Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…or is it?
Now that the sun is (kinda) out, we wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look at the landscaping trade to see if it really is the bee’s knees, and what happens when the rain comes.
So, we caught up with Ross Conquest, owner of Conquest Hard Landscaping (and one of our 2017 Young Tradesperson of the Year competition winners) to shine a light on the trade.
What first inspired you to get into landscaping?
When I left school I was working for a contractor doing landscape gardening. I really wanted to get into hard landscaping (paving, structures, bricks etc.) but incorporating the softer, prettier materials. People weren’t really using these at the time so that’s how I got into design and build.
I was actually made redundant when I was around 17 but I had a good base of clients so thought why not carry on and go it alone?
How do you go about building up your client base?
For me it comes down to two things. The first is having the confidence in yourself to do the job. The second is making your clients see that too – that’s how you land the big budget projects. Having a really strong portfolio is also really important, and so are word of mouth recommendations.
What is your favourite thing about working in the landscaping trade?
For me, it’s getting to be a master builder and using those skills to be really creative. We’re constantly working on both design and build projects so it’s definitely a multi-skilled trade. You can’t just be a good bricklayer, you have to be just as good a chippie too, for example.
What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on?
We worked on the gold medal winning Mind Trap garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show alongside Conway Landscapes. That was really cool. It was designed by Ian Price and based on his own experience with mental health, using plants and various structures like a bespoke water feature to show different states of mind.
We all know the Great British weather gets a pretty bad rap, but how does this impact your business?
It’s a bit more enjoyable in summer, but then again extreme sun can make things tricky too – like mixes drying too quickly. There’s a misconception that nothing can be done from October onwards but we wouldn’t have any work if that was the case! Obviously really bad weather can lead to delays, but for the last few years we’ve worked right the way through with no issues. It’s just about being prepared and making arrangements so you have somewhere to hide, like getting a gazebo up.
What’s the biggest trend at the moment?
I’d say in the last year porcelain paving has really taken off; we get a lot of clients asking for that now which is great as we get to show off a set of a skills that aren’t necessarily industry standard. Composite decking is also really popular with our clients.
Would you encourage other people to get into landscaping?
Absolutely, I think it’s a really cool area to get into, and despite what people think, you can do it come rain or shine. There aren’t many trades that offer such a variety of skills to learn and things to build. And, when designing and building a garden, you’re getting to be creative from the start, which isn’t always the case in other disciplines.
Fancy getting your hands dirty? Check out our landscaping range here: www.jewson.co.uk/landscaping/