The Australian backyard, and the landscaping industry, has changed a lot over the years. Once upon a time our backyards consisted of a quarter of an acre of lawn, a Hills Hoist, a barbeque and a few rose bushes. Not anymore!
As our population has increased, the average suburban block has shrunk. Not only do we have less space for our gardens (and time to maintain them), but the way we use that space has changed. Our backyards are now an integral part of our lives and an extension of our living rooms - a piece of the great outdoors that brings people together every day. Our gardens are smarter and more sophisticated than ever before, and they need to be able to do more with less.
As the peak industry body representing the Victorian landscaping industry, Landscaping Victoria Master Landscapers can help you find the right professional to bring your outdoor space to life and create the perfect garden to suit your lifestyle.
Our members are involved in all aspects of the landscaping sector including design, construction and maintenance, and are well supported by our business members who supply quality products and services to the industry.
Click here to search our member database and find the right landscaping professional for your project.
Why use a Landscaping Victoria member?
Our members are subjected to a rigorous application process. We've done the research so you have peace of mind knowing that you are entrusting your home to a qualified and reputable landscaping professional.
Landscaping is an exciting industry with endless ideas and inspiration to be found, but it is also serious business. Like all other building projects, it's important to protect your investment by choosing suitably qualified professionals to carry out the work.
It's all in the planning
The design of your garden is as important as the design of your home, therefore it is recommended that you consider the professional advice of a qualified and skilled designer who can create a successful outdoor space that will enhance your lifestyle and add value to your property.
A landscape designer will identify your needs and how you use the outside space you are planning to have landscaped, as well as take into account the site conditions. This is very important because every garden is different due to it's positioning in regards to the weather, the relationship between the outside space and inside view and the people who are going to use the space. What you have seen in magazines or in your friends yard may not necessarily work for you. Having a landscape designer develop a customised landscape plan for your home will ultimately save you money and the end result will be perfect for you and your family.
Anyone can present themselves as a landscape designer so always check that they are qualified (in horticulture, landscape design or architecture) and that they have Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Use a registered builder!
Today's landscaping projects are so much more than just plants and dirt. If your project requires any construction (decks, gazebos, retaining walls, pools) you will need a Registered Building Practitioner to carry out the work.
Landscape Builders have a special class of registration with the Victorian Building Authority (Domestic Building Limited to Structural Landscaping). As with any tradesperson you are considering hiring, ask your landscaper if they are registered with the VBA or check online here.
You can find out more from the Victorian Building Authority www.vba.vic.gov.au. All Landscaping Victoria Builder members are Registered Building Practitioners.
Always have a contract in place - would you build a house without one? Landscaping is no different. A professional landscaper will have a contract that clearly sets out what work they will be doing, how much it will cost and the payment stages.
The deposit should be no more than 10% of the total contract pirice for projects up to $20,000 and 5% for projects over $20,000. This is the law. Payment requests after the deposit can be for larger sums and should match up to works completed or materials ordered that are commensurate with what has been received. For example it is not unusual for a landscaper to invoice for a large proportion of the project cost when all the materials are delivered to site.
All landscaper builders should carry public liability insurance - check that they do. Similarly landscape designers should carry professional indemnity insurance.
If your project costs more than $16,000 and you are using a Registered Building Practitioner to carry out any sort of domestic building works, they should provide you with domestic building insurance. Domestic building insurance covers you if the landscaper/builder dies, disappears or becomes insolvent. Unregistered landscapers cannot offer domestic building insurance. Learn more about domestic building insurance here and here.
Keep your garden looking it's best
You've invested a lot of money in having a landscape constructed but what about the ongoing maintenance? Not everyone is a passionate gardener like our members, so to protect your investment you may need to think about factoring in a regular garden maintenance program as part of your budget. It's just like getting your car serviced!
Gardens are living things therefore they grow, plants die and plants can become unruly if not pruned. A professional landscape gardener should have a thorough knowledge in horticulture and plant care. They can develop a maintenance program that suits both your budget and your garden to keep your landscape looking as great as it did when it was constructed and that will evolve over time. Click here to find a landscape maintenance professional in your area.
Some jobs are too big to DIY and knowing if you need a permit, contract or insurance can be confusing.
Some landscaping work must only be undertaken by a registered building practitioner, while for other landscaping work this is not legally required and can be carried out by one of Landscaping Victoria's Gardener Members.
The Victorian Building Authority provide more information about when a registered building practitioner is required here.
To improve the safety of pools and spas, the Victorian regulations changed on 1 December 2019. From this date, if you own a property with a pool or spa, you’re required to register the pool/spa with your local council by 1 June 2020.
In addition, owners are now required to obtain and lodge a compliance certificate for the safety of their pool or spa barrier every four years. To do this, you’ll need to engage a building surveyor or building inspector who can carry out an inspection and provide the certificate confirming your barrier complies with safety requirements.
Common reasons for barriers failing to comply include:
lack of maintenance, e.g. gate hinges and latches wearing out
alterations and additions to adjacent buildings or boundary fences that compromise the effectiveness of the barrier
placing climbable objects such as BBQs or pot plants next to a barrier
allowing climbable vegetation to grow immediately next to a barrier.
Once you’ve registered your pool or spa, your local council will notify you of the due date for your first certificate of pool barrier compliance. You are required to arrange an inspection and lodge the certificate with your local council by the due date.
A beautiful landscape costs money and takes time, it's only on television that it happens over a weekend for a little bit of money! Start with your wishlist and work back from there. If you include everything upfront, a designer can include all of these things in your plan and then break the construction down into manageable stages. But be realistic, the more construction required, the more expensive the project will be. Items like swimming pools, retaining walls, dry stone walls cannot be achieved within a $10,000 budget and if a landscaper suggests they can do it for this - be skeptical, you do get what you pay for!
A Landscape Designer is like a creative interpreter of your needs and your site's abilities. The designer works with you to transform your ideas into reality.
The design process usually includes the following steps:
Site Analysis - taking levels and measurements of the site, soil analysis and noting existing vegetation.
Preparing a concept plan - in essence a scaled layout of te new garden based on the brief and expanded with the designer's ideas.
Preparation of the master landscape plan - includes levels, measurements, materials to be used, specifications, plantings. This is the working drawing that can be used by clients for obtaining quotes to install the works by a landscape builder or gardener.
In Victoria, building practitioners must be registered with the VBA to perform certain kinds of work. You’ll need to use a registered builder for domestic building work worth more than $10,000.
Landscape building works include decks, pergolas, retaining walls, pools and property boundary fences.
To ensure your project is completed by someone with the necessary qualifications and experience, make sure you always use a registered building practitioner. If you engage a company to do your project, make sure the company is registered as a building practitioner.
All registered building practitioners (except companies) are issued with a Photo ID card that lists the category of registration for the work they are eligible to complete.
A Landscape Gardener or Horticulturalist is a service provider who offers non-structural services such as soft landscaping and garden maintenance, i.e. work that does not require building permits or for the member to hold Registered Builder Practitioner status.
A Landscape Gardener will generally have a relevant qualification in horticulture.
By law, builders or tradespeople must take out domestic building insurance for their clients when the cost of the works exceeds $16,000.
This insurance only gives you limited cover.
Domestic building insurance, previously known as ‘builders warranty insurance’, protects consumers in the event their builder or tradesperson cannot finish the building project or fix defects because they have:
become insolvent, or
Your builder or tradesperson must provide you with a copy of the policy and a certificate of insurance covering your property before you pay a deposit or any other money.
Domestic building insurance covers costs up to $300,000 to fix structural defects for six years, and non-structural defects for two years. Claims on the policy for work that was not completed may be limited to only 20 per cent of the contract price.