completed you are required to achieve credits through educational seminars or industry involvement to maintain your certification, which helps an individual or company to keep up to date on trends and best practices.
The best opportunity for these continuing education credits is through our profession’s organization; the Manitoba Nursery Landscape Association, which is another indicator of an individual or company’s commitment to the profession. MBNLA is a provincial association dedicated to advancing the interests of horticulture and landscape professionals. MBNLA is a non-profit organization whose members are businesses and individuals committed to promoting awareness of environmental horticulture and upholding the highest standards of the nursery and landscape industry. Member companies benefit from the educational conferences and events that connect all stake-holders of the diverse profession including contractors, retail greenhouses, wholesale growers, product and equipment suppliers, and professional service providers. Opportunities to meet, share knowledge and best practices, be aware of trends in the industry, and to take advantage of savings offered through member benefits gives members an advantage in the competitive marketplace and enables members to best serve their customers. Members are also able to compete for awards for their projects and increase their marketing potential and tend to hold each other accountable; continually raising the bar in safety, quality, and image.
You don’t need all of these to be considered a professional but competition in the green industry is a fact of life.
It’s about the ability to show that you have the acquired knowledge, skills, experience, and accountability that will leave customers and clients confident in their decision to invest in you, your product, or service.
Membership and credentials will help to convey that.