By Karen Smith
The Landscape Association recently hosted its inaugural TLA Landscape Expo in Ryde in New South Wales and was held at TAFE NSW, Ryde Campus. Attendance exceeded expectations with over 800 people enjoying the large, trade-focused event.
Landscape professionals across the full spectrum of the industry – maintenance, construction, and design, enjoyed the 50 trade exhibits, product demonstrations and speaker program, as well as the buzz of catching up with industry colleagues and friends.
CEO of The Landscape Association, Jodie Dean, said the Expo was a huge success for the association, drawing in landscape professionals from right across NSW and the ACT and showcasing an impressive lineup of landscape products, services, and industry-leading expertise.
“We loved welcoming both members and non-members to the event,” she said. “It was a program created by landscapers for landscapers and the partnership with TAFE NSW really met our core purpose of furthering the growth and professionalism of the landscape industry.”
TLA board member Shannon Decker, who chaired the Expo Steering Committee, was one of the experts at the event and said he felt encouraged by the passion for the industry from everyone he spoke to.
“The landscape industry is great to be part of, and I think educational events like this organised by TLA foster networking and help to keep all industry members up to date with the latest ideas and products,” he said.
The expo was sponsored by some of the leading companies in the landscape industry, including major sponsor Arborgreen.
“We’re thrilled to see a landscape industry event of this calibre back on in New South Wales, bringing industry suppliers and the trade together. Jodie and the TLA team did an outstanding job creating this platform to educate members and showcase innovative solutions. We’re looking forward to supporting the next one,” said Marc Jarvis from Arborgreen.
TAFE NSW’s collaboration was central to the success of the day, both hosting the event and facilitating attendance with over 250 students studying landscape and horticulture qualifications and encouraging them to bring their bosses along as a way for everyone to connect with the industry.
Celebrity landscaper, and TLA ambassador, Charlie Albone of TV’s Better Homes and Gardens was one of the special guests at the Expo, saying that he welcomed the chance to return to Ryde TAFE, where he first studied horticulture.
Attendees accessed Expo deals and sponsor prizes throughout the day and TLA launched its new free student membership at the Expo, which is a great initiative for those beginning their landscape career.
A demonstration was given about a unique tree staking product, how to use it and its effectiveness by Callum McIntyre from Natural Growth Partners, (in conjunction with Arborgreen). “Tree Coach”, is an all-in-one solution for planting/staking/watering and protection (particularly from brush cutters). It is manufactured from curb-side waste, and available in two sizes. Callum explained that if the tree is staked correctly at the plant out stage using this system the tree will grow to be strong with good root development, better caliper and will establish more easily. The system is easy to assemble, and has flexible stakes that allows the tree movement. There is a lower ring which provides rigidity while the roots are growing and which breaks down over time. The upper watering ring protects the root ball and aids with water delivery. Once established the stakes can be re-used or recycled and good news, it is made in Australia
Charlie Albone, Landscape Designer and Director of Inspired Exteriors and Host of Better Homes and Gardens TV Show shared with the audience images and thoughts on the many show gardens he has created around the world, as well as the lessons he has learnt from entering and winning show gardens. Charlie was first involved in show gardens in 2013 at the Chelsea Garden Show when he went to make a documentary. After that he thought he would have a go at entering himself. Entering is not an easy task and the feedback from judges can be tough but at the same time is a great learning exercise. Charlie said he reflects on the feedback and uses it in every garden he designs, whether a show garden or not, as it ensures you will get better at your craft. Entering is also a huge investment both in the time it takes in planning as well as the financial commitment, however, the amount of work he gains from entering pays off. When entering a show garden at Chelsea Garden Show in the UK he met the owners of the Shangri La Hotel, who were impressed with his design and asked if he would design their garden, they subsequently flew him to Hong Kong, and that lead to another trip to Singapore to design a lobby.
Wafi Asmar and Michael Weller from SafeWork NSW gave an informative presentation on silica safety. They discussed what the harms are and where you are likely to be exposed, and what you can do to prevent exposure. Crystalline silica is a common mineral used in building products and construction materials such as shale, sandstone, concrete, bricks and manufactured stone. A health hazard is created when fine particles are inhaled. This is more likely to occur when materials are cut, sanded or drilled, and dry sweeping or using compressed air rather than wet sweeping or using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Silicosis is an occupational disease and is preventable if you follow workplace guidelines. I urge you to look on the SafeWork website to learn more about silica safety¹.
The landscaper and designer – ‘working better together’ panel discussion included members of the Landscape Design Institute (LDI) and The Landscape Association (TLA), including Adam Robinson, Karen Staunton-Ross, Steve Warner, Shannon Decker and Luke Roodenburg. The discussion covered the hiccups that occur when designers and landscapers do not communicate well. The take home message from the discussion was to develop strong and open communications from all parties concerned from the outset. It’s one thing to design a landscape but to have good communication with the person who is going to build it is important. The communication works both ways, so it is imperative that strong relationships are formed for the benefit of everyone.
After questions were answered, Tony Lestreel from Shapescaper® demonstrated the use of steel landscape edging and how to install it effectively and efficiently. Shapescaper® also supply hexagonal, rectangular and round steel planters that all fit together.
For the trades people, Skye Sydenham talked about a new app called ‘Go Tradie’ – a messaging app built for work. You are able to communicate with your team, and you can chat, list tasks, add images, and find contractors and sub-contractors. It is easy to use and it keeps everything in one app.
Mary Clare Hansby from Arborgreen showed examples of retaining walls built with Flex MSE Vegetated Wall Systems. This is a simple two-component system that involves Geobags and interlocking plates. I was impressed with the ease of construction of walls that can reach up to around 22 metres high, and constructed in half the time of a concrete block wall. Plants can be installed directly into the Geobags or they can hydroseeded.
Jason Banks touched the hearts of many in the audience when he talked about his not-for-profit organisation TIACS (This Is A Conversation Starter). TIACS is a free mental health counselling service for tradies, truckies, rural and blue-collar workers. TradeMutt is their workwear company which produces brightly coloured shirts with the slogan ‘Start the Conversation’ on the back. Jason said that often people comment when he wears the shirts, some along the lines of “great shirt mate” or “how much are you getting paid to wear that shirt?”, either way it starts a conversation. It was lovely to see all the TLA team wearing TradeMutt shirts and 5% of sales for the TLA awards night will go to TIACS.
The final speaker of the day was Martin Calnin, also from SafeWork NSW, who discussed the new hearing test requirements for NSW workplaces. If you are exposed to noise where you need to raise your voice to speak to someone or if you are using noisy tools or machinery, then you are exposed.
From 1 January 2024, the NSW Government will commence Clause 58 “Audiometric testing” of the NSW WHS Regulation 2017. This means that from that date a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) will be required to provide audiometric testing to any of their workers who are frequently required by them to use personal protective equipment (hearing protection), to protect the worker from the risk of hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard for noise.
Prior to 31 December 2023, SafeWork NSW will be developing and distributing a range of guidance material.
That concluded the speakers for the day and visitors were free to visit the exhibitors. I spoke with exhibitors who were all thrilled to have such an event in Sydney.
Main photo: Lots of interaction with exhibitors
All images supplied by The Landscape Association (TLA)