November 1, 2016
Phil Paxton
Phil Paxton

The newly-launched Canadian Landscape Standard:

Power tool


IF I COULD PROMOTE one clear message to Canada’s landscape industry, it would be to embrace and use the Canadian Landscape Standard. If you have only one document to take down from the shelf, this one will set you apart.

The Standard finally provides our industry with exactly what it says: a benchmark or baseline on measurable expectations for landscape specs. And it works right across Canada.

The British Columbia Landscape Nursery Association (BCLNA) and British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA) initially cooperated on a detailed standards document, which has been in place about 15 years. Through my work representing contractors in CNLA’s Landscape Canada group, we asked a question: Can we nationalize the standard?

So committee members from BCLNA, Landscape Canada, BCSLA and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects met in Whistler, B.C., about two years ago to draft a new national Standard. It was gratifying to be part of this great cooperative story, and we are proud of the resulting document.

I heartily encourage all contractors to use the Standard, and benefit from its substantial business advantages. Use the Standard when specifying, and cite the Standard in your contracts. It will enhance your credibility and profile. This is especially valuable for smaller contractors — 80 per cent of our companies have five employees or fewer. Using the Standard backs up your professional stature.

You might ask, will endorsing the Standard mean anything to your customers? You bet it will! These days, customers have access to so much information on the web — much of it is rubbish. If they are looking for a low-cost provider, you need not worry about differentiation. But if you are committed to profitability, you must implement a differentiation strategy based on credentials such as certification, association membership and company accreditation. Plus, you must have quality contracts — backed up by the authority of the Canadian Landscape Standard.

As I look back on the experience of drafting the document, I am so pleased to have been part of an effort where contractors and landscape architects came together from all regions of Canada, to strategically move forward in one direction, as one industry.   
Phil Paxton is a 37-year veteran of the landscape industry. He operates Alpha Better Landscaping and Wheatland Trees, based in Calgary, Alta. Paxton’s volunteer credentials are extensive, and he currently serves as chair of CNLA’s Climate Change Taskforce. To order the Standard, visit