With landscaping being an ever-evolving field, adaptability is a critical skill set that will make future hires valuable in the next five to 10 years. At Utopian Landscapes LLC in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the company looks for future leaders who value innovation and are willing to adapt to change, says Terra Phelps, co-owner. As an innovative company, their focus is always on moving forward and they seek out employees who will help prevent them from ever becoming stagnant.

“With a constantly changing landscape, we need employees who are flexible and willing to learn new technologies, processes and products,” Phelps says, adding that a major company goal is for employees to stay on for the long haul.

“Our goal is to be a company that employees can retire from,” Phelps says. “We want to have a range of positions that offer options for all skill sets and age groups.”

Nick Nykorczuk, president of Creative Pavers Inc., a design/build landscaping firm in Gibbstown, New Jersey, agrees that adaptability is key as changes are certainly on the horizon. He currently sees two trends shaping up in the green industry that will play a dramatic role in the next decade. The first trend, stormwater management, is already underway.

“Whether it’s a residential backyard or a public park, attention is being paid to the overall impervious ground coverage and how it affects the surrounding environment, more than ever,” Nykorczuk says. “Increasing regulations and guidelines being put in place to account for the potential water run-off is driving the industry to adapt toward designing and creating a sustainable landscape plan. I feel that being well-versed in the different solutions and staying up to date with new processes will allow you to separate yourself within this area of expertise.”

The second trend that Nykorczuk sees growing is the use of computers and technology in landscape sales. The market is moving toward three-dimensional design views – so much so that it’s already becoming a client expectation. Nykorczuk says that in the next five to 10 years it will be necessary for future landscape professionals to have mastered software and computer skills in order to provide 3-D presentations to clients and to sell projects.

There’s no doubt that computers are changing the green industry. And just like other industries, technology and automation are also driving companies and individuals to become more efficient. While technology is helping make daily tasks easier, Nykorczuk says it can also apply added pressure. There are higher expectations to complete tasks faster and to remain more accessible through communication forms like email or text messaging. In this changing work environment, Nykorczuk says that future hires must be able to budget their time well and keep up with these demands.

“Independence is being stressed more and more as a skill set, and future jobs will be more reliant on self-motivated individuals to lead the way,” he says. “Current and future employees will be asked to perform more tasks and take on more responsibilities in the roles that they play. New hires will need to find ways to make their strengths fit their employer, being as much of a team player as possible.”