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pro landscaper magazine

Little Interviews Expanded – Jilayne Rickards

by | 20 May 24 | From the Mag, Long Reads, News

Launched at FutureScape 2023, the Pro Landscaper Sustainability & Biodiversity Awards highlight the future of landscaping.

These awards are on a mission to showcase the most important innovation and initiatives across the UK landscaping sector, from design, to construction, to product supply and manufacturing. We look for great stories of environmental impact reduction and of those working towards a more sustainable future for the planet.

We caught up with some of the inaugural winners to find out the benefits of entering these awards what we can expect to see from them over the coming year.

Read the full article in the May issue of Pro Landscaper Magazine.  


Your name: Jilayne Rickards

Your position: Business owner, garden and landscape design in Cornwall

Company: Jilayne Rickards

Award: Pro Landscaper Sustainability & Biodiversity Awards, Commercial Design Project


  • How has winning the award benefitted your business?

It’s early days yet, but I think that once I start getting information out there it’s going to be a nice way to back me up when gaining new work and new clients. Being able to subtly drop in that I won a sustainability award is exactly what potential clients like to hear, especially if they’re looking to do something sustainability wise within their own garden. It’s almost like having that really nice, additional selling point in that way.

  • Why did you enter the Pro Landscaper Sustainability & Awards?

Primarily, it was initially to promote the charity Fauna and Flora, which is a massive conservation charity that does such good work globally. So, I was really keen to continue to support it and build awareness.

But also, the messaging started to change once we started designing this project and it actually became bigger than that and it presented the opportunity to inspire other people to look at how they’re creating and to shows others that there’s a better way, a better solution from all the concrete and all the waste, which is just year in year out what’s expected at various show gardens.

Being able to show that we can do some things differently and we can work more sustainably. I just thought that if it were then to be recognised within the industry, with sustainability award behind it, then it would help with that messaging. Let’s take a look at how we’re doing all of this, let’s take a different approach – that’s really why I entered.

  • Why do you believe the Pro Landscaper Sustainability & Biodiversity Awards are so important?

Whilst having the award definitely helps create awareness and motivation, I think it’s bigger than that. I don’t think there’s only one solution for this really. I think most designers have got this kind of idea in their mind now about how we can try and do things more sustainably, but you also have to get the landscapers on board too, and they’re going to have to be prepared to take some risks because, in effect, we’re asking people to move away from modern day building techniques and we’re asking them to go back to more traditional techniques in some cases, and we’re asking them to use perhaps different products.

For example, if you don’t want to use concrete and cement, there are different kinds of materials we can use which have a much lower carbon footprint, but a lot of a lot of landscapers won’t have necessarily explored these techniques and may not be prepared to take the risk and try them. Ultimately, the designer can design something that will look wonderful, but the landscaper who builds it is the one who takes the risk. And if it falls apart, that’s their risk. So, it takes more than just sustainability awards to start the change, but they certainly help, and they start the ball rolling.

I’ve also been very pleased to hear that living landscapes, which built the Fauna and Flora Chelsea garden, was approached by a company or designers to construct a new garden at Chelsea this year, on the fact that they had built my garden so sustainably. So, that’s already super encouraging and little bit by little bit, we’ll get there.

  • What have the biggest challenges been across the last year?

I think one of the biggest problems is that we all want to want to make a difference. Well, I’ll speak for myself, and perhaps I’m generalising too much, but I think the mood is there that we all want to try and do things differently. But what really doesn’t help is when you have loads of greenwashing going on with suppliers who just say that their products are sustainable when they may not be.

Instead, you often have to spend a long time researching the origins, the longevity, the recyclability and whether or not the supplier is being truthful. I believe there are some level of industry standards being worked towards, but it would be great to have a benchmark and an accreditation for sustainability to avoid any kind of misconception.

One of the nastiest sticking points to talk about as well is trying to do things more sustainably without having the project end up being so much more expensive. When you’re using things like recycled materials, it tends to be more expensive than using new, so you have to think creatively about the ways in which you source everything. How can you still fit into a client’s budget? Is there a way you can upcycle to avoid spending? How long will it take to do this? Will the labour cost be more? The answer for me is to do slightly less, more often. It’s about being a bit more creative with the problems that arise. Using more expensive materials is fine, just less often. Every little helps.

  • What do you think is the reason behind these challenges?

With things like reclaimed bricks, you have to take them from a demolition site You usually take them back somewhere, clean them up, and then sell them again. So, there’s a lot of time and hours spent in that – the process of taking stuff from demolition sites to get back to a yard, cleaning them up, and then setting the moment tend to add the expenses, rather than just transporting stuff straight from site.

Sometimes it’s also harder to source and harder to find. So, that comes, again, back down to the time you’re prepared to put into finding stuff and sourcing stuff. And if you’re spending more time trying to source notary change products, your time is money, and therefore, the scheme ends up becoming more expensive.

It’s just not mainstream yet. I feel like we’re almost at a tipping point where it’s becoming mainstream, and give it five more years and it will all just be so much easier. But at the moment, things can still be really quite misleading, quite difficult to source, and quite difficult to understand.

  • What are you most looking forward to for the year ahead?

I’m really in the mood for a great project and I jumped into 2024 feeling really quite excited, but I don’t quite know why.

Having moved from London down to Cornwall, we just bought a house last year so have been doing a lot of building work, with my own garden to get stick into. So, a good deal of my time, effort, and energy has been going into that recently, but all of a sudden I’ve got this feeling that something really exciting is going to happen, but I have no idea what that is.

It’s a bit of a strange one for me, because I come from Cornwall, so I’ve returned to my roots. I understand the materials here, I understand the wildlife and the biodiversity here and I’m looking forward to exploring the projects that could arise.

But I’m excited to be part of the RHS sustainability think tank for its shows and I’m hoping that having these conversations with like-minded people might lead to better shows and more sustainability within shows. Something is in the air!

  • Would you recommend entering an award with Pro Landscaper?

 I found the whole process quite joyful. When Ollie contacted me and said, “What do you think?”, I was like, well, I haven’t really got a project to enter. But he was so enthusiastic and when I mentioned the garden from Chelsea, Ollie helped me to work out the categories and was just so supportive. It really was joyful working with him.

The whole process with Pro Landscaper was fun, and it was done with nice intent. Even the process of actually doing the application was fun and that’s always a good starting point! So, it was just a really nice thing to do.

But secondly, I think that long term is a good thing to do. Because it really, it really boosts your confidence; it’s really very affirming, and supportive to win something like this.

We are mostly all out there on our own, trying to do things – or I certainly am out there trying to do things differently, without really any support. So, to get something like this really just makes me feel great, because it’s acknowledgement within my industry. And that just boosts your confidence as well as leading you onto other good things.

I’d highly, highly recommend it; it’s a really wonderful thing to do.


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