Fire resistant plants
A priority for homeowners is to feel safe in their homes. They may think about fire hazards and risks inside the home but could potentially forget to think about the risk outside their home. Landscapers can reduce this risk by considering fire-resistant plants and landscaping materials when sourcing supplies, especially for properties close to forests or bush. Fire Emergency NZ has laid out a list of plants that can reduce fire risk.
Potential health risks
Like everything, there are some health risks involved when using organic materials. These include unwelcome organisms such as tetanus and Legionnaires disease. Legionnaires disease is a naturally occurring organism and not solely in any one brand or type of mulch, compost, or potting mix. It can be present in home composting bins, common brands sold in retail outlets, and bulk supplies sold through landscape yards. While it is rare and healthy landscapers can become immune, precautions can be taken for those with low immunity or chronic illness, and smokers.
- Minimise the amount of dust when working in the garden
- Educate homeowners on using a gentle spray when watering
- Understand the cautions and warnings labeled on products
- Wear gloves when handling mulch, compost, and potting mix
- If concerned, wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling dust
- Open bags of mulch, compost, and potting mix slowly and away from the face
- Dampen mulch, compost, and potting mixes before use
- Make sure the working area is well ventilated
- See your doctor immediately if you develop a flu-like illness that is worsening (antibiotics are effective against legionnaires disease if given early)
- Carefully clean and cover cuts or scratches
- Always wash your hands well after gardening
Please review the most current and relevant information on minimising the risk of Legionnaires disease on the WorkSafe NZ website.
Design a dog safe environment
Lots of homeowners have animals that regularly spend time in the yard. Putting attention to designing environments that are safe for the entire family will put you above the competition. It can also be helpful to understand any concerns the homeowner has with their particular animal, for example, if there are health or other issues that could impact some of the design features of the landscape environment.
- Source plants that are safe and not toxic for animals
- Some dogs are difficult with strangers, think about privacy and screening
- Plant durable grasses and shrubs
- Plant flora that creates a calming environment for both humans and animals, including lavender and rosemary
- SPCA list of toxic plants to animals
Finding and reporting pests
The New Zealand government has strict regulations and requirements when it comes to protecting New Zealand’s natural environment, which can put a lot of pressure on landscapers. It’s important to understand what teams can do to reduce the risk of a biosecurity threat. MPI has put together a list of precautions when gardening. You can find more details on the list below by visiting the MPI website.
- Be familiar with types of weeds
- Control weeds in your garden
- Know about “unwanted organisms” and the rules around plants in that category
- Dispose of green waste properly
- Don’t import plants and seeds (unless you’re a seed importer)
- Keep a lookout for pests
Overall health and safety
It’s not only important to consider the above but to also consider the overall health and safety of the team. Managers can take simple approaches to control and reduce the risk that doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Here are some best-practice methods to take to reduce the risk for the overall needs of the business.
- Encourage your entire team to get behind health and safety
- If the team is involved in managing risk, the more potential it has to be managed
- Think and talk about the risks with your team on a regular basis
- Stay attentive to ensure everyone understands the risks; how the environment can have an impact, the change in seasons, or even personal or physical limitations