Its directors, Deighton Clegg and Oscar Lockwood, founded The Office Plant and Real Landscapes, now Servest, in the 1990s. Today, the senior management of Life Landscapes has 350 years’ experience combined.
In order to keep the company competitive and relative the group has undergone change, now offering new services that Oscar says is: “part of our green journey”
We sat down with Oscar Lockwood to talk about the changes occurring in Life Landscapes and Life Green Group.
What was the motivation for the new divisions joining Life Landscapes?
“Increasingly landscape maintenance companies are under pressure to resolve other maintenance issues for corporate clients. Instead of passing the bucket we have picked up the baton in this regard.”
Fundamentally, gardeners (landscapers) need to be contributing to reducing carbon footprint where ever we can. The green industry is becoming sexier, and gardeners are not green, at Life Landscape we aim to be a green landscaping company – offering abroad range of cost-effective, eco-friendly services to our clients. So we found a gap in the market and we took on some new services in order to achieve this. The new services being grey water (Life Water IQ) and food waste recycling (Life & Earth).”
What was the motivation for the logo face-lift?
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything – George Bernard Shaw
“Life Landscapes has had the same logo for the last 6 or 7 years because we took on new divisions we decided to give the all the logos a face-lift at the same time.”
Do you think the logo change will influence business for Life Landscapes?
“I had faith in the old logo and I have faith in the new logo. I think the changes are very subtle and effective, especially with regards to the Life Landscapes logo. Ida insisted that we do not alter the Life Landscapes logo too much, and so far the feedback has been very positive.
What I like about the new logos is that they differentiate between the divisions ( Life Indoors, Life Sports Turf and Life Landscapes) and the holding company , Life Green Group. We have made a decision to give the Life Green Group brand a lot more exposure, for want of a better word. Life Green Group it is the umbrella brand and holding company – the capitalisation the Life Green Group logo depicts this. The Green Group logo also ties the logo refresh back to our old logos.”
This is a more obvious partnership, what benefit does having Life Water IQ as a division have on Life Landscapes?
“Up until November last year (2015), all the gardens Life Landscapes maintained were severely impacted by the drought, except the indigenous ones. I don’t believe this is the end of water problems in South Africa, in fact I think it is the beginning. So in a continuation of the water crisis we are now offering grey water recycling and rain water harvesting not only for garden irrigation but for toilets too, through Life Water IQ.
The harvesting of rain water and the converting of grey water to irrigation water are aspects we find essential, when it comes to gardening in a drying country. When it comes to water recycling it’s not only about bettering the environment, it’s also about risk, which is something property owners have to understand.”
What services of Life & Earth benefit Life Landscapes?
“Life & Earth is the most obvious alliance for Life Landscapes. We have been managing compost heaps on landscaping sites for years- turning green waste into compost and returning it in a composted form back to the garden.
Life & Earth has taken this one step further we can now compost wet waste from kitchens, canteens and restaurants using various models depending on the client. Food waste is very high in nutrients and good microbes and when composted it is gold for gardeners. We can now also speed up the composting process by half using in-vessel composting machines.
Composting on-site not only reduces waste removal costs, it reduces a company’s carbon footprint. Firstly because the waste is not transported away from the landscaping site and you are making your own compost and fertiliser on-site, and secondly you have not put methane-producing food waste into landfills.”
How has these new service offering shaped the future for landscaping, as an industry?
“It is incumbent on all specialist landscaping companies to ensure that offer broad-based services and effective landscaping solutions to clients because landscaping is so dependent on climate and climate change. To compete with multi-service companies in a market dictated to by price and, discounts for group services, requires a high level of skill and expertise, which I feel Life Landscapes and Life Green Group has.
You need to look at landscaping as ‘complex system’ outdoor landscapes and gardens interact with the weather, climate, urban wildlife and people so you cannot just offer landscape maintenance services and only mow lawns and plant seasonal flowers.
Definitions of a complex system: A complex system is an approach to science that investigates how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviours of a system and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.
All the new services Life Green Group now offers: Grey water, smoking solutions and food waste recycling can be seen as an extension of a garden landscape. If we feel a service can improve or ‘green’ our landscaping services or touches the garden or plants, we’re interested.”
Where is the future of landscaping heading? Do you think this is it?
“Water issues are going to get worse in South Africa and landscapers are going to have become more innovative and environmentally aware. Life Landscape is already pushing clients toward regionally present planting palettes. This saves the client money on water and mowing and these gardens generally look better in times of drought. Indigenous plants also aid urban wildlife, which is something very important to me, being an animal lover and conservationist.”
Does it make Life Green Group a Facility Management Company?
Life Green Group is the holding company for all the divisions, including Life Landscapes. And no, Life Green Group is not, and does not aspire to be a facility management company. We believe you cannot put landscaping in a multi-service discipline company and like I said before we are only interested in services that are extensions of the garden.
We aim to cater our gardening services to suit facility management companies not to become one. The nature of gardening dictates you be creative and forward-planning, unlike security or hygiene. Ironically, if you take on the group’s service (interior plantscaping, landscaping, sports facility construction and all the new services), as a FM company, we are able to offer a much more cost effective and wholesome service.
What is the next step for Life Green Group and Life Landscapes?
Next step is to consolidate our position in the market as a multi-service green solutions company and to keep educating our industry. We have recently acquired a branch in Cape Town which is blossoming; and we are looking for the correct opportunities outside South African borders, namely in SADC.