How will climate change affect landscaping businesses?

20 Sept 2023 Landscaping & Turfcare
How will climate change affect landscaping businesses?

Another scorching summer in most of Europe – and a rather wet one for the rest – has once again created a tumultuous season for the landscaping industry. And while this season's dramatic droughts and rainfall can be partly attributed to the temporary El Niño weather phenomenon, we're all aware that climate change is creating a rather more permanent shift towards extreme weather.

So how can you prepare for weather events once considered extreme to become entirely expected, and what can you do to help mitigate your impact on the environment? We take a look at some simple steps you can take to protect your business and the environment around you.

How does climate change impact landscaping?

Anything that has a noticeable impact on the environment is inevitably going to have consequences for the landscaping services industry. Rising temperatures across the world are set to change the way landscapers work.

These are the effects of climate change you can expect to see more regularly:

  • Extreme weather – intense heat causing long droughts, sudden heavy rainfall and harsh cold snaps are all likely to increase going forward.
  • Pests and diseases – as temperatures rise, expect pests and diseases to migrate from warmer climates, bringing new challenges for landscapers.
  • Shifting seasons – you may have to adjust your maintenance schedule, as spring and grass growth moves earlier and summer extends into winter, potentially lengthening the growing season.

How to protect your business

So what can you do to prepare? Here are a handful of things you can do to mitigate risk and protect your business:

  • Drought-resistant planting – as temperatures rise, you can switch to hardy varieties that can survive in high temperatures. Warm season grasses and plants resistant to drought won't wilt in the heat of summer: expect to see more varieties introduced as heat becomes a persistent issue.
  • Adapt your schedule – staying alert to seasonal shifts, like a short winter, will help you stay on top of your lawn care schedule.
  • Incorporate other work – depending on market size and competition in your local area, there may be opportunities to expand your business into hard landscaping or other services, protecting your income in severe drought.
  • Invest in reliable machinery – extreme heat is more demanding on your equipment, so if you don't want to deal with unnecessary downtime, invest in machinery known for reliability; like those Powered by Kawasaki.
  • Learn how to combat pests and diseases – reading up on the pests and diseases likely to migrate to your country will provide a competitive advantage and ensure you're fully prepared.
  • Consider your own wellbeing – you are your business in this industry, and working in intense heat isn't healthy; looking after your physical and mental health is incredibly important.

How to start reducing your environmental impact

Change doesn't happen overnight, but small steps in the right direction can help. Becoming more environmentally friendly doesn't need to mean investing tens of thousands into purchasing a whole new set of equipment: for most people, this is beyond what is feasible for their business.

While incorporating electrical-powered equipment into parts of your kit can certainly help reduce your individual emissions, there are other considerations. Corded solutions require mains power near the job, and while battery adds convenience, there are cost and disposal issues to weigh up.

For more intensive mowing, there are currently few cost-effective alternative power options. In large-scale commercial turfcare, petrol or diesel internal combustion engines are still the solution able to provide the required power over extended operating hours.

Although a truly carbon neutral solution for machinery across the landscaping industry is yet to be defined, significant strides continue to be made. We're already seeing advancements in electrical battery technology and through the development of internal combustion engines using alternative fuels, including biofuels, hydrogen-based e-fuels and even hydrogen itself.

Despite this, there are still small ways you can mitigate your impact now, without great expense, even if you have power-intensive landscaping requirements. These are a handful of changes you can make to start reducing your environmental impact:

  • Reduce chemical usage – in landscaping, chemicals are used more than perhaps they need to be. Choose eco-friendly alternatives and prevent harsh chemicals from harming local wildlife.
  • Consolidate journeys – planning your work routes to avoid more time on the road is a great example of an environmentally friendly change that will benefit your own wellbeing.
  • Encourage customers to install water butts – don't be afraid to suggest to your customers that they should install a water butt in their garden, it will help reduce water usage.
  • Incorporate rewilding – trends like rewilding are great for the environment, help native plants to thrive, and are easy to incorporate into gardens; you can keep the wild growth to just flower beds or one or two corners of the garden if necessary!
  • Use efficient equipment – Kawasaki engines are designed to be low emission and are compliant with stringent EU regulations.
  • Don't leave the mower running – small actions soon add up; switch off the engine when not in use or between jobs to avoid unnecessary emissions.
  • Keep on top of machinery maintenance - things like fresh fuel, maintenance of oil, air and fuel filters, sharp blades and even tyre pressures can dramatically affect fuel economy. Regular servicing according to your owner’s manual is vital. If in doubt, always contact your local dealer.

Protecting your business in the landscaping services industry

As we see the average temperature rise year after year, it's important to prepare for the future. It's impossible to avoid talk of climate change in the landscaping industry; it shouldn't be ignored in any case, as you need to keep up to date and aware to protect your business.

Preparing your business and mitigating your impact doesn't need to be a huge, expensive change. Many professionals need a power level from their equipment that is hard to find with a battery; by making small changes, you can start on the path to becoming more sustainable without sacrificing the viability of your business.

To stay informed on the latest industry news and developments in engine technology, sign up to the Kawasaki Engines newsletter at the bottom of this page.