DESIGN + BUILD + MAINTAIN RECRUITING YOUNGER
BEAT THE HEAT
A CLOSER LOOK
The next generation’s impact on the industry
Powering through hot summer days
Raising the standard for tree growth
Using little details to create big memories
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W E LCO M E Businesses throughout the south are working with new clients who want to spend more time in nature, but many are running into the same problem: finding staff. We talk to industry leaders about how they are recruiting and retaining employees to help meet the growing client demand. The National Association of Landscape Professionals leaders also explain what they are doing to develop the workforce of the future. Warm temperatures mean active weather in the south. Tornados, thunderstorms, and hurricanes are all expected for several months, and the threat of tree damage looms. Florida grower John Conroy explains a set of guidelines horticulturists should follow to ensure trees can hold up in extreme weather, and ultimately save lives. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and share your ideas and stories with us. We would love to hear from you!
Angelique Robb Managing director email@example.com Mary Kate Carson Production Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
©Zac Seewald Photographer / HJT Landscape Architects
ll eyes are on the outdoors this summer and the landscape industry is booming with opportunity. A busy spring geared us up for the warmer months. We are so thankful for those who contributed, advertised, and read our May/June issue! We were so busy in fact, that our team grew. Pro Landscaper USA South added a new editor, Mary Kate Carson, to help with our expansion plans for the remaining regions of the USA. This will help us reach our goal of uniting the design, build, and maintain sectors of the industry. In our July/August issue, be inspired by an innovative smart park that offers an outdoor working space for hundreds of its neighbors and uses new technology to independently maintain itself. Another project creates a wide range of outdoor amenities to hundreds of people in Florida. Parks, pools, sporting fields, and dog areas are just a few spaces the architectural team managed to incorporate into a complex apartment development.
RESIDENTIAL PROJECT BY HJT LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS, SUGAR LAND, TEXAS
COVERING: TEXAS, OKLAHOMA, LOUISIANA, ARK ANSAS, MISSISSIPPI, TENNESSEE, ALABAMA, GEORGIA, FLORIDA, NORTH CAROLINA, SOUTH CAROLINA, VIRGINIA AND KENTUCKY
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
10 12 13 15 16 19
Agenda What are ways to grow and develop the industry workforce? News The industry’s biggest news and events
Making a Mark Anji Connell discusses personalised sculpture art Next Level Landscape Design Workshop Smart City, Smart Park James Corner Field Operations
Home Sweet Home HJT Landscape Architects
The Heat is On Brooke Inzerella, Horticare Landscape Managing Generational Diversity Deborah Cole Sourcing Seasonal Staff Douglas Conley, Visa assistant officer Let’s Hear it From Jennifer Myers, National Association of Landscape Professionals Company Profile Modern Environment, Oklahoma City, OK
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
NURTURE 39 43
Nursery Focus Thunderwood Farms Industry Insights With John Conroy Florida Grades and Standards for nursery plants
J U LY/AU G U ST 2 0 2 1 E D U C AT E 46 48
GIE + EXPO: An Unmissable Event Kris Kiser Digital Recruiting Rudy Hettrick
24 JULY/AUGUST 2021
Little Interviews Five voices of the industry
DESIGN + BUILD + MAINTAIN RECRUITING YOUNGER
BEAT THE HEAT
A CLOSER LOOK
The next generation’s impact on the industry
Powering through hot summer days
Raising the standard for tree growth
Using little details to create big memories
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
CO N T R I B U TO R S P12
Brooke Inzerella is a licensed landscape horticulturist and owner of Horticare Landscape Company in Louisiana. As one of the area’s leading landscape companies, Horticare Landscape Company is known for superior service, swimming pools, landscaping and outdoor living spaces.
As the founder and president of a successful commercial landscape firm with multiple locations throughout Texas, Deborah Cole has learned the importance of communication through images as well as words. She now devotes herself full time to photography, writing, marketing and training.
Douglas Conley is the chief compliance officer for Action Visas Assistance in Plano, Texas. He serves as an agent for H2-A and H2-B program employers, helping qualifying employers apply for and process employees. He also processes permanent residency and DACA applications.
John Conroy is president, founder and owner of Fish Branch Tree Farm, a family-run company. In 2019, FNGLA awarded him Educator of the Year for his work on the state’s grading process, dynamic curriculum for landscape architects and contribution to the Department of Transportation.
Kris Kiser is the president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, an international trade association representing more than 100 manufacturers and suppliers. It serves as the managing partner of GIE+EXPO and the creative force behind The TurfMutt Foundation.
Rudy Hettrick manages Landscape Marketers, a digital marketing agency exclusively for companies in the industry. Rudy manages marketing campaigns for companies, ranging in size from $500K to $3M in yearly revenue. He also hosts online advisory tutorials and seminars.
CONTACT Pro Landscaper USA South 109 S. Lemans St. Lafayette, LA 70503
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Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
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Pro Landscaper USA South is published six times a year and distributed to 5,000 qualified members of the green industry. Postmaster: Send address changes to 109 S. Lemans St., Lafayette, LA 70503. Pro Landscaper USA South verifies information as much as possible. The views expressed by editorial contributors and the products advertised herein are not necessarily endorsements of the publishers. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly forbidden.
Jim Wilkinson firstname.lastname@example.org Head of content Nina Mason Designer Kara Thomas Subeditors Sam Seaton Katrina Roy
Cover image: West End Square by James Corner Field Operations ©Sam Oberter Photography
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WHAT ARE WAYS TO GROW AND DEVELOP THE INDUSTRY WORKFORCE?
housands of companies across the United States are struggling to find, hire and keep employees on the job. The landscape industry has been hit especially hard as more people are investing in outdoor spaces. There are solutions for businesses needing to boost their workforce to respond to the increasing client demands. These leaders in the landscape industry offer their advice.
Pam Dooley PLANTS CRE ATIVE LANDSCAPES, DECATUR, GEORGIA
Billy Van EAton
CEO, CUMBERL AND L ANDSCAPE GROUP, ATL ANTA, GEORGIA
CO-OWNER /OPERATIONS OF URBAN SOIL LLC. SAN ANTONIO, TEX AS
Labor really needs to be solved with a long-term mindset. I think culture is one of the biggest items that will either build or bust a company’s labor, and we have built a culture that is fun, exciting, supportive, and diverse. It has taken a lot of time and resources to create this. We also like to give people opportunities to grow, and we try to have very competitive, trackable and attainable incentive compensation plans.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
Employees want to know there is direction, growth, and opportunity for advancement or movement into something else. Safety is also a big component. What we do can be dangerous and we have a great safety record. We also are on the high end of the pay scale, and the lowest guy on the crew is eligible for full medical, dental, vision, paid time off – that kind of thing. I really believe that if we take good care of people, they will take good care of us.
Recruiting plans are as important as operating budgets; developing both short-term and long-term strategies, and sticking to them, is critical. For developing, the NALP offers affordable certification programs for people to upskill in the green industry. Local green industry associations and trade schools also offer courses. There is also an abundance of low cost, or free, online learning platforms. Combining these learning resources with in-house training, and celebrating the people who commit to growing themselves (bonuses, job advancement), creates positive momentum – and retention – for business owners. We offer a learning budget for various positions in the company, reimbursing our team for completed courses.
Alexander Ewing Mednick
DIRECTOR OF RESOURCES, THE MEDNICK L ANDSCAPE CO., LLC. PALM CIT Y, FLORIDA
CHAIRMAN & CEO AT OUTDOOR LIVING BRANDS, INC. RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
My best advice I give to others is to treat the guys you already have as family. By treating them as well as you would like for yourself, you are planting seeds in a community. Instead of employees complaining about work to their friends, they will brag about paid time off, and their friends will be listening for when openings are available as a result.
Never underestimate the power of an attractive culture in your organization. Fostering a culture of employee growth, recognition, development, innovation, empowerment, accountability, and fun can bind the team to the company far better than compensation alone. This will be the reason they recruit new team members.
There are so many opportunities in so many areas. No matter how you define success, you can find it in the landscape industry. “To enrich the lives of others” is my definition as well as our company’s vision statement. The thing that would make the industry better would be to have more people in it, and to educate the younger generation on how great our industry is.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGIA GREEN INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
CHAIRMAN AND CEO, GSKY PLANT SYSTEMS, INC. DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA
When searching to fill a spot on your team, try to keep an open mind about where you may find your next team member. Don’t abandon the methods that have been working but invest a portion of your budget and time in investigating alternative ways of reaching potential employees and alternative labor pools.
It is complicated today because of unemployment pay, construction pay, and many businesses coming back looking for people so rates can get more than just competitive. But in my experience, the obvious things work. When you find good people, treat them well, pay competitive rates, work to make them feel part of something.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT, SPSD, INC. ARLINGTON, TEX AS
Mike Mason PRESIDENT, THE LAWN PRO LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
We work hard to make sure our employees are happy with the work they are doing and that they know we care about them as people. We rely heavily on our current employees in the recruiting process. Everyone wants to work with people they know and like so that is where we start – asking for referrals from them.
COMING UP: HOW DO YOU USE TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE BUSINESS OPERATIONS? E-MAIL OUR EDITOR MARY K ATE CARSON AT MARYK ATE.CARSON@EL JAYS44.COM TO BE INCLUDED IN OUR NE XT ISSUE
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
PUSHING OUT PL ASTIC POTS
R I S E O F R O B OT I C S
STIHL based on research findings by the Virginia Tech Turfgrass Research Center, the machines save time and money without sacrificing the quality and health of a lawn. The study shows it only costs about $41 for the machines to mow each acre during the growing season, significantly less than the price of gasoline and labor. The use of robotic devices is controversial but could help companies struggling to find maintenance staff. www.stihlusa.com
he APLD wants to end the industry’s heavy reliance on horticultural plastics. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers published a white paper last summer which analyzed the environmental consequences of the plastic pots used to grow, ship, and sell plant material. The study found that 95 to 98% of pots end up in a landfill. Now, the APLD is using a new initiative, called “Healthy Pots, Healthy Planet”, to push horticulturists to stop using these plastics. APLD leaders say specialists in an industry that embraces the natural world should find sustainable alternatives. Dozens of businesses and their leaders have already committed to the change, and the APLD will provide resources to business leaders wanting to do the same. www.apld.org
bringing awareness to this issue. Crews can check decks as they spend time outside homes and businesses, and remind clients to invest in deck inspection, construction, stability, and longevity. The association offers an array of tools to help professionals and consumers check their decks and connect with building professionals who can identify and remedy potential problems. Go through the NADRA’s 10-point checklist for safety, and remember
to tell friends and clients to check their decks when gathering this summer. www.nadra.org
obotic mowers could be a solution to workforce shortages. Robotic mowers are autonomous devices, controlled through smartphones or websites. They use sensors to navigate terrain and obstacles, can work in most weather conditions, and connect to chargers on their own. Robotic mowers are a substitute for conventional gas-powered mowers and, according to a study released by
CHECK THE DECK
dozen people were hurt in deck collapses this spring, and more people are at risk. At least half of the 60 million decks in the U.S. are outdated and need repairs, which is why the North American Deck and Railing Association is bringing attention to the dangers of failing decks. Association leaders say homeowners must have their decks inspected often to verify the decks integrity and safety, extend its life-span, improve appearance, and increase livability. NADRA leaders say landscape professionals play a key role in
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
SPOTLIGHT ON THE SOUTH
he World Landscape Architecture media group announced the 2021 professional award winners, and a Houston site made the list. The group handed Design Workshop a merit award for its Midtown Park project. The team took an inhospitable six-acre downtown block and transformed it into a walkable, sustainable, and entertaining public space. Revitalizing this area is a part of an effort to redevelop the city with the belief that high-quality public spaces create successful, livable cities. The WLA received
more than 400 high quality entries from projects around the world. Many winners are located in Asia and the United Kingdom. Another Design Worship project in Austin, Texas made the award shortlist, as well as another Houston park designed by OBJ Architecture Firm. WLA organized a panel of judges to pick the winners, which included industry leaders like Christopher Fannin, the managing director of the ASLA, and directors of world renown landscape architecture firms. www.worldlandscapearchitect.com
TEAMING UP TO REACH OUT
SAVE THE DATE Texas Nursery and Landscape Association Expo returns for 2021 The event will happen at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Landscapers can network with thousands of peers and suppliers to find new perspectives and inspiration. The Nursery/Landscape Expo runs from August 5 to 7.
Florida Nursery, Growers, Landscape Association hosts The Landscape Show 7,000+ professionals will network with and learn from each other, while testing the newest innovations in the industry. New equipment, hardgoods, plants, and services will be showcased. Pros can also attend workshops through the weekend. It will happen at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, from August 25 to 27. Organizers call this year’s theme more relevant than ever – Together Again!
Georgia Green Industry Association plans WINTERGREEN
andscape Professionals have a new way to change and shape their communities. Landscaping businesses across the country are partnering with non-profit organizations and mission teams through various outreach programs. The effort is called the “industry collective”, and 25 companies, across 99 locations, in 22 states are already
joining in. The industry collective worked on the first impact initiative in June, handing out hundreds of hygiene packages to homeless and children’s shelters. A list of companies involved, and details on how to join the effort can be found online. www.rhinoimpactgroup.com/ industrycollective
The association’s premiere event will take place at the beginning of 2022, at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. More than 3,000 people will attend the trade show and conference. A wide range of workshops will be available, focusing on everything from landscape and turf maintenance to nursery production; 250+ booths equipment and supplier booths will also be on display. WINTERGREEN is set for January 18 to 20.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
BROOKE INZERELLA THE HEAT IS ON
BROOKE INZERELLA SHARES HOW TO STAY SAFE DURING HOT SUMMER DAYS
ooking out of my window as I write this column in mid-May, there is a torrential downpour outside. It’s been raining all week in southern Louisiana, dramatically slowing business operations. It’s frustrating knowing that crews can’t work at maximum capacity despite having so many projects on the books. Sometimes the only thing you can do is have patience and plan ways to work “with” Mother Nature and not against her. We know what’s in store for the south: the unrelenting heat and humidity of summer! While I can’t control the weather, I do have a few tricks to mitigate the effects of extreme heat. Early on in my career, I noticed that plants and shrubs waiting to be planted at the job site would begin to show signs of stress within a very short window during times of extreme heat. To help fight the heat stress we purchased a few inexpensive, portable beach tents for each crew. Now, it’s a non-negotiable for the crew to pop a few tents when they arrive onsite, and all greenery must stay under the tents until they are planted.
We all know it’s imperative to thoroughly water newly planted shrubs and flowers, and we normally do this when we’ve completed the job. But when we have extreme heat and humidity, we implement an “Every 15” rule. Instead of watering everything when the job is complete, the team stops to thoroughly water after placing every 15th plant. We also do a thorough final watering before leaving the job site.
I CONSTANTLY REMIND MY TEAM TO HYDRATE AND TAKE MORE SMALL BREAKS THAN USUAL TO COOL THE BODY DOWN We always have plenty of water and sports drinks in our vehicles. During extremely hot days though, we ensure there is plenty of Florida water and rags. Each individual has their own set up, and I constantly remind my team to hydrate and take more small breaks than usual to cool the body down. We add lighter shirts in the summer with wicking fabric into our uniform mix, and even discuss symptoms of heat stroke. My team leaders know I take this subject very seriously.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
Speaking of more breaks than usual, I account for this in my labor estimate for summer jobs. The team will operate a little less efficiently during these months, and although I can’t always tell clients exactly when every project will be ready, it’s still top of mind. The bottomline: Have patience! The type of work we do is very labor intensive—it’s hard work even on cool, breezy, 70° days with no humidity. Battling the heat and humidity makes it a lot harder and will likely be less efficient and productive overall. I know that our productivity will improve once the heat begins to subside in late September. As an owner and leader, it’s my responsibility to continually communicate that the health and safety of our employees is the most important thing.
ABOUT BROOKE INZERELLA Brooke Inzerella is a licensed landscape horticulturist and owner of Horticare Landscape Company in Lafayette, Louisiana.
DEBORAH COLE MANAGING GENERATIONAL DIVERSITY
HOW CAN WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER ACROSS THE GENERATIONAL DIVIDE? ASKS DEBORAH COLE
©Neal Glatt with GrowTheBench.com
e believe we are in the green industry where we grow materials, or design, install, and manage landscapes. We are actually in the people business. We are people centric. This means it is an absolute necessity that we understand the people with whom we work, building relationships inside our companies and with the customers we serve. How do we foster healthy and productive relationships? We communicate. I don’t know about you, but in my horticultural education in college or on the job, I never had a class in people, communication or leadership. Realizing that these competences were just as important as plant knowledge was eye-opening. As our industry grows, we find that the workforce
Debby Cole.indd 13
(and our client base) may cover ages from 18 to 80. It has been identified by social scientists that there is a wide range of communication styles across these generations. Not only do generations communicate differently, but styles of leadership and learning, longevity within the company, and problem solving can all differ radically. There are five age groups that have been identified, along with their communication and leadership “styles.” These identified birth years are: Traditional (1925 to 1945), Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964), Gen X (1965 to 1979), Millennials (1980 to 1994) and Gen Z (1995 to the present day). Companies may include staff or clients from every one of these groups. It is critical to understand how each group gives and receives information and learns. We have all experienced frustration with sending emails/ texts and receiving zero response. Why? Why do some of our customers only want personal phone calls and refuse to use technology to communicate? We may have repeatedly explained or taught concepts, and do not understand why the team member doesn’t “get it.” Or struggle to understand the job hopping that happens all too often. Why can’t someone who is hired just stick with the job? Why do they change jobs every year or so? Others find it hard to believe people can tolerate one job for decades.
As owners or supervisors, we may not understand why those in the younger age
IT IS AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY THAT WE UNDERSTAND THE PEOPLE WITH WHOM WE WORK, BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS INSIDE OUR COMPANIES AND WITH THE CUSTOMERS WE SERVE groups seem to want constant feedback or praise. And then there is the struggle with change. Change is a way of life. Why are some people comfortable with change and/or new technology and others are not? The first steps are acknowledging that there are significant differences between generations and becoming aware of how we can adapt. As leaders in our industry, we must learn to be flexible in our expectations of others whether they are staff or customers, and in our generation or another.
ABOUT DEBORAH COLE Deborah Cole is the founder of a commercial landscape firm with multiple locations throughout Texas. She now devotes herself full-time to photography, writing, marketing and training.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 13
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DOUGLAS CONLEY SOURCING SEASONAL STAFF
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WILL APPROVE EXTRA MIGRANT VISAS, BUT THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE FIRST OPTION FOR BUSINESS SEEKING SEASONAL WORKERS, EXPLAINS DOUGLAS CONLEY
he H-2B Temporary NonAgricultural Worker program serves a conglomeration of industries who need seasonal workers; hospitality, landscaping, construction, demolition – anything that may have a temporary need, ranging from a few weeks to nine months. The visas are non-immigration, meaning workers have to return home at the end of the job. The only exception is if they are offered another job from a qualified company. The Department of Homeland Security is approving 22,000 more H-2B visas this year to help companies who cannot hire American workers. Despite a 14.7% unemployment rate in 2020, the DHS received nearly 100,000 migrant worker requests by mid-March. The program typically caps out at 66,000 over the course of an entire fiscal year. The increase is a response to the high number of requests. When lawmakers announced the decision in April, they were still working to outline the process businesses will take to connect to migrant employees. Specific rules for applying for H2-B workers are typically published on the federal register, but rules could change due to the high demand. What we can count on, though, is it will be an expensive, cumbersome process. I don’t know any
employers who would even touch this program if they could hire and retain enough local labor. There is a lot of fine print, a lot of hard paperwork, and there will be many government agencies examining business
THERE IS A LOT OF FINE PRINT, A LOT OF HARD PAPERWORK, AND THERE WILL BE MANY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES EXAMINING BUSINESS OWNERS WHO APPLY owners who apply. Businesses applying for the extra visas may even have to meet additional requirements and there could be more workers rights regulations. We need to do a better job at educating people of the real purpose of this program, which is protecting U.S. worker’s rights. It is not the cheap labor program that many people see. Just to apply, employers must prove that they exhausted efforts to recruit and hire American employees and
prove their need for temporary or seasonal labor. They also must ensure that foreign workers will positively affect the pay and working conditions of American employees on the team. That is the point of the whole program – to give American employers and employees any extra support needed during tough times. Migrant workers help keep businesses afloat so companies can grow, expand, and eventually manage the demands independently. There are too many reports of fraud painting a bad picture, and keeping lawabiding employers from accessing a legal workforce. The programs can be a good thing when properly managed and the rules are enforced. The program is a fallback option, but business owners should do anything possible to attract and retain local workers. A good labor force is one of your biggest assets if you can keep them, counsel them, support them, and help them grow. If you can’t, then consider the program.
ABOUT DOUGLAS CONLEY Douglas Conley is the chief compliance officer for Action Visas Assistance in Plano, Texas. He serves as an agent for H2-A and H2-B program employers, helping qualifying employers apply for and process employees. He also processes permanent residency and DACA applications.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 15
Let ’s Hear it From
JENNIFER MYERS NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONALS (NALP) JENNIFER MYERS, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT WITH THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONALS, EXPLAINS HER ROLE IN BRINGING NEW FACES TO THE INDUSTRY
How did you start working with landscapers? I started out working as the recruiting director for a large, full-service landscape contracting company. Then I worked as a recruiting consultant for different landscape contractors throughout the country, sourcing candidates for full-time positions. I also traveled to colleges and universities on behalf of the groups. I liked working with companies from different parts of the country because I talked to a wide variety of people. Eventually I wanted to lead national efforts and was lucky to create an opportunity with the NALP.
Why did you pick the landscaping industry as a career? Growing up, my dad’s hobby was propagating, growing, and selling azaleas. I helped him, begrudgingly, for many years.
I remember wanting chores that seemed more feminine, like laundry or dishes, but planting and pruning was my chore. During my college years I needed a summer job, and my dad suggested applying at a local nursery. I applied and was hired to unload trucks but moved to the sales floor in just a month. I enjoyed selling annuals, perennials, and ornamental grasses, and even took a horticulture class the next semester at Virginia Tech. I ended up loving it and added Horticulture as a second degree (my other was Environmental Science). I continued working at the nursery during the summer and interned with the landscape contractor who hired me as recruiting director after graduation. So, the job just kind of found me, at my dad‘s recommendation! When did you begin working with the NALP? While studying horticulture at Virginia Tech I went to student career days and got involved
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
in what is now the group’s National Collegiate Landscape Competition. As I got into my career, I participated in volunteer leadership,
ran different committees and eventually became a chairperson for the association. I also attended renewal and remembrance events, national landscape conventions, and about four years ago decided I wanted a full-time career with the association. Luckily, my expertise in workforce development matched the NALP’S growing focus in that area.
Describe your role. I manage the National Collegiate Landscape Competition and I am the primary relationship holder with all of our colleges and student chapter members. I also reach out to those who have not yet found the industry, mainly middle and high schoolers, career changers, and the public in general. We began recruiting efforts in grade schools about four years ago. Our goal is to educate and help them understand that our industry is
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE NATIONAL COLLEGIATE LANDSCAPE COMPETITION AT COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
SOME EDUCATORS DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER LANDSCAPING A LEGITIMATE CAREER. WE’RE FIGHTING THAT PERCEPTION. WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY AND HAVE AWESOME RESOURCES AND RESULTS TO SHOW FROM IT a professional industry, made up of educated, dedicated, and hard-working individuals. High school teachers often tell me they have students who are perfect for landscaping careers because they like the outdoors and would enjoy the science, technology, and math involved. Why focus on younger students? Other trades have been recruiting at these levels for a long time, and many high schoolers are encouraged to launch careers in things like plumbing or electrics. Some educators do not even consider landscaping a legitimate career. We’re fighting that perception. We have come a long way and have awesome resources and results to show from it. It is a long game and really requires all of our members to care about getting the message out. Why do people have a negative perception toward a landscaping career? We are in an industry that is very visible to the average person, particularly homeowners. They see people doing the work, and assume
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
it is not hard. A lot of homeowners even do landscape work themselves, whether it’s mowing the grass or doing small or large installs. There is a big difference, though, between what the average person does in their yard and what landscape professionals do, and we all must educate clients about the specialized education and training that landscape and lawn care professionals have. I equate it to playing basketball. A lot of people have a basketball hoop and shoot around in the backyard at home, but that does not make them a professional basketball player. How can we elevate the public perception of our industry? The NALP is working to raise the level of professionalism across the industry through certification programs, business education and professional development, and safety training awards. We also run national consumer campaigns to help educate the public about the environmental benefits of managed landscapes, and how trained professionals can help. We must also be vocal about how great the job is and how much we enjoy the connections we make. This helps attract people, particularly young people. Other trades are already doing this, which is why
people see them as good career paths. Students, teachers, and parents don’t understand how landscaping is a way to make a living, have good benefits, get upward mobility, and be satisfied with the work you do every day. We are firm believers that if people can find their way to the industry and learn about it, they will stay.
PAYING WELL, EXPLAINING DIFFERENT CAREER PATHS, OFFERING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS, AND PROVIDING A WORK LIFE BALANCE ARE ALL WAYS TO ATTRACT NEW PEOPLE TO THE INDUSTRY Why is it so hard to recruit these days? Recruiting is always a challenge, this is not a new thing. Some in the business say it is an issue with the younger generation, or it is because people don’t want to work, but I don’t agree with them at all. The generation before us said the exact same thing. The sentiment has always been here and always will be. There really are awesome people out
there who are willing to work hard, but they are working in other industries. We need them in our industry. We are not competing with unemployment benefits; we are competing with other employers. It takes a lot to make that shift, though. Paying well, explaining different career paths, offering employee benefits, and providing a work life balance are all ways to attract new people to the industry. Businesses owners who do not offer these things risk falling behind other companies and industries. Any other thoughts on developing the landscaping workforce? Workforce development is something we all need to be focused on. The NALP works to provide landscape companies with a variety of resources to help promote their career paths and recruit new employees, and many of those tools are available online. Events like career fairs and our National Apprenticeship Program are other programs landscape professionals can take advantage of to build a winning team.
C O N TA C T National Association of Landscape Professionals Tel: 703-736-9666
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
MODERN ENVIRONMENT’S JAKE WOOD SHARES HOW THE COMPANY’S FULL SERVICE OFFERING IS A R ECIPE FOR SUCCESS
erenity can be found in nature. It is why people turn to the outdoors to escape the busyness of life, and find relaxation, recreation, and a reconnection. Jake Wood and his team with Modern Environment believe this peaceful atmosphere can be created in an outdoor oasis just steps from your backdoor. Modern Environment works with homeowners in and around Oklahoma City to design, build, and maintain personalized outdoor areas. It specializes in features like lighting, patios, fireplaces, even ground pools, and each project is tailored to unique clients and homes. The overall goal, though, is the same.
“I want to draw attention to the outdoors, to nature. I am a designer who wants to incorporate the elements of the outdoors into your home lifestyle,” said Jake. Harvey Cobbs started Modern Environment as a maintenance company, working on lawns and other small projects. As the company grew, Harvey established the landscaping division, creating the full service business model that
I AM A DESIGNER WHO WANTS TO INCORPORATE THE ELEMENTS OF THE OUTDOORS INTO YOUR HOME LIFESTYLE
Modern Environment uses today. To help with the demand of his expanding clientele, he partnered with Jake in 2015, naming him the senior designer & project manager and vice president of the company. With Harvey focusing on the maintenance division, and Jake leading the design team, the company is able to oversee every aspect of a project. It works with several commercial spaces, and several hundred
residential clients throughout the OKC area, from the initial brainstorming to the maintenance tasks that come years after project completion. Jake says this brings the community something many businesses do not offer. “There are companies that do a portion of the work but have to find a subcontractor to do a different part of the project. We want to offer our clientele a company that can do everything. You don’t deal with multiple contractors; you deal with one person who you met from day one. Construction as it is can be stressful. We want to take on the
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pressure and stress and handle it all in one company.” Modern Environment designers stay involved through each detail. They help pick out FOUNDER HARVEY COBBS things like tiling in a pool or samples for a patio, and even visit showrooms with clients. These details help create the calming, natural oasis for which Jake and Harvey aim. “When you bring in vegetation, it brings birds chirping in the background. Adding a water feature to the backyard brings the sound of water rolling over the rocks. But you must accommodate what the client is wanting and what they are needing, what their family has. For example, a lot of our families have children or dogs to accommodate. We don’t want to build an amazing backyard project, then the dog ruins it in the first week. So instead of doing a bunch of sod, we do
A LOT OF THE OKC DEVELOPMENT HAPPENED WITHIN THE LAST 15 YEARS, AND I LOVE THAT LANDSCAPE IS A BIG FEATURE a xeriscaping backyard, so it won’t get damaged if the dog is rambunctious.” Jake grew up in central Oklahoma and earned his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. During his college years he interned in New Mexico, and learned new styles of designing and building, like xeriscaping. He says more homeowners in Oklahoma are embracing these kinds of southwest techniques, and it
is helping OKC attract and entertain residents. “Many downtown parks or projects use the southwest style, which allow for our plant life to thrive. A lot of the OKC development happened within the last 15 years, and I love that landscape is a big feature.”
Jake and Harvey draw their inspiration from time spent in the wilderness, especially in Oklahoma. Avid outdoorsmen, they bike, hike, hunt, kayak, and fish in the many lakes and national parks across the state. They also pay attention to what grows naturally, how things manage against weather challenges, and how elements of nature can be featured at client’s homes. “When you can incorporate that and bring it home, to your personal space, it’s a game changer overall.”
C O N TA C T Modern Environment PO BOX 54956, Oklahoma City, OK 73154 Tel: 405-601-5001
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‘ALL OF NATURE FLOWS THROUGH US’ BY MARC QUINN
M A K I N G A MARK WITH GARDENS BECOMING SO INTEGRAL IN PEOPLE’S LIVES IN 2020, ANJI CONNELL EXPLORES HOW THEY CAN BE PERSONALISED USING ART TO CREATE A SENSE OF BELONGING
RUSTIC GARDEN ART SHOP
JOANA VASCONCELOS’ ‘GATEWAY’
‘WALALA LOUNGE’, BY CAMILLE WALALA IN LONDON’S SOUTH MOLTON STREET
ver the past year, we have all discovered how important our homes are, especially our outdoor spaces. And, with travel still pretty much off the agenda, investing in our gardens can only be money well spent. Creating a sense of place generates a feeling of belonging. This leads to a feeling of deep attachment and makes the ‘space’ become a ‘place’ of meaning and connection. Making them reflect our character and personality will make them even more so. Art can set the tone and the theme in a garden; it adds interest, texture, color, and form. It can highlight the beauty of surrounding plants and flowers and create year-round interest and structure when the perennials have died back.
in a glorious play of lines and color to create a two-dimensional vision in three-dimensional form that work incredibly well in gardens. Sam tells me: “Sculptures for me are an important element in a garden. They add something to the space without dominating it and boost the energy of the outdoor space.” Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos’ ‘Gateway’ at Jupiter Artland near Edinburgh is an immersive installation and a fully functional swimming pool. It’s bold and stunning, yet a harmonious contrast to the classic garden and architecture of Bonnington House. Alex Proba translates her colorful abstractions to rugs, countertops, ceilings, and walls. She has now delightfully showcased them at the bottom of a swimming pool on the grounds of a historic house in California. Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind’s four monumental abstract contemporary artworks explore the imbalance man has contributed to climate. Each one of the three-meter-tall works represents notable chemical compounds that are causing our changing climate.
Sculptural shape Typically, it’s a statue we think of when we consider adding art to the garden. However, we can use any visual imagery and object that is pleasing to the eye or has a sculptural shape, on any surface—walls, the ground, hanging and suspended. Sam Shendi, the Egyptian-born British sculptor living in North Yorkshire, manipulates contemporary industrial material—steel, stainless steel, aluminium, and fibreglass—
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THE PRISM CHIMINEA BY DREW SESKUNAS
A GARDEN OF SCULPTURES
Marc Quinn’s monumental 2008 sculpture ‘Planet’–a sculptural portrait of his first son at seven months old–is on permanent display at the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. The sculpture appears to float weightlessly over the earth as it distorts our perception of space. It shows how we can use overscale; art does not have to be hidden within the flower beds. We can use it to make an impact. For more affordable sculpture, look at the beautiful pieces from Vadim Kharchenko. His hand-made metal sculptures reflect modern, contemporary, and mid-century industrial design styles. The Rustic Garden Art Shop’s metal hoops have a natural rusted finish that gets better with age, needing no maintenance. The metal ring sculptures are interchangeable as one is slightly smaller than the other, so it fits within the other. Rings can be arranged randomly or in a line, guiding you through the garden. New York-based architect and designer Drew Seskunas’s wood-burning stove, the
SPLINTERWORKS POOL SLIDE
Prism Chiminea, is definitely a work of art. The stove is corrosion-proof, heat-resistant, and portable, making for a stunning focal point–especially in colder months. The ‘Prism Chiminea’ took inspiration from the studio’s Prism Planters, made from sheets of aluminium or pre-rusted steel folded into triangles to form a container that can be stacked to create a stunning and unique sculpture and a vertical garden.
and the heights. Artemide Corten steel Granito lamps project four light beams through the fissures on the sides, and make it a nice choice for driveways and walkways, and have fabulous light effects for parks and gardens. ARTEMIDE GRANITO LAMP
Soundscaping Hugh Livingston of Livingston Sound creates permanent sound environments for public and private gardens that are site-specific and tailored to the client. He adds his melodic
THE ARTEMIDE ‘O’
composition with piano and percussion instruments made of bamboo that mimic the natural sounds in gardens. Soundscaping is definitely something we’ll be seeing (or hearing) more of, especially in public spaces. Lighting Lighting can also be used as art form to enhance our spaces. Artemide’s Reeds modular and whimsical floor lights create a spectacle of light. The Artemide ‘O’ when switched off, frames nature and lends perspective. It comes in both floor and suspended outdoor versions, and a cabled option allows for easy relocation. Artemide’s Diamante creates excellent visual impact. ‘Diamonds’ of different colors use prismatic filters. The vertical drop can be realised when customised by various configurations of the number of ‘diamonds’
TOWERING ROSE SCULPTURE
Mural art Kelly Wearstler has used a mural at the Santa Monica Viceroy Hotel’s Sugar Palm Ocean Avenue Restaurant that adds color, depth, and interest. This is truly a way to personalise any space. French-born, London-based multidisciplinary artist Camille Walala is known for her ambitious, large-scale geometric interventions in public spaces, creating full facade murals and immersive 3D installations. Her ‘Walala Lounge’ in London’s South Molton Street has her signature style in seating and planters that are most definitely functional art. Her work shows how we can elevate a space—filling it with color and joy. Walala has also recently made a proposal for a pedestrianised takeover of London’s Oxford Street. What a joy that would be.
ABOUT ANJI CONNELL Internationally recognized interior architect and landscape designer, Anji Connell, is a detail-obsessed Inchbald Graduate, and has been collaborating with artisans and craftsmen to create bespoke and unique interiors for a discerning clientele since 1986. Anji is a stylist, feature writer and lover of all things art and design.
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PROJECT D E TA I L S
Project value 6.6 acres Build time 5 years Size of project Under $2M
uxury apartment leader AMLI Residential has just opened a new property in downtown Miami, and its outdoor amenities are the number-one selling point. AMLI Midtown Miami features 700 apartments in three buildings, joined by flyover bridges and a multi-level, interconnected system of gardens, swimming pools, courtyards and recreational amenities. For leading landscape architect, Erez Bar-Nur of Landscape Design Workshop, it was a dream assignment. “AMLI is a great brand known for luxury around the country,” says Erez. “They really wanted a rich outdoor program for their
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LANDSCAPE DESIGN WORKSHOP RENTERS ARE FLOCKING TO THE OUTDOOR AMENITIES OF A BRAND-NEW LUXURY APARTMENT IN MIAMI
residents. They had an amazing budget and wanted this property to be their crown jewel. This is the gold standard.” The infill development project replaced a blighted Chiquita packing plant with a 6.6-acre residential community spanning three city blocks. The project was designed to embrace the core principles of new urbanism and smart growth and is LEED Platinum® certified. Landscape Design Workshop provided landscape architecture services for the entire project including planting, hardscape, lighting and irrigation. The project began more than five years ago, and leases are now going fast. AMLI’s big investment in outdoor spaces is paying dividends.
“Outdoor spaces always add value,” says Erez. “And the value really just went up after COVID. People realize more and more the value of outdoor space, especially in an urban context. We’ve designed this project like one large playground.” Landscape Design Workshop has designed incredible spaces everywhere, from the detailed herringbone tile on the street to a ninth-floor rooftop volleyball court with Olympic sand. In between are three dog parks, two rooftop swimming pools, a bocce ball court, putting green, fire tables, garden patios and a stunning courtyard. “Overall, we wanted
WE WANTED TO REFLECT THE FLORIDA LIFESTYLE, UTILIZING A LOT OF THE OUTDOORS AND CREATING LITTLE SPACES THAT INTERMINGLE AND FLOW WITH EACH OTHER
pavers, cool blue water, lush green vegetation, and little pops of fun accent color. While it looks perfect now, a project this big did not come without complication. “The challenge was definitely the complexity of it,” Erez explains. “There were a lot of moving parts. When you start going up in the levels, everything is built on top of a structure. We took advantage of every space we could. We tightly coordinated everything with the architect and structural engineers to
ensure the structures could carry the load. We also did extensive water proofing.” Sports-grade turf was selected for the bocce ball court and putting green, while more lush turf was chosen for walkway areas. For the dog parks, an odor-resistant turf fabricated for pets was selected. “We used artificial turf throughout the property to not only reduce watering and maintenance, but also reduce the noise that comes along with that,” notes Erez. Landscape Design Workshop took great pride in the details. LED lighting was installed under built-in benches so they glow at night. To match the pop of orange on the building, the team planted Heliconia ‘Parrot Beak’
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South pool deck Concrete Pavers, planters and Bocce Court 4th Floor Pool with 9th floor flyover bridge Beautiful courtyard views at dusk
a clean and modern look. We wanted to reflect the Florida lifestyle, utilizing a lot of the outdoors and creating little spaces that intermingle and flow with each other.” The color palette mimics the Miami’s classic chic style—fresh white planters and
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and installed orange umbrellas and lounge chairs around the pool. To assist with parallel parking, Belgard street tiles were artfully arranged in a grid pattern that is as useful as it is beautiful. The tiles are four inches deep to handle the weight of utility trucks. The concrete pavers were mixed on site with three varying shades of gray. The property is right on the street, so Landscape Design Workshop created green buffers with lush vegetation and installed fountains throughout the property to drown out the city noise. One of Erez’s favorite spaces is the courtyard. “We’ve created a really cool space when you step into the courtyard,” says Erez. “It feels very protected in between the buildings. You don’t feel you’re in the middle of the city because of the vegetation and the sound of the water—you’re transported to a different place.” The courtyard fountain traverses three different levels. The plaza is raised about two feet above street level, and tenants and guests cross over a glass bridge, the water flowing beneath them. The courtyard also features trellises, a kitchen and private garden patios for the ground-floor units. Trees selected for the space are wild date palms, Alexander palms and Bridal Veil trees with finely textured leaves that allow in more light.
YOU DON’T FEEL YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY BECAUSE OF THE VEGETATION AND THE SOUND OF THE WATER— YOU’RE TRANSPORTED TO A DIFFERENT PLACE The fourth-floor rooftop features an L-shaped pool with moving fountains to create ambient sound. Custom aluminum trellises provide privacy and shade for lounging. Higher concrete planters feature taller coconut palms and cone palms, while a lower level of planters was designed to soften the wall with smaller plants. Landscape Design Workshop designed built-in benches between the planters which look like wood but are made with a more durable porcelain tile.
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Complementing the planters are wide concrete pavers, poured on site. In an urban setting with a limited footprint, every inch was utilized to its maximum. Filling the space between the two buildings on the ninth-floor rooftop is a stunning centerpiece: a fountain planter with a one-of-a-kind guava
PA R T N E R S & S U P P L I E R S Landscape architecture Erez Bar-Nur, Principal Landscape Design Workshop landscapedesignworkshop.com
WE’VE DESIGNED THIS PROJECT LIKE ONE LARGE PLAYGROUND tree that can be viewed from the gym. The fountain was constructed with porcelain tile and a stone veneer. The walkway paving is travertine installed in a French pattern. Also on the ninth-floor rooftop, a lush border of native holly, dwarf grass and Fakahatchee grass hide the building’s 200 air-conditioning units from the beach volleyball court. For movie nights on the sand, the volleyball net is removed, and a screen pops up from the white concrete wall. Other plants selected throughout the property include holly trees, royal palms, rusty leaf figs, variegated ginger, Swiss cheese plants and elephant ears. Plant materials were sourced from various nurseries. Erez says he has always been inspired by urban spaces, since a child growing up in Tel-Aviv in the midst of tightly knit mid-rise buildings and the green spaces between them. His work on AMLI Midtown Miami took home the Gold Award in the 2020 International Muse Design Awards. Of the more than 4,618 entries submitted from 57 countries, AMLI Midtown Miami rose to the top.
Architecture Bernard Zyscovich Zyscovich Architects zyscovich.com General contractor John Moriarty & Associates jmaf.net Swimming pools and fountains Dillon Pools dillonpools.com Landscape contractor Amaro Landscape Associates (305) 234-8440 5 Street view of the complex 6 Beach volleyball with Olympic sand and pop-up movie theater screen 7 Fountain planter 8 Aerial view of the complex 9 The dog park from above 10 Concrete planters and porcelain seating surround the putting green
C O N TA C T Erez Bar-Nur Landscape Design Workshop 301 Yamato Road, Suite 1240 Boca Raton, Florida 33431 Tel: (954) 772-0274
Furniture Kip Paulen, Casual Furniture Associates casualfurnitureassociates.com Pavilion Furniture Tuuci Decorative concrete pavers Belgard Pavers belgard.com Porcelain tiles and stone Emser Tile emser.com Artificial turf Royal Grass royalgrass.com Lighting Chris Doane, Power & Lighting Systems p-ls.com Lumenpulse Auroralight Bega Aluminum pergola Associated Steel & Aluminum (954) 969-0208
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DESIGN TANK PHOTO NICOLAS TOURRENC
Parklets Produced in
Lifetime anti-rust warranty
Sola, Johan Verde & Hong Ngo-Aandal
SMART CITY, SMART PARK J A M E S C O R N E R F I E L D O P E R AT I O N S
PROJECT D E TA I L S Project value Park sitework: $6.25m Build time March 2018 to March 2021 Size of project .78 acre
JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS DEVELOPS A STATE-OF-THE-ART PUBLIC PARK IN DALLAS
green area mixed into a sea of brick red is innovating the new standard of living and working in a post-pandemic society. West End Square in downtown Dallas, Texas is called a “smart park” because of its innovative technology and design. On first impression, the park just looks like a place of recreation, or another garden. Beneath the surface, West End Square is a self-autonomous system, operating seamlessly and efficiently. The Square sits in the West End District of Dallas, which is a key area of the city. One of Dallas’ oldest neighborhoods, it is filled with historic locations,
museums, old warehouses, and brick roads. These days, those old buildings are becoming residential lofts, unique restaurants, and office buildings, inspiring the city to rebrand the area as the Dallas Innovation District. The city decided to add a public green space to the West End District several years ago and began developing plans for a park that mirrored the innovation of the neighborhood. What they got from their $6.25M investment, though, is a park that doesn’t just match the innovation but propels it. James Corner Field Operations took the lead on this project. The New York based landscape architecture and urban design practice
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develops open public spaces, typically for cities but sometimes for private developers building outdoor areas for public use. It is why owners and developers, the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department and the non-profit Parks for Downtown Dallas, reached out with the idea. The developers knew they wanted a smart park and asked the landscape architects to determine how to develop and incorporate new technology in a space maintained by public funds and surrounded by a fast-changing community. The landscape architects worked closely with the city to ensure West End Square balanced these needs and would hold up through time. They carefully chose the technology used in the park, evaluating the required upkeep, its reliability, and the benefits against the costs. The team calls the systems they found groundbreaking, cost effective solutions to maintenance and sustainability issues they often run into. “You have to design something that the entity and owners can maintain,” said Isabel
Castilla, principal in charge. “The park can look great on day one but look awful later if the maintenance is not what the entity can handle.
YOU HAVE TO DESIGN SOMETHING THAT THE ENTITY AND OWNERS CAN MAINTAIN. THE PARK CAN LOOK GREAT ON DAY ONE BUT LOOK AWFUL LATER IF THE MAINTENANCE IS NOT WHAT THE ENTITY CAN HANDLE When crews broke ground on West End Square at the beginning of 2020, they envisioned an innovative smart park that
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would offer people a place of recreation and an outdoor office space. They wanted the park to match a city on the forefront of innovation. What they didn’t know at the time, though, was they were creating the new standard for a post-pandemic society. “The fact that we built the whole thing during the pandemic is pretty incredible,” said Isabel. “The pandemic was almost a benefit for this project, and really any project that we work on. As landscape architects, we are always advocating open public spaces that provide access to nature. The pandemic made it so much more evident that people have not prioritized spending time outdoors. It was a good result for an unfortunate situation.” Technology is deeply woven into the structure of West End Square. The park incorporates a smart irrigation system with moisture sensors to gauge weather patterns and self-regulate how much water goes to planting beds. A self-regulating water fountain operates depending upon the
weather. On hot Texas days, a refreshing mister cools visitors; when it’s cold, it’s simply a reflecting pool with peaceful bubbling sounds. The irrigation system also communicates with the city, updating how much water is being used and if the lines are functioning well. The city also gets information from the smart lighting system about energy consumption and when bulbs need to be replaced. When the park closes, the system dims the lights to save power
and respect the people living nearby. If a visitor comes by, lights return to full capacity to keep the area safe. The landscape architects used smart tech to accomplish another main goal, to offer outdoor office space to companies and professionals in the neighborhood. Isabel and her team built a workroom with a 50-foot-long table, equipped with wireless charging pads to power cell phones, and outlets for laptops and other devices. Free
Wi-Fi is also available. Benches, separate tables, and swings are provided for a more intimate working space. A trellis-like structure that surrounds the three edges
1 West End Square ©Sam Oberter Photography 2 The Porch ©Sam Oberter Photography 3 Prairie gardens and Water Table, West End Square ©Sam Oberter Photography 4 East to West Section, West End Square ©James Corner Field Operations
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of the park acts as an armature for the smart systems. It controls the operating technology and houses empty conduits and extra electrical and fiber-optic capacity to allow for new technology to be added as the park’s needs evolve. These are all part of the designers’ goal to keep the park maintained for years to come. “Technology evolves rapidly over time, sometimes improving while oftentimes becoming obsolete,” says Isabel. “When developing a public park with limited funds, balancing amenities that are traditional and long lasting, such as trees and urban furniture, with something technologically forward is important.”
There are classic features, like the Prairie Garden in the center of West End Square. The garden beds are filled with native Texas plants, like the red and yellow yucca, sweet scented marigold, and purpletop vervain. Native trees and grass are scattered through other areas of the park as well, and visitors will see Texas
THE PANDEMIC MADE IT SO MUCH MORE EVIDENT THAT PEOPLE HAVE NOT PRIORITIZED SPENDING TIME OUTDOORS. IT WAS A GOOD RESULT FOR AN UNFORTUNATE SITUATION redbuds, white crepe myrtles, burr oaks, and Bermuda grass, to name a few. It took about a year to build the park, and the community flocked to it the day it opened. Isabel remembers a woman bringing her laptop to the table and immediately getting to work, groups of professionals sitting down for lunch, and families spending the afternoon at the ping pong and foosball tables. “I really reflected on how important it is to invest in public spaces, even a tiny space like West End Square,” says Isabel. “People immediately gravitate to it. I’m really happy with the outcome and I hope it continues to be the neighborhood park that it set out to be.”
5 Aerial view rendering of West End Square ©James Corner Field Operations 6 West End Square before ©David Woo, courtesy of Parks for Downtown Dallas
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PA R T N E R S & S U P P L I E R S Landscape architecture James Corner Field Operations Isabel Castilla, principal-in-charge Stephanie Ulrich, project manager Kate Rodgers, project designer Structural engineering Datum Rios datumrios.com Lighting design HLB Lighting Design hlblighting.com MEP engineering Purdy-McGuirre, Inc purdy-mcguire.com Water feature consultant Greenscape Pump Services greenscapepump.com Soils and irrigation Jeffrey L. Bruce & Co, LLC jlbruce.com Horticulture Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden dallasarboretum.org
PRAX A defense against the mess of cities.
HOME SWEET HOME HJT LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS
HJT LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS CREATES AN OUTDOOR OASIS IN SUGAR LAND, TEXAS
or a big family just southwest of Houston, Heath Thibodeaux designed an enticing and livable outdoor space totaling 7,500 square feet. Architect Paul Brow was working with the family on a major home renovation in a high-end subdivision and asked HJT Landscape Architects to design a backyard retreat to complement his work. “My first step is always a fact-finding mission to determine how my clients like to live,” says Heath. “Our client has five children, from elementary school to high school, and she wanted a yard not just to entertain but draw them outside. The end result is a garden that is lived in, not just seen from the curb.” Heath looks at his projects as a sequence of spaces, considering the context of the home and the surrounding architecture. Once a loose diagram is complete with the client’s vision, Heath dives into the details.
“Not only are we creating space but also giving subtle cues as to how these spaces should be approached, moved through and used,” he says. To invite the homeowners into the backyard, Heath created a step down from the house into the garden, a small gesture that helps define the space.
THE END RESULT IS A GARDEN THAT IS LIVED IN, NOT JUST SEEN FROM THE CURB “Whether it’s a grand lawn, pool garden or an approach through a side garden, we should always understand the value that these spaces add to the property as a whole and to the client’s experience—not an inch should go
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unconsidered,” says Heath. From there, he puts the initial concepts into a context where the contractor can price it. “Until that point, it’s all roses and cherries and the client loves everything,” jests Heath. “But before we move forward we have to talk price. It’s time for reality.” For this job, Heath worked with AP Builders who was already on site for the house renovation, to work on the hardscaping. Heath says the job of a landscape architect is to see everything the client may not even notice—the sun, prevailing winds, drainage patterns, existing vegetation and soils. “There are a lot of numbers involved in making sure the things are correct,” he says. “The layout, various heights, property elevation, amount of planting and rock. My job is to make sure everything is done correctly.” Heath likes to start with the hardscape and then determine the best plant material to
WE SHOULD ALWAYS UNDERSTAND THE VALUE THAT THESE SPACES ADD TO THE PROPERTY AS A WHOLE AND TO THE CLIENT’S EXPERIENCE— NOT AN INCH SHOULD GO UNCONSIDERED complement the flat work. For this project, he worked with Yellow Rose Lawn Maintenance to carry out the landscaping design and plant installation. Heath created a layering effect with the plantings, selecting irises, azaleas and a boxwood border to set off the edge of the brick wall. Other plant material included around the property includes roses, Viburnum burkwoodii, evergreen clematis and zoysia grass. Merlot redbud trees and Magnolia grandiflora ‘D.D Blanchard’ were also planted for additional texture and privacy. “When considering the makeup of a garden room, you’re thinking about your shrubs and perennials as walls or window seals,” he explains. “Ornamental trees become your windows, walls and ceilings.
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The lushly outlined garden wall Versatile garden seating options Polished concrete firepit and seating area Night time view across the pool The black marble fountain Photography ©Zac Seewald Photographer
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Flowering ornamentals are the ever-changing wallpaper, and canopy trees become yet another layer of ceilings or roofs. The complexity of these elements and the spaces that they form are further intensified by the way the visitors use that space, whether they are sitting, walking, or standing. These spaces ebb and flow with one’s eyes which draws you further into the gardens beyond. ”
To build out the spa and pool, Heath worked with Sunshine Pools, again considering the varying ages of the family. A bench runs around the perimeter of the pool. Heath designed multiple levels within the pool’s spa area as well as a spillover for a soft effect. A monolithic bluestone step that allows you to cross over the spillover reservoir into the spa. The black ceramic tile at the waterline of the pool accentuates the black marble of the fountain. Around the pool are Pennsylvania bluestone pavers, which complement the lead pots for a tone-on-tone effect.
“We try to create a garden for the client, respectful of the architecture and within the context of the neighborhood,” says Health. “Our projects end up being timeless. If you do something too trendy, it will look dated in five years.” Heath installed an outside shower for convenience, but also to create a focal interest along an otherwise plain garage wall. The firepit, opposite the pavilion that Brow designed, is a polished concrete. And while the gravel looks great around the firepit and fountain, it serves as important drainage for the garden. The backyard is easy on the eyes, and the various amenities are completely balanced. That’s because Heath created one center line from the seating area and the firepit, across the spa area and pool, to the pavilion. Not only does it look perfect, but the family has a great view for their movie nights while floating in the pool. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the landscape architect, says Heath, but about how the client enjoys the space. 6 Hot tub area detail, with black ceramic tiling 7 View across the pool to the pavilion 8 The outdoor shower, situated on garage wall Photography ©Zac Seewald Photographer
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A BOU T H EAT H THIBODEAUX Heath Thibodeaux is the principal at HJT Landscape Architects, a boutique firm in Houston. He received his bachelor’s in landscape architecture from LSU.
Tel: (713) 256-5948
PA R T N E R S & S U P P L I E R S General contractor AP Builders www.apbuilderstexas.com Architect Paul N. Brow, Architect, LLC paulnbrowarchitect.com Plant procurement and installation Yellow Rose Lawn Maintenance yellowroselawn.com Swimming pool Sunshine Pools, Inc. sunshinepoolsinc.com
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hen Lanie and Gray walked down the aisle in 2002, they were bright-eyed about their future. Life has thrown them a few curveballs since then, but they’re stronger than ever, knowing they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be. As newlyweds, Lanie landed a job at a nursery while Gray worked in his family’s real estate and development business. But five years into their marriage, they hit their first speed bump.
THE RINER FAMILY
T H U N D E R W O O D FA R M S AFTER A DEVASTATING TORNADO, L ANIE AND GR AY RINER REBUILD ON A FOUNDATION OF FAITH, FRIENDS AND FAMILY
“Not only was the real-estate market tanking, I found out I was pregnant,” says Lanie. “Like many women, I wanted to be near my mom. So, we sold the last of our properties, and we moved home to start a nursery on my family’s land. Cole was born in January of 2008, and we broke ground on our business in July.” Then 17 months later, the couple welcomed their daughter Reagan into the world. While they had a lot to juggle, they had a strong support system. Lanie says Gray picked up on the nursery business quickly, and Gray credits his wife for being a good teacher. The couple says the key to working with your spouse is to stay in your own lane. “She takes care of things like paperwork that I have a tough time doing,” says Gray. “And thanks to him, our processes are streamlined and we’re more efficient,” Lanie chimes in. “And he’s really good at the people side of the business and doing the sales and marketing.”
For the next several years, the couple ran their small but successful operation, growing perennial cultivars for wholesale nurseries, independent garden centers, landscaping firms, and cut-flower producers in the Southeast. Thunderwood Farms became known for its unique line of moderate to high-end perennials that perform well under the South’s intense heat and humidity. But on the winter solstice of 2017, the darkest day of the year became the darkest moment in their life. A tornado destroyed their farm.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 39
could get to our plants and helped us relocate them so not all was lost.” After that sign of hope from friends, Lanie and Gray did what they did every week—they headed to church. “That Sunday the pastor preached on Romans 8:26-28, which says the Spirit helps us in our weakness and that God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose,” says Lanie. “It was the perfect message we needed that morning.” “This tornado didn’t get a lot of press because it was over farmland,” says Lanie. “But for us, it was devastating. It hopped right over the house where my mom and kids were, but then winds came from the south and took down all of our greenhouses. But our workers inside—one was nearly eight months pregnant—were unharmed. That was a real blessing. We were not nearly as broken as we could have been.” Lanie and Gray were in shock, unsure of where to start picking up the pieces. Then, their phone started ringing. “Growers from the Heart of Georgia Nursery Group told us they were on their way to help,” Lanie recalls. “There are about 21 of us in our group and we’d met at trade shows and through business over the years. They showed up the next morning and completely removed the debris in two days. They got to where we
WE WERE ABLE TO INVEST IN AUTOMATION AND FIGURE OUT WAYS TO RUN OUR BUSINESS MORE EFFICIENTLY WITH FEWER WORKERS Over the next few months, two visiting pastors came, and of all the passages they chose to read, they both selected the same verses as the one before: Romans 8:26-28. “As we were going through rebuilding and all the immovable mountains that got in the way, God was sending us a message of hope,” says Lanie, who still gets emotional retelling the story. “We had two little children watching,
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so we had to rebuild. We wanted them to have that faith, too.” Rebuilding, as challenging as it’s been, gave Lanie and Gray the opportunity to reset and reinvent their business. For years, Thunderwood Farms had done speculative growing—anticipating the future based on sales of the past. “It’s like having a crystal ball that’s fuzzy,” Lanie explains. So, after the tornado, they decided solely to do custom speciality growing, only planting what’s been ordered. Today, Thunderwood Farms grows 300 different cultivars. Instead of competing with larger nurseries for the top 50 perennials, it focuses on specialty crops. It has a nine-page availability list of items such as Baptisia, Asclepias and Helleborus. It counts on repeat business as well as two nationwide brokers that help get their plants out the door. “We were able to invest in automation and figure out ways to run our business more efficiently with fewer workers,” says Gray. “We now have two connected
greenhouses and an outside growing area, totaling 15,000 square foot that we turn about five times a year. As soon as one shipment goes out, I plant the second, and so on.” Like many nurseries across the South, Thunderwood Farms has had trouble finding workers—even at a pay of $12 per hour that’s significantly higher than the county’s minimum wage. As a small nursery, it is difficult to participate in the H2A program because the rules are stringent and the program is costly, especially when housing must be provided. “Labor is hard to come by,” says Lanie. “It’s something we’ve struggled with here in Meriwether County for a long time.” Wider, floating aisles and rolling benches make moving plants at Thunderwood Farms much easier. Instead of full-time staff watering the plants, they invested in a smart irrigation system. “I can also better control the temperature in the greenhouse,” says Gray. Through computer automation, the roof opens, the sides roll up, and there’s airflow. That’s been a huge time and labor saving.” The couple has gone from needing four employees to only one. While they certainly don’t want to relive the tornado, they’ve found a silver lining. “Don’t be afraid to diversify or change,” advises Gray. “It can be a blessing.”
Last year, the couple decided to make yet another change. Right before COVID-19, Lanie decided to take a job as executive director of the Georgia Green Industry Association. Gray had served as former chairman of GGIA in 2015, and Lanie valued the service it provided its members.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DIVERSIFY OR CHANGE. IT CAN BE A BLESSING “It was a crazy time,” says Gray. “In June last year, Lanie started doing GGIA full time. At the onset of COVID-19, she was really working behind the scenes to make sure green industry businesses were deemed essential, and here at the nursery, we were selling out of everything. People were stuck at home and still getting a paycheck. So, they wanted plants. Thanks to Lanie and the work of GGIA, our industry remained open.” Gray says between the increased demand caused by the quarantine and the recent freeze in the South, plant shortages are a real problem this season. Thunderwood has
sold out of plants, which is good for business, but plant shortages are stressful for the couple who want to provide customers with what they want. Gray warns landscapers to plan ahead for 2022 as many plants will not be available. Through the aftermath of the tornadoes to dealing with COVID demands, Lanie says being part of an association is more important than ever. “I would encourage green industry businesses to network and join the state trade association,” says Lanie. “If you’re having a challenge with something, I guarantee other folks are having the same issues. That network is truly invaluable.” Despite all the challenges and changes, the couple is sure of their calling. “This business is a labor of love,” says Lanie. “We go along and do the best we can and give back the best way we can. That’s all anyone can do.”
C O N TA C T Thunderwood Farms Woodbury, Georgia Tel: (706) 977-3590
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 41
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G R A D E S , STA N DA R D S & S P EC ’ S OH MY! FLORIDA GROWER JOHN CONROY EXPLAINS THE FLORIDA GRADES AND STANDARDS FOR NURSERY PLANTS, A RESOURCE FOR GROWERS, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS, INSPECTORS, AND OTHER INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS TO MEASURE TREE QUALITY. JOHN DISCUSSES HOW THE GUIDELINES HAVE IMPROVED THE INDUSTRY IN FLORIDA
F INDUSTRY INSIGHTS WITH
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lorida Grades and Standards for Nursery Plants has existed in Florida for many decades. As stated in the Grades and Standards document, “The nursery industry must precisely communicate the attributes of its valued product.” Beyond this objective, as it is stated in Florida statutes, industry professionals have detailed specific characteristics (standards) which are used as measures to grade healthy and safe trees which have the best chance for success. Historically, grading standards focused more heavily on aesthetic considerations rather than today’s process which requires greater attention to structural integrity. With the advent of stronger and more frequent hurricanes, industry leadership recognized the importance of producing, installing and maintaining structurally sound trees and palms. Today, the emphasis is now
on well-formed, architecturally correct, healthy trees. Considerable resources have been invested in research and in the accumulation of feedback from many sources. This data serves as the foundation for refining the grading document. Input for the process of establishing standards
NOW THE EMPHASIS IS ON WELL-FORMED, ARCHITECTURALLY CORRECT, HEALTHY TREES to be used in the grading process came from a cross section of green industry professionals: landscape architects, contractors, growers, arborists, maintenance professionals, academics and government officials. All played a role in the drafting of Florida’s Grades and Standards. The document is revised every five years based on on-going research and experience. In our last column we addressed issues of poor branch structure and circulating roots. These defects can result in a tree being rejected as non-gradable. Think of Grades and Standards as a tool of the industry; left in the shed, you cannot effectively evaluate trees. Failures of trees are often directly related to poorly grown or poorly maintained trees. This can result in replacement costs, property loss and personal injury. Obviously, failures aren’t always avoidable but if we are truly responsible professionals the proper culturing of trees can mitigate risks. Because the general
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 43
population does not understand arboriculture the question becomes; Are we willing to regulate ourselves and provide better products and processes?
IF WE ARE TRULY RESPONSIBLE PROFESSIONALS THE PROPER CULTURING OF TREES CAN MITIGATE RISKS As Dr. Gilman made clear in the last issue of Pro Landscaper, trees behave essentially the same worldwide. “With the enforcement of grades, combined with specifications, the customer gets a better tree.” Grades and Standards is a required tool in Florida which afford industry professionals the means to evaluate and grade better trees.
Advancement in business is often met with resistance. Change collides with vested interests, model building, legitimization, implementation, enforcement and other obstacles which create significant headwinds. A commitment to providing safer, healthier and more sustainable trees has been well served by Grades and Standards in Florida.
Next issue: Valued for their aesthetic and economic impact, trees are the dominant and most enduring aspect of landscapes. If we truly accept this, it follows that we should plant and maintain trees which are safe, healthy and successful in their new setting. Properly applied guidelines protect our investment in trees and protect stakeholders. In our next column, we will feature Joe Samnik of Expert Tree Consultant. He will share with us insights regarding contracts, court cases and consequences.
44 Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
REPRESENTATIVE VIEWS FROM PROFESSIONALS ACROSS THE INDUSTRY SHARE THEIR INSIGHTS IN THE VALUE AND APPLICATION OF GRADES AND STANDARDS:
Lloyd Morgan GENERAL MANAGER, FISH BRAND TREE FARM, INC.
John: Do the Grades and Standards hold people more accountable? Lloyd: Grades and Standards offer a common language. When a #1 grade live oak is on the landscape plan, there is little question about what that means in terms of the quality of the branch structure, root system, and overall health of the tree. If there is a dispute over whether a tree meets the grade, a review of the Grades and Standards document is usually enough to clear up the matter. John: How have the Grades and Standards impacted growing practices? Lloyd: Our goal is to produce a Florida Fancy every time. If a tree isn’t at least a #1 grade, it rarely makes it to the job site. The industry as a whole no longer accepts trees of lesser quality. “Florida #1 or better” is a common specification on landscape plans.
Scott Travis SENIOR PURCHASING MANAGER, BRIGHTVIEW LANDSCAPE John: Are Florida’s Grades and Standards relevant to your role? Scott: I would say that 95% of the jobs that we perform specify Florida #1 or better regarding plant material quality. By applying these standards in grading plant material, the variance that can occur from individual opinion is lessened and more uniformity is achieved.
John: Do G&S make your job easier or harder? Scott: My job has become much easier as the Florida Grades and Standards has been accepted as the plant quality rule. When I first started 20 years ago, prior to the consistant application of the G&S, I often only tagged two out of every 10 trees in a nursery as the quality I desired. Now with the uniformity, I can tag almost every commercially grown tree. John: Do Brightview purchasing agents in other states struggle with material quality due to the absence of G&S? Scott: There is variance in the quality of plant material by region. Often trees are purchased here in Florida to ship to Texas, but I think that is driven mainly by availability not quality. I have seen great improvement throughout the Southeast in the quality of trees and shrubs though. I don’t know if this has been driven by G&S, but it is a definite possibility.
John: Do the Grades and Standards hold people more accountable? Joe: Every tradesman involved with the landscape is now responsible, through a contractual obligation, to perform to the specificity outlined in Florida’s Grades and Standards. The accountability cannot be denied or circumvented once the contract is in force.
Joe Samnik EXPERT TREE CONSULTANT & NATIONAL LEADER IN FORENSIC ARBORICULTURE FOUNDING PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIET Y OF ARBORICULTURE (ISA), FLORIDA CHAPTER
John: Why is it important to include the Grades and Standards in your contracts? Joe: There is a multiplicity of important criteria contained within the Grades and Standards which is not conveyed in a set of landscape drawings and specifications. This includes precise communication between the buyer and the seller, a vehicle for buyer and seller communication, and the details which facilitate that communication.
John: How have Grades and Standards played a role in court cases? Joe: The landscape bidding process includes but is not necessarily limited to the landscape professional’s specifications. These specifications include illustrations and narratives that become part of a binding contract between the successful landscape installer who was awarded the bid, and the person that is paying for the landscape installation. This binding contract can hold great peril for all involved: peril found in the compliance, or noncompliance, of the written specifications which formed the contract.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 45
8 REASONS WHY
IS AN UNMISSABLE EVENT FOR THREE DAYS IN OCTOBER, LOUISVILLE IS HOME TO THE INDUSTRY’S LARGEST TRADE SHOW. THIS YEAR, WE NEED IT MORE THAN EVER. WHETHER YOU’RE A FIRST-TIME ATTENDEE OR A SEASONED SHOW VETERAN, IT’S GOT SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. HERE ARE EIGHT REASONS THIS YEAR IS A CAN’T-MISS EVENT
1. RECONNECT WITH THE INDUSTRY For nearly 40 years, GIE+EXPO has been the industry’s family reunion. It’s the place where manufacturers, contractors, dealers, and distributors can meet in person, learn from one another, and share best practices. If you have a question about how to improve your business, the answer is at EXPO. Show organizers are focused on providing another great show, and we’re ready to get back together in Louisville.
2. FLY A DRONE
For the first time ever, the show will offer hands-on drone training. The new Drone Zone will give show attendees the opportunity to fly a drone right on the exhibit floor in a 4,000 sq ft netted area. Flight simulators will be used for testing abilities. Then after a little practice, it’s time to step into the Zone and fly with an expert trainer.
3. GET INTO OUTDOOR LIVING GIE+EXPO attendees get complimentary access to Hardscape North America, the largest tradeshow for the hardscape industry. It’s a great way to learn more about one of the fastest-growing segments in the business.
46 Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
4. LEARN THE LATEST TECH EXPO has always been the place to see the latest equipment innovations, and to try them out yourself. It’s also the best place to learn about the most current technology solutions for your business. We’ve got more than 40 technology exhibitors on the floor – from back-end business software to equipment tracking to marketing solutions, and more.
5. ADOPT A DOG Who knows your yard better than your dog? For the third year, we’re hosting Lucky’s Mutt Madness, a national dog adoption event, in partnership with the Kentucky Humane Society. EXPO exhibitors and attendees create and maintain the outdoor spaces that are vital to people and pets, and through this event can adopt their own rescue pup in Freedom Hall.
6. GET OUT AND TRY… WELL, EVERYTHING With more than 20 acres of outdoor demonstration area, GIE+EXPO is the best place to try out for yourself all the equipment your business needs. You and your crews can run the latest EFI engines, trial robotic and autonomous equipment, and go for a test drive at the new UTV test track (just to name a few).
7. FIND THE LATEST BACKYARDING TRENDS Backyarding – the trend of moving many activities outdoors – became a necessity during the pandemic. Yards and other managed landscapes have become a safe haven for working, studying, playing, exercising, and connecting. EXPO is where you can find everything you need for your clients to become expert ‘backyarders.’
8.FIND THE NEXT NORMAL Last year was a challenge, and the industry responded. Through recessions, labor shortages and droughts, the industry and your tradeshow has continued to thrive. We don’t know what the next challenge will be, but we know the answer will be at EXPO.
After a year like none other, we’re ready to get back to business and host our show in person this October. This industry is full of creative and resilient people, and we’re ready to welcome you all to Louisville this October 20-22. I’ll see you there.
ABOUT KRIS KISER
Kris Kiser is president of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, managing partner of GIE+EXPO, and the TurfMutt Foundation.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 47
D I G I TA L
R EC RU I TIN G Make the job description stand out. Job hunters see dozens of landscaping positions with similar titles, pay scales, and descriptions on online job boards, then apply for several and accept the first or highest paying offer. Job managers should make postings eye-catching and attractive. They should hook the candidates, the way an ad would hook a client. Emphasize benefits, outline safety protocols, highlight the fun of working outdoors, and explain more about your team. Candidates should visualize themselves enjoying the job and being a part of something purposeful. Choose your hiring platform wisely. Online job boards can be a great tool for finding candidates, but sites are densely saturated and some charge hundreds of dollars for extra exposure. Facebook can be a powerful tool, letting companies post both on the job board and pop up in news feeds. There are dozens to test, though, and hiring managers should cast a wide net.
BUSINESS MARKETING EXPERT RUDY HETTRICK HELPS COMPANIES REBUILD THEIR PROCESS OF RECRUITING, HIRING, AND RETAINING EMPLOYEES. HERE ARE HIS TIPS TO BUILDING A SYSTEM THAT WORKS, BASED ON TACTICS THAT HAVE HELPED OTHER COMPANIES BE SUCCESSFUL
Utilize multimedia advertising. Things like videos, pictures, and polls. Share short clips of employees describing what their day-to-day looks like or explaining things they like about the company. Share polls that ask job hunters what they want in a new career, then explain how your company meets those needs. Share pictures of the company’s projects or team events. Help people visualize the job and meet potential coworkers.
JOB MANAGERS SHOULD MAKE POSTINGS EYE-CATCHING AND ATTRACTIVE. THEY SHOULD HOOK THE CANDIDATES, THE WAY AN AD WOULD HOOK A CLIENT Target demographics. Several platforms, including Facebook, can target specific ages and locations. For example, a lawn care technician position should be targeted toward younger people with less experience, so to match this. change the post settings to only be shared with people in the 18-to25-year range.
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Use job boards in the bidding process. Job boards allow hiring managers to require a few extra steps in the application process. Candidates can be asked to manually enter details like work experience and references or take skills and aptitude tests. Candidates willing to go through these processes prove their interest in the job and willingness to go the extra mile. Businesses in and out of the landscaping industry are all struggling with the workforce dilemma, but those who are overcoming it are ones that are open minded and willing to adjust. They are standing out with creative recruiting strategies, expanding incentive programs, and investing in company culture. Businesses willing to make bold changes are ones that will stay afloat.
A B O U T R U DY H E T T R I C K Rudy Hettrick, business development director at Landscaper Marketers, manages a digital marketing agency exclusively for landscapers. Rudy spent the early years of his career working with landscaping and home maintenance companies, but later developed a passion for business marketing. Rudy now manages marketing campaigns for companies in the U.S. and Canada, ranging in size from $500K to $3M in yearly revenue. He also hosts online tutorials and seminars to advice businesses on recruiting employees and building their company brand.
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50 Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021
ME AGAN SANDERS
President, Evolve Landscaping Garner, NC
Sales and materials buyer, Wholesale Gardens, Bellaire, TX
What inspired you to get into the industry? I started off as a pre-med major in college and decided to change when I ran into organic chemistry. My roommate at the time was in landscaping and we would go out on the weekends and do projects for cash. I got hooked!
Other than the USA, which country’s landscape inspires you the most? Costa Rica. It is naturally beautiful and sustainable.
One thing that you think would make the industry better? We need to figure out a mechanism to solve the labor issues and bridge the gap between the younger generation and folks that will be aging out relatively soon.
What advice you have for those starting out in the industry? Do everything with a smile. We’re all in the same boat – or garden, if you will.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? Stepping away from a good job with an established landscape company to start my own business at 40. What advice do you have for those starting out in the industry? Work hard and stay humble. There are many places that you can go in this industry but it takes time to get there.
One thing that you think would make the industry better? A bigger interest in the profession at the collegiate level.
Role model as a child? My high school Ag teacher, Dan Autrey. He led by example and always had a great sense of humor. Best piece of trivia you know? The chicken came before the egg, because what else would’ve incubated the egg to hatch? If you weren’t in the horticulture industry, what would you be doing? I wanted to be an Ag teacher, but I’m glad God led me to this path.
Role model as a child? Bo and Luke Duke!
What would you blow your budget on? Oddly, I really love boulders.
Your most used saying or cliché I always say ‘that’s not going anywhere’ after we load something and tie it down.
Your favorite joke? What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef.
M AT T W I N N
LOUIS PEREZ, JR.
Vice president of operations, Reed Landscaping, Inc, Spring Hill, TN
Sales manager, Westco Grounds Maintenance, LLC Houston, TX
Chief executive officer, Blue Native Landscape and Irrigation Miami/Fort Lauderdale, FL
What inspired you to get into the industry? I grew up in the landscaping industry. Landscaping is in my blood. My first job was working for my uncle at the age of 14.
What would you blow your budget on? Family. I love to be a provider and love to entertain my loved ones.
What inspired you to get into the industry? My passion for being able to completely change a property aesthetically through landscaping.
Other than the USA, which country’s landscape inspires you the most? I find the landscapes of the United Kingdom inspiring. I enjoy a lot of greenery and enjoy a well-manicured English ivy feature. The one person in the industry you’d love to meet? Fredrick Law Olmstead! The man designed Central Park! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? Trying to escape the horticulture/ landscape industry. For a long time, I did not think I could make a career in the industry. I tried pursuing a career in accounting but quickly realized my passion for horticulture. Best piece of trivia you know? Tic Tac mints are named after the sound their container makes. Who would play you in a movie of your life? Tom Hanks, hopefully. Karaoke song of choice? ‘Friends in Low Places’ by Garth Brooks.
The one person in the industry you’d love to meet? Dr. Robert D. Brown, professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the A&M in College Station. One thing that you think would make the industry better? Technology and better utilization of the latest integrating systems from design to installation and maintenance. Newest gardening trend in your opinion. Getting creative with your containers. Painting them and using really anything to grow things in.
If you weren’t in the horticulture industry, what would you be doing? I’d be a sports agent for NFL athletes. Other than the USA, which country’s landscape inspires you the most? Cuba. What would you blow your budget on? Sportfishing yacht and super midsize cabin jet. The one person in the industry you’d love to meet? Richard Sperber.
Best piece of trivia you know? Houston ranks first in total park acreage among U.S. cities with more than one million residents.
What advice do you have for those starting out in the industry? Learn your trade and be the best at what you do. Don’t try to just be okay at “everything”.
Role model as a child? My grandfather. He was in agriculture and a lover of green spaces.
What three things would you take to a desert island? Fishing rod, sunglasses, Bible.
What advice you have for those starting out in the industry? Believe in yourself. Surround your self with experienced mentors and be open to learn new things.
One thing that you think would make the industry better? Making it easier for the people that WANT to work in our industry to get those opportunities.
Pro Landscaper USA South July/August 2021 51
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