LANDSCAPER TRANSFORMS HIS OWN BACKYARD
DESIGN + BUILD + MAINTAIN LET’S HEAR IT FROM
I AM A MAN
Company and association president Leslie Herndon
Stunning new Memphis plaza pays tribute to Civil Rights
Landscape architect Lori Hawkins shares her tips
Latest trends, new products & more
High-quality turf irrigation products for over 45 years.
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W E LCO M E section, we feature a Louisiana nursery with a strong community spirit, and John Conroy interviews Ed Gilman about how to procure, plant and grow the healthiest trees. Other interviews not to miss are with Leslie Herndon, the first female president of the NCLNA; Pinnacle Lighting founder Jim Burks; KUJO Footwear inventor Shawn Langton; YardNique founder Brian DuMont; and many more. Thanks to your support of Pro Landscaper’s US launch, we are excited to announce we are expanding with three additional regional magazines across the country. Please see inside for details!
ANGELIQUE & LAURA
ANGELIQUE AND LAURA
Angelique Robb Managing director firstname.lastname@example.org Laura Lee Editor email@example.com
©Pinnacle Lighting Group/Brent Wallace
ummer is finally upon us, and we’re starting to get back to a new normal. Even as the country is opening up again, we can still expect a strong focus on landscaping. Consumers in a postCOVID world have a recharged appreciation for the outdoors. Homeowners will continue to invest in their backyards, while commercial clients and municipalities will continue to build dynamic outdoor spaces to accommodate the growing demand. In this issue, industry leaders share the latest trends in outdoor living as well as their predictions for 2021. We highlight two extraordinary backyard residences in Dallas and Atlanta, and we spotlight an inspiring Civil Rights plaza in the city of Memphis. You’ll also find backyard must-haves for your clients and the latest equipment for your crew. In our Nurture
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COVERING: TEXAS, OKLAHOMA, LOUISIANA, ARK ANSAS, MISSISSIPPI, TENNESSEE, ALABAMA, GEORGIA, FLORIDA, NORTH CAROLINA, SOUTH CAROLINA, VIRGINIA AND KENTUCKY
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
INFORM 08 10 12 14 16 18 22
INSPIRE 26 28 32 36
The Rise of Steel TLC Gardens I AM A MAN JPA Inc and Cliff Garten Studio Delphi Dreams Landscape Studio Urban Oasis Complete Landsculpture
Agenda Industry leaders observe outdoor living trends News The industry’s biggest news and happenings News Extra Coping with plant shortages Girl Power Deborah Cole What’s Trending? Brooke Inzerella, Horticare Let’s Hear it From Leslie Herndon, Greenscape, Inc Company Profile Pinnacle Lighting Group
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
NURTURE 41 42 44 48
AlterNATIVE Native Plant Horticulture Foundation Edible Gardens Lori Hawkins Nursery Focus Bracy’s Nursery Industry Insights With John Conroy Keys to a healthy and enduring tree
M AY/J U N E 2 0 2 1 E D U C AT E 52 53 55 56 59
Becoming a Sustainable Landscaping Company Dan Mabe 5 Things You Should Know Before You Grow Nick Ruddle Latest Products Four fertilizers to try now
Outdoor Living Products Must-haves this summer Equipment Backpack Blowers
PEOPLE 62 64 66
Sole Searching Shawn Langton, Kujo Executive Profile Brian DuMont, Yardnique Little Interviews Five voices of the industry
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
CO N T R I B U TO R S P14
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.
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.
Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA, is the owner and principal of Hawkins Landscape Architecture. With over 30 years of experience, she specializes in high-end residential landscape architecture and offers 3D landscape design to allow customers to a unique view of their landscape before installation.
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.
Dan Mabe founded the American Green Zone Alliance in 2010 to create green-collar jobs, improve the health of grounds maintenance workers, reduce impacts on our planet, and enhance quality of life in communities. Based in Los Angeles, he works with landscaping companies nationwide.
Since 2007, Nick Ruddle has worked with a wide range of businesses across the industry as well as associations and suppliers to implement effective strategies and produce exceptional results. He’s completed over 5,000 hours of coaching and delivered hundreds of workshops and seminars.
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Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 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.
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WHAT OUTDOOR TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING FOR 2021?
FOUNDER AND PRINCIPAL, L ANDSCAPE DESIGN WORKSHOP, BOCA RATON, FLORIDA
PRESIDENT AND CEO, OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT INSTITUTE (OPEI), TURFMUTT FOUNDATION, ALEX ANDRIA, VIRGINIA
The separation between work and home and the number of hours spent in private space has altered dramatically for many people. Here in Florida, I definitely see a move away from Mediterranean architecture to more modern and contemporary architecture defined by large volumes with floor-to-ceiling windows. This provides the perfect opportunity to connect to the outdoor spaces and the landscape as the extension of the indoors. We’re seeing an increased use of summer kitchens; outdoor fire tables and fireplaces; trellises, cabanas and other shade structures for outdoor living room furniture; and water features that drown background noise and provide a peaceful environment.
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
Overall, shipments of outdoor power equipment increased 16% in 2020. Our own backyard is nearly limitless with possibilities, and homeowners got really creative as they expanded and enjoyed their yards over the last year. Backyarding, the new trend to move many indoor activities—from working in an office or classroom to dining and recreation—to the great outdoors, is growing. Expect people to continue to invest in their outdoor life this spring. We predict, long after the COVID-19 pandemic passes, our yards will become an even greater part of our lives. The notion of backyarding is here to stay.
Sarah Bearden CFO, DREAMSCAPES OUTDOOR LIVING AND PLAY, CARROLLTON, GEORGIA We have increased our Outdoor Living Division team for 2021 and made the tough decision to stop offering maintenance service to keep up with our installation projects. Looking at the trajectory for what most people are doing this year, we are seeing more clients choosing to stay home and invest in their properties, which gives so many opportunities to our field. Playsets are the newest toilet paper of 2021. They are selling out nationwide!
Dr . Allen Owings SENIOR HORTICULTURIST, BRACY’S NURSERY, AMITE, LOUISIANA People are gardening like never before, and that’s a good thing. But when you combine the increase in gardening and landscaping due to the pandemic then you take the winter freeze damage to nurseries across the country, we have a severe shortage of plant material this spring. Plant availability is very tight, and those relationships between landscapers and wholesale nurseries are key.
PRESIDENT, GARDEN MEDIA GROUP, WEST CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA
CEO, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONALS, FAIRFA X, VIRGINIA
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS, ROYAL BUILDING PRODUCTS, COLUMBUS, OHIO
With the surge of at-home cooking and the fear of food scarcity, many Americans are growing their own food for the first time. Show them how to mix edibles in ornamental beds, make them beautiful, unique and maintain them. And, according to a recent National Garden Bureau survey, 67% of respondents aged 35 and under shared that, while they want green grass, they want a wide variety of other plants in the rest of their yard. Round out hardscaping with native plants and easy-to-grow perennials. Create garden rooms for clients to enjoy with their family.
Landscape companies saw a huge demand in the last year for enhancements or new outdoor living spaces. As the pandemic pushed people outdoors, they found a renewed love of their yards. As a result, many companies continue to see an increased demand for new pools and hot tub areas, expanded patios, and features to extend their outdoor living to all four seasons—so the demand for outdoor fireplaces and landscaped fire pit areas also rose.
Through 2021, we will see a continued focus on upgrading outdoor living spaces, an interest in mixed materials for the exterior and the use of bold colors in design. Homeowners are investing more time and money into their outdoor spaces than ever before. As a result, there’s an increased demand for more customized decks, outdoor kitchens, as well as built-in dining and entertaining areas. Homeowners are also seeking out premium, low maintenance products, such as PVC composite decking and siding; as well as innovative materials, such as aluminum siding, for their exteriors.
Craig Klomparens FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, DAUER MANUFACTURING, LA VERGNE, TENNESSEE We expect continued demand for integrated lighting products where the light source is already set into the fixtures, versus the more common drop-in fixtures. With LED lighting already offering longevity and energy efficiency, integrated products offer even more efficacy, better warranties, a simpler installation process, and less labor long-term with the right quality products. Also, varying color temperatures that help set the mood, as customers seek enriching outdoor experiences, will continue to take dominance. Aesthetically important too is how the look transforms from day-toevening, further customized with powder-coated color options for (integrated) fixtures. Many times, we hear from our customers that clients want something that the neighbors don’t already have.
C O M I N G U P : W H AT S O LU T I O N S D O YO U H AV E FO R A D D R E S S I N G A N I N D U ST R Y-W I D E W O R K FO R C E S H O R TAG E ? E- M A I L O U R E D I T O R L A U R A L E E AT L A U R A . L E E @ E L J AYS 4 4 .C O M T O B E I N C LU D E D I N O U R N E X T I S S U E
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
ASSOCIATIONS ADDRESS LUMBER PRICES
he National Association of Homebuilders along with 35 organizations have sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging her to examine the lumber supply chain, identify the causes for high prices and supply constraints, and seek remedies to increase production. Since last spring, lumber prices have nearly tripled, and oriented strand board (OSB) prices are up more than 250 percent. “These spikes have caused the cost of building an average new single-family home to increase by more than $24,000 since mid-April 2020 according to the National Association of Home Builders standard estimates of lumber used to build the average home,” the letter
stated. “Similarly, the cost of the average new multifamily unit has increased by $9,000 over the same period due to the surge in lumber prices. Additionally, lumber and engineered wood products such as OSB are a large and important component of residential and commercial remodeling projects, such as hospitals, schools, offices and restaurants.” nahb.org
VECTORWORKS LAUNCHES ITS 2021 SERVICE PACK
lobal design and BIM software provider Vectorworks, Inc. has released its third service pack for the Vectorworks 2021 product line focusing on key updates for their architecture, landscape architecture and entertainment design customers. Some of the notable highlights include the new partnerships and functionality in Vectorworks Cloud Services, along with direct access to create and edit GDTF fixtures in the Vectorworks Spotlight interface. “The release of Vectorworks 2021 Service Pack 3 exemplifies our focus to provide quality and performance improvements for the industries we serve and ensure designers that their workflow is always fully supported,” said Vectorworks chief technology officer Steve Johnson. “Our dedication lies in partnering with applications that provide innovative technology solutions. From BIM workflows to entertainment industry product improvements and supporting further integrations with the GDTF standard, we continue to deliver solutions and progressive workflows giving designers the freedom to bring their visions to life.” vectorworks.net
N AT I O N A L G A R D E N B U R E AU A N N O U N C E S N E W CAT EG O RY
ational Garden Bureau, the non-profit organization promoting gardening in North America on behalf of the horticulture industry and its members, has announced the addition of houseplants to the popular and inspiring “Year of” program. Houseplant sales were booming before the COVID pandemic, and they are in even greater demand now. More home offices equals the
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
need for more houseplants. With National Garden Bureau’s expanding member base and more members offering houseplants, it’s natural to add this category to the long-established “Year of” program. The other five categories are: Bulbs, Annuals, Edibles, Perennials and Flowering Shrubs. For 2022, the houseplant class will be Peperomia. In order to aid breeders, growers and retailers in their crop planning, NGB is announcing the other
classes for 2022 at this time as well. They are: Annual: Verbena; Bulb: Gladiolus; Edible: Salad Greens; Flowering Shrub: Lilac; Perennial: Phlox The “Year of the” program chooses crops specifically for the North American market that are easy to grow, genetically diverse, and with a lot of new breeding to showcase. Breeders, brokers, seed companies, growers and garden centers throughout the US and Canada are urged to use this program as part of their marketing efforts. ngb.org
PRO LANDSCAPER MAGAZINE HEADS OUT WEST
he international Pro Landscaper brand of magazines and green industry resources is expanding its footprint this year. Pro Landscaper USA South launched in 2020 and Pro Landscaper USA West will debut later this year, followed by Pro Landscaper USA Midwest and Northeast in 2022. The Pro Landscaper brand was established in the UK by Eljays44 media company in 2011. The company expanded to the Middle East in 2013 and then to South Africa in 2015. “No matter where we are in the world, our goal is the same: bring the whole of the
landscaping sector together to inform, educate, share and inspire,” says Jim Wilkinson, founder and president of Eljays44. “We look forward to bringing our magazine and our signature FutureScape event to more professionals across the US. Together, we can tackle universal issues from workforce shortages to design challenges and climate change.” For more information or to receive a subscription, email US managing director at firstname.lastname@example.org. south.prolandscaperusa.com
M AT U R E T R E E S S AV E D I N F LO R I DA D E V E LO P M E N T
master-planned community in Venice, Florida, is spending $1 million to relocate 26 mature trees. Wellen Park’s Heritage Tree Program will not only save these trees but help create an immediate sense of authenticity and scale for Downtown Wellen. Expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2022, Phase 1 of Downtown Wellen will include retail shops, waterfront dining and other restaurants, a town hall, playground and splash pad, a food truck area, an outfitter equipped with e-bikes, paddle boards and kayaks for enjoying the active lake, and a three-mile wellness trail.
ASL A APPL AUDS SIX SOUTHERN SITES
SLA’s online exhibition demonstrating climate change solutions now features 30 case studies, including six sites in the South. The idea for the exhibition came as a result of the Smart Policies for a Changing Climate report. “These projects clearly show how landscape architects can help all kinds of communities reduce their risk to increasingly severe climate impacts,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, ASLA CEO. “Landscape architects design with nature, which leads to more resilient solutions that also improve community health, safety and well-being over the long-term.” New for 2021 include the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center and The
AS LA HOUSTON ARBORETUM
Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design in Atlanta. By removing trees and restoring the original prairie, savanna and woodland eco-systems found at the Houston Arboretum, landscape architects with Design Workshop and Reed Hilderbrand designed a landscape naturally resilient to future climate shocks such as drought and hurricanes. For the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, landscape architects with Andropogon integrated an innovative water management system that captures and reuses 100 percent of stormwater runoff and reuses building greywater in the landscape. Other sites include the Buffalo Bayou Promenade in Houston by SWA Group; Gentilly Community Adaptation Program in New Orleans by DesignJones; South Cypress Creek and West Junction Neighborhood Design Implementation in Shelby County, Tennessee by Sasaki; and Oakencroft Farm in Central Virginia by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. asla.org
“This was the right thing to do both from a conservation point of view as well as creating a sense of place,” said Christine Masney, vice president of marketing for Wellen Park. “These trees are beautiful and worth saving, plus they will allow us to create a truly special environment at the entrance to Downtown Wellen and throughout the community.” Trees range from 14-96 inches in diameter, and most are 60-80 years old. Annually, the 26 oak trees remove thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year while generating oxygen, as well as minimizing rainwater runoff. Planning, engineering and design firm Kimley-Horn and tree transplantation company Environmental Design were tapped for the project. Paul Cox, Eastern division vice president for Environmental Design and an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, says root pruning can increase the life span of an older tree, ensuring it remains healthy for generations to come. wellenpark.com
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
PLANT SHORTAGE CRISIS MARC ELLIOTT OFFERS TIPS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH THE PLANT SHORTAGE CRISIS OF 2021
OVID-19 unleashed a domino effect throughout the industry in 2020. Closures related to the pandemic halted operations across multiple types of businesses in the green industry. Nurseries and growing facilities that largely depended on foreign labor were severely impacted and continue to be restricted by the travel restrictions put in place. Additionally, since plug manufacturers were unable to produce expected amounts, plant vendors were unable to get their hands on plugs. Perennials specifically are in a short-term shortage for this reason.
I BELIEVE THE PLANT SHORTAGE OF 2021 WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT EVERY DECISION YOU MAKE FOR YOUR LANDSCAPING BUSINESS The next complication came in the form of increased plant demands. Purchasing surged when everyone was unexpectedly at home and spending more time renovating their backyards and living areas. As a result, the residential landscaping sector saw a mini boom. Axios Marketing research confirms that this trend will increase in 2021. Stock has been flying off the shelves from nurseries and home gardening centers, and it won’t slow down any time soon. Concurrent to the home gardening boom, cities upped their planting game as well. If we think back, our attention turned to climate change around the same time that the pandemic hit. Risk management to
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
counter the negative effects of climate in urban environments became a prime concern for cities across the country. Then, there was the recent devastation caused by the cold wave in Texas and across the Southeast. The cold killed off many plants in nurseries around the South. How landscaping businesses are handling shortages Some within the industry are having a harder time with the plant shortage than others. Many landscapers are locked into contracts for postponed jobs from last season or for new jobs from this season. In the meantime, based on our own estimates, the prices are expected to go up by 10 to 15% in 2021 due to the demand-supply mismatch. Landscapers will unfortunately have to shoulder this price increase, eating into their bottom line. Nurseries are seeing growth thanks to the sudden influx of demand in plants, and highly desirable stock is flying off their shelves. The
caveat is that landscapers are struggling to find nurseries carrying plant materials the architects have requested. As a result, landscapers are developing closer relationships with the nurseries and architects to find alternatives that satisfy everyone. Another interesting trend to note is the increase in delivery costs. As certain varieties become rarer in local markets, plants are coming and going from farther away. Wholesalers, landscapers and clients alike gain from a broader reach in plant materials, but with a higher delivery cost. Our team noticed that a significant portion of landscapers in our network invested in project management software in 2020 or upgraded their technological systems. Plant shortages are forcing us to keep a closer eye on our profits, our inventory and our manpower. Software providers are sure to see growth as the industry looks for better management tools. With the increased
FOXTAIL FERNS ARE IN SHORT SUPPLY
urgency to get organized brought on by the plant shortages, I’m confident the trend to digitize will continue. Strategies to manage shortages So, what can we do about the shortages? Here are a few recommendations: • Get organized. Book orders in advance and be ready to place a deposit when you reserve your plant materials. • If you have not already started doing so, this is the perfect opportunity to fine-tune communication with your architects. Be flexible with specs this year. • Expand your network of nurseries. A broker with connections outside of your location will expand your reach with little to no effort from your end. • Stay on top of which popular plants are experiencing a shortage in your area and look for successful substitutes. • For nurseries, monitor your inventory closely to adjust stock. If you haven’t done so already, an investment in smarter inventory management software could help you stay ahead of demand trends and grow your business. I believe the plant shortage of 2021 will significantly impact every decision you make for your landscaping business. It sounds bleak, but we’ve been through cycles of oversupply and undersupply before. I remember a few years back Autumn Blaze maples were so popular that they ended up on all contracts. As a result, many vendors filled up acres of space to fulfill that demand. Fast forward to today—there is a lot less demand for these maples, yet the
stock is still sitting in many farms, occupying space that could be better utilized for something more in demand. If only trees could grow as fast as the landscaping trends move! The lag between supply and demand is hard until things balance out. But with more awareness comes more preparedness. We’re a hardy industry, and we can weather this storm, too.
ABOUT MARC ELLIOTT Marc Elliott is the CEO and co-founder of GoMaterials, an online marketplace for sourcing plant materials for landscaping professionals.
SUCCESSFUL SUBSTITUTES • Ming Fern or ‘Silver Lady’ Fern for Foxtail Fern • Hostas or Green Shell Ginger for Variegated Shell Ginger • Fountain Grass for Fakahatchee Grass • Kimberly Fern for Boston Fern • Purple Love Grass for Pink Muhly
FROZEN PALM, TEXAS
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021 13
DEBORAH COLE GIRL POWER
DEBORAH COLE SAYS IT’S TIME FOR THE GREEN INDUSTRY TO CHANGE THE RULES AND IMPROVE THE GAME
n her leadership book “Wolfpack,” two-time Olympic gold medalist Abby Wambach speaks to those who understand that sometimes a game must be changed in order to improve it. She writes: “If we keep playing by the old rules, we will never change the game.” Today, our green industry career game suggests that we have total freedom to be or do whatever we desire—all in the pursuit of how we live out our life’s purpose. On close examination, is this accurate? Have we really “come a long way, baby” as the old commercial of the 70s suggests? Wambach
ALTHOUGH, THE DAYS OF ‘LESS THAN’ ARE NEARING THE END, THERE IS STILL PROGRESS TO BE MADE also writes that old rules of her sport say to “play it safe and pass the ball.” New rules are “believe in yourself and demand the ball.” This might also be applied to the professional path of women in the green industry. Some of the old unwritten rules which exist for women include: act like a lady, be grateful for what you are given, be patient and wait for permission to lead, and finally, simply stay in your lane. Women in past decades did not vote, did not maintain their own bank accounts or credit cards, did not work after
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
marriage or childbirth, and those who did work were primarily in support roles rather than leadership. As a successful landscape business owner on the cusp of elevation to the presidency of the state contractors’ association, I was asked if I thought I could handle all of the duties. I was pregnant at the time. Old rules have been unraveling since the 60s and fortunately women of today no longer must settle for the limitations of past generations. We accept the role of game changers in our personal as well as professional lives. Although, the days of “less than” are nearing the end, there is still progress to be made. Companies such as LandCare are actively working to provide opportunities for women as well as role models in management. Mark Hopkins, executive vice president, is very proud of the Women’s Initiative Network
in their company. This group, founded by and led by women, focuses on female mentorship and coaching within LandCare to develop allies for women in business. They also direct
IT IS UP TO ALL OF US, MEN AND WOMEN, TO CHANGE THE RULES AND IMPROVE THE GAME a male-focused educational program to help bring awareness of issues impacting women in the workplace. As Hopkins says: “The overall reason for the program is because it’s the right thing to do.” Today, we have a female vice president of the United States for the first time. Women own 40% of all of the businesses in the US and approximately 30% of all senior management is female. In the green industry, we cannot yet claim these numbers. It is up to all of us, men and women, to change the rules and improve the game.
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.
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BROOKE INZERELLA WHAT’S TRENDING?
BROOKE INZERELLA SHEDS LIGHT ON WHAT CLIENTS MIGHT BE ASKING FOR IN 2021 The truth is that the day-to-day challenges of running a business can sometimes overwhelm our capacity to think creatively. But this is a design industry, which gives us the freedom and opportunity to think creatively and build inspiring outdoor environments that are unique and unusual for our area. It is the best feature of my job!
THIS IS A DESIGN INDUSTRY, WHICH GIVES US THE FREEDOM AND OPPORTUNITY TO THINK CREATIVELY AND BUILD INSPIRING OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENTS THAT ARE UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL The latest pool designs When we design and build turnkey outdoor spaces, we are noticing that pools and outdoor kitchens are becoming more modern in design and shape, and their functions are changing a little as well. We all remember the pools of our childhoods with diving boards and massive slides. But today’s clients want adult hangouts and an overall outdoor environment that is entertaining and relaxing for the entire family. Pools are being installed for their young kids to enjoy now, but with the
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
rt and design trends happen on a continual basis in fashion, design, architecture, technology and culture. Every year, paint companies announce their “color of the year,” and interior designers take note. New trends do happen in the landscape industry as well, but in a seemingly slower fashion. But this makes sense, too, as it’s much easier to change your wardrobe or paint the living room than it is to replace your landscaping or backyard environment. And living and working in the South will mean that adaptation to new design trends in architecture and horticulture will generally be slower still.
functionality and timelessness for future empty nesting. This means shallow ends for lounging and cocktails, sports-depth pools, robust oversized spas nearby, wellappointed outdoor kitchens and areas that allow people to feel like they are on vacation in their own backyard. In the past five years, we haven’t designed any free-form pools, as the trend toward modern, grid-like shapes and patterns has become the most popular design standard. Coping and hardscapes have been trending away from multi-colored stones to a more modern aesthetic of white, neutrals and simple basic shapes, reflective of the
modern farmhouse and minimal aesthetic. Our scupper and water feature choices are trending to sleek and modern. Gone are the days of lion heads spewing water—at least for now. In addition, saltwater pools were very popular here for a while. We are now steering and educating our clients of the corrosive nature of salt and trending towards chlorine once again.
Landscaping trends On the landscaping side of business, I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years of clients requesting edible gardens and landscaping that includes edibles. Our clients are becoming more aware of, and requesting, native plants, trees and shrubs added to their landscapes for the environmental benefits they provide as well. Our landscape designs focus more on textures and foliage colors,
with less emphasis on flowering plants and shrubs only. This has been a welcome trend for us in south Louisiana as the tried-and-true
BEING INSTRUMENTAL IN ADAPTING TO NEW TRENDS AND BRINGING OUR CLIENTS ABOARD IS ALWAYS A LITTLE MORE CHALLENGING—BUT ALSO THE MOST REWARDING landscape trinity of azaleas, camellias and crepe myrtles was always just a safe design option for designers for far too long. Not to say that these three plants don’t have merit—they do. But there’s less reliance on these options to carry the overall design. Lastly, synthetic turf has really improved in quality, sustainability and appearance in the past few years and we’re finding some really great applications for it in many of our residential projects and our clients are eagerly adapting to it! And, of course, using technology to improve our lives and make our homes more
efficient has definitely crossed over to the outside of the home. Our clients are techsavvy now, and they definitely want the new tools to manage their exterior lighting, pool equipment and irrigation systems. Keeping abreast of new trends in landscape design and architecture is the easy part. Being instrumental in adapting to new trends and bringing our clients aboard is always a little more challenging—but also the most rewarding.
ABOUT BROOKE INZERELLA Brooke Inzerella is a licensed landscape horticulturist and owner of Horticare Landscape Company in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
Let ’s Hear it From
LESLIE HERNDON GREENSCAPE, INC.
LESLIE HERNDON IS PRESIDENT OF GREENSCAPE, INC. IN HOLLY SPRINGS, NORTH CAROLINA AS WELL AS PRESIDENT OF THE NORTH CAROLINA NURSERY AND LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATION
How did you get into the industry? I got into horticulture in high school. My mom was into plants and my great uncle owned a nursery. I was able to take horticulture classes and was part of the FFA. I went to NC State and got a degree in horticulture. I worked after school and summers in a garden center, in a wholesale nursery, and the extension service part-time. I also participated in the ag fraternities and on competition teams that are now part of the NALP.
How long have you been with Greenscape? I’ve been here for 19 years and just became president a year ago after serving as vice president of operations. How many employees do you have? In peak season we can have 160 or 180, depending upon what’s going on. What kind of clients do you serve? We are strictly commercial. We handle HOAs, hospitals, shopping centers, retail,
office buildings, industrial, municipal, apartment complexes, etc. How much of your business is maintenance? Seventy-five percent. What are the advantages of doing maintenance as well as design-build? When we went through the recession of 2008-09, we really saw the benefit of being in the maintenance market in a big way.
COMMERCIAL MAINTENANCE IS A MUCH MORE STABLE INCOME DURING TIMES OF VOLATILITY IN THE MARKET Commercial maintenance is a much more stable income during times of volatility in the market. These commercial sites have to be maintained no matter what is happening, as do municipals and HOAs. They are all set up in
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
a way to look more long-term and need to continue to keep tenants and end users happy to keep existing business in place. Whereas with installation, those projects can be halted, and commercial financing can take a while to start flowing again after downturns because the landscape project is at the end of the cycle. What is your specialty? When I joined the company, I came on as a horticulture foreman. I love the floral design and the living wall design and still like to keep my hands in that. I still do the creative side of living walls and go out and plant those. We have a vendor who grows them out for me.
PEOPLE LOVE TO TAKE PICTURES, AND WE THINK OF LIVING WALLS AS WAYS PEOPLE CAN INTERACT WITH THE PROPERTY
Tell us more about your living walls. People love to take pictures, and we think of living walls as ways people can interact with the property. I’m all about color. At Village District shopping center in Raleigh, we have four to six living walls at a time. We have one that’s freestanding and double-sided, and people like to take their picture with their head in the middle of it. We do our living walls every six months. They hang almost like kitchen cabinets. We have an irrigation system in place that waters everything. One of our
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employees services that property six times a week. We do all the flowerpots, flower beds and the living walls. Who is your plant source? PlantWorks orders them, I plant them, and they grow them out and deliver them to me. How is landscaping different for your hospital clients? You have to focus on what people can see from the inside even more so. You have to think about lighting. You need the campus to be inviting and navigable at night. In the winter, a lot of visitors come after 5pm. We take care of snow and ice removal—that’s critical. Safety is key. Color is also important, especially at the entrances. You want to give people some kind of joy when they’re coming in. Have clients’ demands changed since this pandemic began? People have started looking at outdoor spaces differently. A few of our clients are starting to invest more in outdoor environments. A driving factor in one of our renovations was creating more outdoor covered spaces for employees; we’ve been working on awning systems and outdoor seating.
You seem to do a lot for employee engagement, from bowling nights and pot lucks to Green Team Dreams. Can you tell us more? For Green Team Dreams, we budget for and award “dreams” to our employees. They can either request a dream for themselves or they can be nominated by another employee. Those dreams then get reviewed and voted on by an employee committee (keeping anything confidential that needs to be kept that way). We have been doing this for a few years. We have bought dinner for couples, bikes for kids, paid water or electrical bills, helped buy plane tickets for family, vehicle repairs—all depending on our employees’ needs. What are the benefits of a being part of an association? The lesson I learned through my clubs and competition teams in college is to move ahead in any industry, and especially this one; to grow your career and make a difference, you really need to know people and build long-term relationships in the industry. The yearly conference, trade shows, and other resources they provide help me meet new people but also nurture my past relationships with people who are now all over the state.
GREENSCAPE COLLEAGUES RECEIVING GREEN TEAM AWARDS
WE HAVE BOUGHT DINNER FOR COUPLES, BIKES FOR KIDS, PAID WATER OR ELECTRICAL BILLS, HELPED BUY PLANE TICKETS FOR FAMILY, VEHICLE REPAIRS It’s been really helpful for me to get a wider perspective of the industry—from landscapers to the nurseries to the retail. You can predict trends or see plant shortages coming. You can stay in touch with the educational institutions which is important for research but also for our future workforce. What are the association’s biggest challenges for 2021? We as an industry need to think outside the box on hiring. We saw our industry really coming together during COVID, and we’ve been careful to protect our status as essential. How will the pandemic affect construction revenue? How will our commercial clients be impacted? COVID-19 is something we’ll still have to address in 2021 and maybe 2022.
C O N TA C T Greenscape, Inc. Tel: 919.552.7742 ASSOCIATION AND COMPANY ENGAGEMENT
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NOVEMBER 4, 2021 • ATLANTA, GA 9am - 5pm • Computer Museum of America • 5000 Commerce Pkwy, Roswell, GA 30076
SOUTH USA, UNITED KINGDOM, SOUTH AFRICA
We’re proud to bring the world’s leading landscaping trade event to the US this year, covering Design + Build + Maintain. No matter where we are in the world, our goal is the same: Bring the landscaping sector together to inform, educate, share and inspire.
Educational seminars from experts • Tradeshow of the latest products, plants and equipment • Networking with industry leaders • Interactive debates that ignite change • And more!
WOFFORD COLLEGE, SC
PINNACLE LIGHTING GROUP GEORGIA’S PINNACLE LIGHTING GROUP HAS BROUGHT LANDSCAPE DESIGNS TO LIFE FOR 21 YEARS
QUEENS UNIVERSITY, NC
ore than 20 years ago, Jim and Tricia Burks started Pinnacle Lighting Group with one person and a pick-up truck. Today, Jim and his team work with high-end residential and commercial clients all over the country. They employ 15 people, including nieces, nephews, his brother, sisters, and even their 88-year-old father. It was actually Jim’s sister-in-law who got him into the business. He was a farmer in Ohio at the time, and she was working with a lighting company in Georgia and needed an extra set of hands. Jim obliged, and after his first lighting job in 1999, he was hooked. “The first time I turned a project’s lightson, I knew that was it,” says Jim. “We worked together for three years and
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then started Pinnacle Lighting. I’ve never looked back since.” Even though Jim made a big career switch after decades of farming, he had actually been playing around with lighting his whole life. Growing up on a dairy farm, young Jim installed
THE FIRST TIME I TURNED A PROJECT’S LIGHTS ON, I KNEW THAT WAS IT lighting on new equipment and converted the family barn into a make-shift basketball court, rigging up equipment to properly light the court. Today, his designs are much more sophisticated. Pinnacle Lighting Group
uses revolutionary techniques for artistic security lighting, moonlighting, architectural and landscape lighting. Projects range from $5,000 to $1.5M for various clients such as estates, family compounds, universities, multifamily complexes, office buildings, golf courses, etc. “We really take the credit for work we didn’t do,” says Jim. “The main thing we try to do is show off the work of professional landscapers, architects and contractors through the best lighting techniques.” Jim credits Tom Eaves from Landarc Consulting Group for helping him launch his business. “Tom helped us close our first 12 projects, and we are still working with him today,” says Jim. “Most of our lighting business comes from referrals within the trade industry, and many like Tom are repeat business.”
RESIDENTIAL PROJECT IN CLEVELAND, OH
RESIDENTIAL PROJECT IN BILOXI, MS
THE MAIN THING WE TRY TO DO IS SHOW OFF THE WORK OF PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPERS, ARCHITECTS AND CONTRACTORS THROUGH THE BEST LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
CUSTOM POOL LIGHTING
The firm recently completed major lighting projects at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina. “There had been some assaults on other campuses across the country and the donor’s main concern was safety and security,” says Jim. “The campuses were so dark; students
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JIM’S LIGHTING TIPS • Rather than going for one bright light, install several lower wattage lights • When moonlighting, lights should be installed 5 or 10 feet from the top of the trees • Subtlety is key • Less is more • Check your work at night • Lighting should match the personality of the client, not ours • Avoid using spikes— they are harmful to trees CUSTOM POOL LIGHTING
were walking around using the flashlights on their phones. And the schools have some incredible trees and buildings you just couldn’t appreciate after dark.” Pinnacle Lighting spent around a month on each campus. Their lighting installations not only made the campuses safer and more attractive, but they also cut down on electricity, replacing inefficient mercury vapor and halogen lights with smart LEDs. Wofford College alone saves 44,000 watts each night. “The one main building at Wofford dates back to 1854, and the lighting really set it off beautifully,” says Jim. “Besides architectural lighting, we also installed landscape lighting and moonlighting way up in the trees and played off the shadowing of the limbs. It really has a great effect.” Pinnacle Lighting employs a landscape architect on staff, and Jim is a licensed
electrician, although he prefers to work alongside the homeowner’s electrician. They also provide maintenance to all of their clients, checking on their projects twice a year. “Our creative process starts with meeting the homeowner or the client,” he says. “A few years into the business, we learned the hard way: if you’re not talking directly to the homeowners, you’re in trouble.” Their landscape architect does all of the sketches, and the crew goes on site to install the lighting, fine-tuning the tones and brightness at night to get the project just right. “You can really change the color of a house with the lighting,” says Jim. “The kelvin can bring out the greens or grays, or set off the stone around the pool. It really accentuates the landscaping.” PGA CHAMPIONSHIP TOUR, QUAIL HOLLOW COUNTRY CLUB, CHARLOTTE NC
A FEW YEARS INTO THE BUSINESS, WE LEARNED THE HARD WAY: IF YOU’RE NOT TALKING DIRECTLY TO THE HOMEOWNERS, YOU’RE IN TROUBLE Jim says outdoor LED lighting projects are extremely efficient, costing residential clients only about $80-$100 a year in electricity to run the lights all night. Jim has a few favorite projects over the years, from a historic home in New Orleans to a 100-year-old estate in Cleveland. He also helped Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina get ready for TV coverage during the PGA Championship Tour. “We do whatever it takes, whether it’s a half-day install or a months-long project,” he says. “We wake up and try to serve more people the best we can every day. It’s been a fun ride.”
C O N TA C T Pinnacle Lighting Group (888) 338-0186 firstname.lastname@example.org
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PORTFOLIO 2: DELPHI DREAMS
I N S I D E I N S P I R E T H I S M O N T H PAG E 26 THE RIS E OF STEEL , PAG E 2 8 P O R T FO L I O 1 : M E M P H I S P L A Z A , PAG E 3 2 P O R T FO L I O 2 : D E L P H I D R E A M S , PAG E 3 6 P O R T FO L I O 3 : U R B A N OA S I S
teel has become the quintessential element in the outdoor living space. From function to form, steel has the power to take an outdoor space to the next level, adding a touch of modern sophistication and sustainability. Using steel to create unique outdoor features has become a passion of Cheri Stringer’s, principal partner and lead designer at TLC Gardens design build firm in Colorado. TLC Garden’s team has harnessed the strength and adaptability of this timeless material in their outdoor renovations and in the new signature line of TLC Steel products. For almost 20 years, Cheri Stringer and the TLC team have been on a mission to create outdoor environments of lasting meaning, value and joy by connecting their clients to nature. “Steel elevates our clients’ lives,” says Cheri. “It brings enjoyment and a sophisticated elegance to the outdoor living experience.” Designing with steel in the outdoors allows landscape designers to integrate features aesthetically and functionally from design to construction, while also elevating the impact in the end design. Uses for steel in the modern outdoor space include framing,
THE RISE OF
ST E E L TLC GARDENS USES STEEL TO BRING ELEGANCE AND QUALITY TO A SPACE
creating transition, textural contrast, compression, playfulness, artistic functionality, privacy and enhancement of view corridors and flow patterns, to name a few. Steel elements can be simultaneously structural and sculptural. The steel and wood moon gate crafted for TLC’s Söng Ranch project is a stunning example of steel’s multidimensional uses. In this unique outdoor environment, the custom steel and cedar moon gate frames the Tai Chi studio space, emphasizing the
transition between public practice space and the client’s private residence. The steel structure underlying the wood reinforces the moon shape and creates a view corridor of the natural boulder water feature within. At TLC’s Gallagher Farm project, the deep window wells along the edge of the home posed a steep drop-off in the backyard. During the renovation, the window wells were reinforced with custom designed steel walls and outlined with stone, separating them from the outdoor living area. A steel pergola was added, establishing an intimate outdoor dining area and terrace where the client’s grandchildren can run and play safely in the finished space. On this site, the custom steel elements were fabricated with raw steel and treated with muriatic acid for an even patina and a rustic appeal, accentuating the home’s modern farmhouse style. TLC integrated a matching steel utility enclosure, customized to block the trash cans from view while also dampening sound for added privacy. The steel utility enclosure has a sculptural effect while also acting as a solution in the design. When designing and building with steel, consider sheet thickness and tensile strength for structural endurance. For instance, the
STEEL AND WOOD MOON GATE, SÖNG RANCH PROJECT
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STEEL PERGOLA AT SHARP VIEW
STEEL UTILITY ENCLOSURE, GALLAGHER FARM
center piece of the moon gate was thinner gauge steel for added flexibility to fit the moon curve. Alternatively, the steel utility enclosure required a thick, durable gauge steel to be able to add insulation from road noise. At Hilltop Courtyard, the steel pergola was designed for a small, modern courtyard to create a welcoming, family gathering space. The adaptability of steel empowers designers to customize pergolas, planters, fire pits and other unique features to fit the size and scale of the site. TLC’s modern steel planters showcase the plant material within, elevating even a simple outdoor experience with thoughtful steel design. As an added bonus,
STEEL ELEMENTS CAN BE SIMULTANEOUSLY STRUCTURAL AND SCULPTURAL weathered steel can be powder-coated to match the color palette of the home or landscape. At Contra Verde, custom powder coated steel planters frame the front entryway, enriching the experience and sense of arrival. Meanwhile in the backyard, steel planters not only frame each functional area, but they also act as transitional elements between the home and the outdoor living spaces. Basil and other seasonal culinary herbs are conveniently within reach in the steel planters lining the outdoor dining patio. Whether it be a residential or commercial outdoor environment, the possibilities for creative solutions and innovation with steel are infinite. Steel elevates the outdoor experience and leaves a lasting impression.
HILLTOP COURTYARD PERGOLA
STEEL PLANTER TREATED WITH MURIATIC ACID
POWDER COATED PLANTERS, CONTRA VERDE
ABOUT TLC GARDENS TLC Gardens is a design build firm in Boulder, Colorado. It is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
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PROJECT D E TA I L S
Project value $1.8m Sculpture $700,000 Build time Oct 2017 to April 2018 Size of project .6 acre
J O H N JAC KSO N I I I , O F J PA I N C AND CLIFF GARTEN STUDIO
A MEMPHIS PLAZA HONORS 1,300 SANITATION WORKERS AND DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.’S FINAL CAUSE
owerful words, “I AM A MAN,” are the centerpiece of a new plaza in Memphis. Derived from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, the slogan held special meaning during the Sanitation Workers Strike of 1968 in the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement. In February of that year, two African-American garbage collectors in Memphis were crushed to death by a malfunctioning truck. This final straw in a litany of neglect and abuse within the city department impelled 1,300 black men to walk off the job. Their protest for better working conditions drew the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who came to Memphis to support the strikers. On April 3, he delivered his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” speech. The next day, he was assassinated. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sanitation Workers Strike and Dr. King’s
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death, the City of Memphis brought together a dynamic team to build a public plaza. “The mayor of Memphis had the forethought to bring on an African-American
JOHN JACKSON III
landscape architect for the work, and we were honored to be selected,” says John Jackson III, of JPA Inc. “We worked closely with Venice, California artist and sub-consultant Cliff Garten, who developed the I AM A MAN sculpture and conceptual site plan.”
The plaza was constructed next to Clayborn Temple, a rallying site in the protest and a half-mile from the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, the site where King was shot. At its center is Cliff’s 12-foot sculpture with the slogan “I AM A MAN.” Laser cut into the giant block letters is the text of King’s “Mountaintop” speech. “I struggled with what form the sculpture would take, and I realized the strikers had already made the sculpture through their words,” says Cliff, whose design was selected from an international competition. “You also had Dr. King’s very radical speech about corporations, the American government and the Vietnam War that is still relevant today.” Cliff designed his sculpture with two sides, one bronze, the other stainless steel. “When you look into the text and read it, you
are seeing the reflection of yourself in Dr. King’s speech,” says Cliff. “This is a request that people face their own racism.” Cognizant of monuments being taken down around the country, the project team saw an opportunity to create a 21st-century experience, a new model for what monuments could be like. “We wanted to create a horizontal space that invites people in to question history,” says Cliff.
TEXT IS REALLY AN IMPORTANT PIECE IN THE EXPERIENCE—IT WAS PURELY DIDACTIC. THERE WAS SO MUCH POWERFUL HISTORY TO WORK WITH In order to achieve this, Jackson says they focused on the entry experience, drawing in visitors to an enclosed, meditative space outdoors. The team installed two curved gates from carved marble to funnel in the visitor, with the statue as the immediate focal point. The power of words is understood from the start of the experience. Etched into the entryway are contemplative thoughts from the public, who answered Dr. King’s question: ‘Where do we go from here?’ Their answers were gathered at public meetings held at Clayborn Temple led by Memphis Urban Art Commission and spoken word artists Stephen Fox and Troy L. Wiggins. Granite pavers create a pathway in the plaza and provide different viewing points of the sculpture. Etched into a large elliptical granite paving ring is a timeline of the strike. Anchoring the back of the plaza is a granite wall with the names of all 1,300 workers. “Text is really an important piece in the experience—it was purely didactic,”
1 2 3 4 5
‘I Am A Man’ Plaza at night Marble gates and Clayborn Temple The marble gates Story of the strike The mirrored side of the sculpture Photographs ©Cliff Garten Studio
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says Cliff. “There was so much powerful history to work with.” In order to soften the hardscape elements and enhance the visitor experience, plant design was vital. “A site with that much hardscape doesn’t have any moving parts, so we needed to create some movement,” says John. “We planted grass along the promenade, so it blows around and softens the ground plane.”
WE LOVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH THE NEXT GENERATION ABOUT THE PAST THROUGH OUR DESIGN Different grasses selected include hameln, Mexican feather grass and pink muhly. Other plants selected for the site include willow oaks, pond cypress trees and Chinese pistacia trees. “We didn’t want to block the beautiful stained-glass window of the church, so we selected a pond cypress since it grows narrow and has great fall color,” says John. “We planted a ring of willow oaks behind the commemorative wall to frame it. These were
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6 ‘I AM A MAN’ sculpture at night 7 The entrance to the plaza 8 Visitors interact with the ‘I AM A MAN’ sculpture 9 Plaza overview Photographs ©Cliff Garten Studio
©Urban Art Commission
PA R T N E R S & S U P P L I E R S Landscape architect John Jackson III JPA, Inc.
SANITATION WORKERS OF 1968
chosen because they are deciduous but hold their leaves until December and then drop them all at once.” At night, the plaza takes on an entirely different feel thanks to Cliff’s lighting design. The granite dedicatory wall and marble walls are lit up with ground-level uplighting, while the sculpture is illuminated from the inside, allowing the words to glow at night.
around the country. Other significant sites include the MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta; Tuskegee University and Hank Aaron Park in Alabama; and the MLK Reflection Park and Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. John, who grew up south of Memphis in Clinton, Mississippi, has been proud to leave a tangible legacy of Civil Rights in the South.
WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET SOME OF THE WORKERS AT THE GRAND OPENING, AND THEY WERE QUITE TOUCHED
“Our firm is probably the foremost authority on projects specifically related to African-American culturally sensitive and significant projects,” he says. “We love the opportunity to teach the next generation about the past through our design.”
A B O U T J O H N J AC KS O N I I I John Jackson III is President and CEO of JPA Inc., a Memphis, Tennessee firm specializing in urban design, planning and landscape architecture. He received his bachelor’s in landscape architecture from Mississippi State University and completed the Minority Executive Business Program at Dartmouth.
A B O U T C L I F F G A RT E N John says the plaza has been well-received by locals and tourists alike, but one especially important group: the sanitation workers who participated in the protest more than 50 years ago. “We had the opportunity to meet some of the workers at the grand opening, and they were quite touched.” says John. “It was really incredible.”
Sculptor Cliff Garten cliffgartenstudio.com
I AM A MAN Plaza is just one of dozens of Civil Rights projects JPA has completed
Cliff Garten is an internationally recognized sculptor and the founder of Cliff Garten Studio in Venice, California. Garten received a master of fine arts in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of design and a master of landscape architecture with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Landscape contractor Michael Hatcher Associates www.hatcherlandscape.com Project management AllWorld Project Management allwordpm.com Bronze sculpture casting Metal Arts Foundry www.mtlarts.com Marble and granite fabricator Quarra Stone Company www.quarrastone.com General contractor Precise Contracting www.2precise.com Masonry Whitney Anderson Building Group www.whitney-anderson.com Engineer Patrell Engineering Group www.patrell.com Poets/spoken word artists Troy L. Wiggins, www.troylwiggins.com Stephen Fox www.stevefoxpoetry.com
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im Lesti, a retired landscape architect and former partner of Landscape Studio, ended his career on a high note with his work on Delphi Gardens, a beautiful private residence and event venue in the north Atlanta hills. Dr. Evan Demestihas loves entertaining his grandchildren as well as hosting events and fundraisers at his home. He called on Jim to design a greenhouse, orchards, bocce ball court, party space, water features and a personalized garden for each grandchild. “I had worked with him years ago on a pool project when I was with a different firm, and he called me out of the blue to work on this,” recalls Jim. “I was so honored he remembered me.” After working for six years on Delphi Gardens, Jim’s work is finally 100% complete. “It’s been a long process, but I’ve enjoyed going there every day,” says Jim. “Dr. Demestihas is demanding, but he’s the most pleasurable person—he lets me do my thing. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my career.” A trained landscape architect from The Ohio State University, Jim has gravitated toward design-build projects.
THERE’S MORE INSTANT GRATIFICATION IN DESIGNBUILD. YOU HAVE MORE CONTROL OF THE PROCESS, AND I LOVE THE BACK-AND-FORTH WITH THE CLIENT “There’s more instant gratification in design-build,” he says. “You have more control of the process, and I love the back-and-forth with the client.” The property features various elevations. At the top is a beautiful chapel with stone brought in from Greece, where Dr. Demestihas’ family is from. From the top floor, guests can take in beautiful views of the pastoral property and Kennesaw Mountain. The property’s lowest elevation is “The Bowl,” a sunken garden dedicated
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DREAMS JIM LESTI IT’S THE DRE AM JOB ANY LANDSCAPE DESIGNER WANTS – A BIG BUDGET, AN OPEN-MINDED CLIENT, AND PLENTY OF SPACE TO WORK IN
PROJECT D E TA I L S Project value $1m (not including structures) Build time 6 years Size of project 9 acres
to his family with meandering trails, stone staircases and waterfalls. “We designed a garden for each of his eight grandchildren plus two extra for any in the future,” Jim says. “He loves Japanese maples, so we planted a different type in each grandchild’s garden. He also selected different iron sculptures for each child. Everything looks personal yet cohesive.”
WE DESIGNED A GARDEN FOR EACH OF HIS EIGHT GRANDCHILDREN PLUS TWO EXTRA FOR ANY IN THE FUTURE The team, with help from notable carpenter Lawrence Smith, built a greenhouse on the foundation of the property’s old barn, maintaining the building’s original L-shape design. On the side of the greenhouse is
a dramatic stone waterfall. Fanning out behind the building is an orchard with olive, pear, peach and apple trees. Delphi Gardens also includes stables and horse trails. Mrs. Demestihas provides animal therapy to special needs children. The nearby bocce ball court was made with slate chips, and Smith also built other natural cedar arbors around the property including structures to hold the equipment. In the main entertainment area, the circular bar features a granite top, an arbor roof with a steel beam, and gray rubal stone sourced from Tennessee quarries. The bluestone patio is large enough to accommodate a family gathering or serve as a dance floor for special events. Each year, Dr. Demestihas hosts a Halloween party to raise money for Georgia’s Make-A-Wish
1 A pavilion is a perfect spot for socializing 2 The dramatic stone waterfall 3 The Bowl and Gardens for Grandchildren Photographs ©Landscape Studio
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Foundation. Unfortunately, they had to cancel last year because of COVID-19. Plantings throughout Delphi Gardens are lush and blend in with the property’s native trees and shrubs.“We wanted the area to look natural with textures and color changes, so we used simple massing of blacked-eye Susans, swaths of hydrangeas, and Encore azaleas which bloom three times a year.”
WE WANTED THE AREA TO LOOK NATURAL WITH TEXTURES AND COLOR CHANGES, SO WE USED SIMPLE MASSING OF BLACKED-EYE SUSANS, SWATHS OF HYDRANGEAS, AND ENCORE AZALEAS WHICH BLOOM THREE TIMES A YEAR Landscape Studio also incorporated some rhododendrons, which Jim says are finicky in Atlanta, as well as hemlocks and Mount Laurel, at the client’s request. Jim says Landscape Studio deployed about four crews of four to five workers, saying it was the most labor intensive project of his career. Landscape Studio also maintains the property, along with a full-time horticulturist employed by Dr. Demestihas. Much of the gardens and home are run on solar power. “Dr. Demestihas embraces innovation and is always looking forward,” says Jim. In fact, Dr. Demestihas has set up a trust with this in mind, so the property will remain in the family and enjoyed for generations to come.
A B O U T L A N D S CA P E ST U D I O Led by co-owners Jim Lesti and Adam Ardoin, Landscape Studio specializes in creating custom outdoor spaces with a concierge level of service from the consultation through design, and the construction process.
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PA R T N E R S & S U P P L I E R S Plants Stovall Wholesale Nursery stovallinc.com Blacksmithing Mark Hunter @formandfusion on Instagram Carpentry Lawrence Smith 678-725-4446 Water features Coastal Pond Supply coastalpond.com Lighting Dave Parks, Atlanta Lightscapes atlantalightscapes.com Wall stone Aztec Stone Empire aztecstoneempire.com 4 5 6 7
Greenhouse, Orchards and Grazing Chapel built with stone originating from Greece Lush planting surrounds this horse sculpture The Bocce Ball court Photographs ©Landscape Studio
Stone planters Four Seasons Pottery 4seasonspottery.com
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OASIS COMPLETE LANDSCULPTURE LANDSCAPER CHRIS STREMPEK CREATES HIS OWN RESIDENTIAL RESORT IN DALLAS
wner of Complete Landsculpture, Chris Strempek, has been in the landscaping business for 30 years. After completing hundreds of projects for clients all over Texas and Oklahoma, he was finally able to finish a project right in his own backyard. His house, which he bought 22 years ago, was in need of a refresh. But because it was designed by Charles Stevens Dilbeck, a renowned Dallas architect, Chris didn’t want to tear it down. So instead, he updated the residence and created a fabulous backyard oasis that ties into the original home and the surrounding landscape.
PROJECT D E TA I L S Project value $500k Build time 1 year Size of project 2 acres
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The half-million-dollar project—which includes a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen and cabana—has plenty of Texas pizazz. “We wanted something beyond your typical swimming pool,” says Chris. “My wife and I really wanted to experience a spa-like resort setting right at home and truly stimulate your senses with lots of water, whether you were immersed in the pool or sitting beside it.”
MY WIFE AND I REALLY WANTED TO EXPERIENCE A SPA-LIKE RESORT SETTING RIGHT AT HOME AND TRULY STIMULATE YOUR SENSES WITH LOTS OF WATER, WHETHER YOU WERE IMMERSED IN THE POOL OR SITTING BESIDE IT Chris had a lot of land to work with—more than two acres—but the property sits about 50 feet up from the road, so grading was a challenge. Chris worked with civil engineer Jerry Monk and constructed piers to support the 110,000-gallon swimming pool and deck on the sloped property. “The end
result really gives the pool a wonderful sunken effect, as if tucked into the landscape,” he explains. To complement the home’s exterior, Chris selected creamy colors and indigenous materials like limestone. “Not only are those more neutral colors more soft to the eye, they’re cooler,” he says. “That Texas sun can burn your feet if you use darker browns and grays.” Chris was also careful on the finished seal. He likes the look of the material being wet but notes that the shinier it is, the more you see the wear and tear. Around the pool, he used limestone coping and a rattlesnake veneer on the surrounding walls. He also substituted concrete for natural stone where he could, while still achieving the overall desired look. He estimates a saving of
about $100,000 by using concrete since his total deck area is around 7,000 feet. “Concrete gives people the most bang for their dollar,” he says. “And with scoring, you can give concrete lots of different textures and colors. I love stone, but it can separate and have issues with the joints later on.” “The bridge over to the firepit area was made from concrete,” he continues. “It’s actually really narrow, but we gave an illusion of more space using a curved balustrade. The firepit below is custom stainless steel, and
1 Sunken island with sitting area and firepit 2 Aerial view of the Dallas property 3 Custom lighting by Complete Landsculpture and Signature Illumination Design 4 Plantings soften the hardscape
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when it’s turned on, even the surrounding stone warms up for a really nice feel.” The state-of-the-art cabana was designed to enjoy, whether on a hot Texas summer day or a chilly winter night. Chris installed Texton drop-down screens and an all-weather Canarm HVAC system for added comfort. “We have heat strips in place for the winter, and for the summer, we are using a high-pressure air compression system. You can either turn it on to generate air like a ceiling fan, or the vents can pump cool vapor.”
CONCRETE GIVES PEOPLE THE MOST BANG FOR THEIR DOLLAR, AND WITH SCORING, YOU CAN GIVE CONCRETE LOTS OF DIFFERENT TEXTURES AND COLORS Chris notes that his ceiling height of 11 feet is ideal for the flash evaporative cooling system. Lower ceilings can lead to dripping water rather than blowing cool air. The cabana and swim-up bar were perfectly executed, but Chris says designing a curved cabana with straight materials was a challenge. “We love the radial of the cabana, but we really worked to make it fit within the space and line up the other elements of the pool,” he says.
“We’ve really had terrific team members, from the masons to the craftsmen, engineers, gunite crew, excavators and electricians,” he says. Chris completed the project last summer, at a time when a backyard retreat was especially needed. Not only has he enjoyed the space on a personal level, but it’s helped him professionally, too. “It’s really interesting to build for yourself,” he says. “You understand the client experience, the emotions and the pain points. It’s been good to sit in that chair.” 5 Firepit, cabana, and house at night 6 Aerial view with Dallas skyline
ABOUT COMPLETE LANDSCULPTURE Founded in 1985, Complete Landsculpture has grown into one of the largest full-service landscape firms serving commercial and residential clients in Texas and Oklahoma.
PA R T N E R S & S U P P L I E R S General Contractor/Design Complete Landsculpture completelandsculpture.com Civil Engineering Monk Consulting Engineers dnb.com Outdoor Kitchen & Cabana Bimmerle Construction buildbimmerle.com Cross Timbers Architects crosstimbersarchitects.com Pool equipment & automation Jandy, Jandy.com Aqualink, iaqualink.com/en AV 71 Audio 71audio.com Stairs Lighting Signature Illumination Design lightsbysignature.com Lueders Limestone & Rattlesnake Stone Aguado Stone aguadostone.com Drop-Down Screens Texton, texton.com Climate & Comfort Control Infratech, infratech-usa.com Carnarm, canarm.com/hvac/ Portacool Jetstream, portacool.com Texas Mosquito Control, texasmosquitocontrol.com
38 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
N U RT U R E
NURSERY FOCUS: BRACY’S NURSERY
I N S I D E N U R T U R E T H I S M O N T H PAG E 4 1 A LT E R N AT I V E , PAG E 4 2 LO R I H AW K I N S : FO O D S C A P I N G , PAG E 4 4 N U R S E RY FO C U S : B R AC Y ’ S N U R S E RY, PAG E 4 8 I N D U ST RY I N S I G H TS W I T H J O H N C O N R OY
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THE NATIVE PLANT HORTICULTURE FOUNDATION RECOMMENDS A BETTER ALTERNATIVE TO NANDINA
ITEA VIRGINICA , SWEETSPIRE Benefits Prized for its showy white flower clusters, colorful fall leaves and general hardiness. Flowers are fragrant and provide nectar for butterflies and other pollinators. Foliage provides cover for birds and other wildlife.
NANDINA DOMESTICA , HEAVENLY BAMBOO • Invasive throughout the Southeastern US • The berries attract and can poison wildlife and pets. The berries contain cyanide and other alkaloids that produce toxic hydrogen cyanide, poisonous to all animals.
©Mary Free, MGNV.org
CRIM SON LEAV ES IN NOV EMB ER
Design This is a great shrub to soften the edges of hardscaped areas, to use in mixed shrub beds and along the edges of ponds, drainage swales and wetland depressions. The form is erect to spreading, multi-stemmed and clump-forming with an open form and arching branches. Deciduous to semi-evergreen, 3-8 feet high and 2-5 feet in spread. Occurs naturally ITEA VIRG INIC A in moist, acidic soil but will adapt to drier conditions. Grows in shade to full sun. Consult local native plant resources for best selection and use information in your area. www.nativeplanthort.org ©Forest & Kim Starr
Invasive plant plant
FLOWERS IN MAY
FALL FOLIA GE
©Elaine Mills, MGNV.org
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021 41
©Elaine Mills, MGNV.org
©Mary Free, MGNV.org
LEAVES IN OCTOBER
FO O D S C A P I N G
S U ST E N A N C E FO R B O DY A N D S O U L LORI HAWKINS SHARES THE BENEFITS OF EDIBLE LANDSCAPING
ith the pandemic hopefully moving behind us, the struggles we have gone through as a nation this past year have instigated some unique ideas and innovative practices in the landscape industry. The change has been compelling; I have never seen such a fundamental shift in the types of requests I receive from my customers as I have recently. Customers no longer solely request the manicured hedges and lush, water-loving lawns of past years. Now customers are increasingly moving towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly design alternatives such as “foodscaping.” Foodscaping is defined as the incorporation of vegetables and other edible annuals and perennials into a traditional ornamental landscape. This can be accomplished either through dedicated garden areas in the yard or interspersing edible plant material in traditional ornamental plantings. In my observations, I see several reasons why this landscaping trend has begun and appears to be here to stay in our industry:
42 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
Health With so many concerned with their health these days, what could be healthier than fresh fruits, vegetables and farm-to-table dining? Also, given the exercise that we all need, you will expend plenty of energy working in your own garden. Urban gardening also provides control over the quality of food you are eating. You will have organic, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables only a few steps away.
Sustainability Homegrown produce is not only healthier for your family, but also for the environment, too. Less pesticides by volume in your backyard reduces the chemical pressures on the environment caused by large scale commercial farming. Backyard gardening also reduces your carbon footprint by minimizing the fossil fuel use that transportation and packaging store-bought produce can bring.
Self-sufficiency and cost savings Empty grocery store shelves were quite disconcerting for many of us over the last year. In a way, this pandemic has brought forth a primordial pioneering spirit in the American people to tap into our own self-sufficiency. What can be more selfsufficient than being able to provide food for your family by the sweat of your own brow? Also, the investment of your property can return value to you and your family by helping feed and sustain them.
Permaculture A companion trend I also see is permaculture, which is the practice of encouraging flourishing and mutually beneficial ecosystems. One way this can occur is to introduce chickens and other farm animals into the garden environment. These animals not only produce food, but their waste can be composted and returned to the earth to nourish the regenerating garden. The declining garden can in turn become fodder for the animals. Ah, the circle of life!
Entertainment and discovery of new hobbies Lockdown has a funny way of assisting people to find untapped interests and hobbies. It is not a method I relish, but it works! Many of us have discovered the joy of gardening in this period and it will serve us well moving forward.
Beauty In the old days, I would never dare to call a vegetable garden beautiful. Now, with the choices we have, I can say that with confidence. Many of our new annual and perennial vegetable varieties are beautiful as well as tasty. Here are a few to try in your garden on the opposite page:
Vegetables and herbs These can be an element all on their own in the garden or intermixed throughout your ornamental landscaping. • Kale - Now comes in green and purple. • Rainbow Swiss Chard - ‘Bright Lights’ come in a variety of colors. • Basil - ‘Dark Opal’ has purple leaves splotched with green. • Thyme – Has beautiful flowers. • Tomatoes - They also come in purple and even black. • Asparagus - Try the new purple variety. • Peas - They are vining and have attractive flowers. Why grow an ornamental vining rose when you can use peas and then add it to your dinner? • Chives - Small, beautiful blooms to be interspersed in larger plantings. • Peppers - Come in a multitude of colors for interest in the landscape. • Cauliflower - Did you know that it now comes in yellow and purple? • Runner beans - Also come in a variety of colors.
RAISED VEGETABLE BEDS, BORGOINE RESIDENCE RENDERING
Edible flowers Carnations (Dianthus), Pansies (Viola) and Nasturtiums add additional interest in the landscape. Trees and shrubs Along with the staple apple and pear tree, try nut-producing trees like pecan and English walnut to create a “food forest.” Shrubs like blueberry, blackberry and fig can also add landscape interest and delicious fruit. By introducing a few edible plants at a time, you can ultimately transform your client’s property into a beautiful and functioning urban farm. At the same time, it will be returning value in the form of a safe, sustainable and plentiful harvest for their family.
A B O U T L O R I H AW K I N S
VEGETABLE GARDEN, THONHAUSER RESIDENCE CONCEPTS
Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA, is the owner and principal of Hawkins Landscape Architecture. With more than 30 years of experience in the field, she specializes in high-end residential landscape architecture in North Carolina.
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021 43
N U R S E RY
FO C U S BRACY’S NURSERY
BRACY’S NURSERY IS ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST RESPECTED WHOLESALE NURSERIES IN LOUISIANA
DR ALLEN OWINGS
44 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
ocated 70 miles north of New Orleans, Bracy’s Nursery was founded in 1986 by Randy and Regina Bracy. The company has grown from a modest U-Pick fruit farm into a multi-million-dollar operation with 130 employees on 240 acres. Today, Bracy’s grows and provides plants to around 600 independent retail garden centers and 500 professional landscapers in 11 southeastern states. Dr. Allen Owings, who has a doctorate in horticulture from Mississippi State, is Bracy’s senior horticulturist. He joined the company in 2017 after retiring from a 26-year career at LSU AgCenter. “Bracy’s wants to be the one-stop shop for retail garden centers and landscape contractors,” says Allen. “We know our customers on a first-name basis and try to make it easy for them to do business with us, and in turn easy to sell to their customers.” Bracy’s provides anything from one-gallon flowers to three to seven-gallon shrubs and 15 to 30-gallon trees. They sell many branded items from Proven Winners and the Southern
Living Plant Collection as well as Drift and Knockout roses, Encore azaleas, and Endless Summer hydrangeas. Other popular plants include gardenias, loropetalums, distyliums, boxwoods and camellias, including the South’s number-one seller: the ShiShi Gashira camellia. Bracy’s sells natives and non-natives but no invasive plants.
WE KNOW OUR CUSTOMERS ON A FIRST-NAME BASIS AND TRY TO MAKE IT EASY FOR THEM TO DO BUSINESS WITH US, AND IN TURN EASY TO SELL TO THEIR CUSTOMERS
“We also have our programs like Rhapsody in Color, which is our flowering stock; Beneficial Blooms to attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies; Tropical Paradise plants and foliage; and Backyard Oasis drought-tolerant shrubs,” says Allen. “These special programs are not something you see at every wholesale nursery.” Bracy’s participates in plant trials alongside university cooperatives and plant developers. The nursery is currently working on a native dogwood study with the University of Tennessee to explore reasons for the extensive habitat loss of this native plant. “Land grant universities are great about recommending certain plants to the average home gardener and landscape industry, plants that perform and are easier to care for, and are less susceptible to disease and insects,” says Allen. “The most well-known programs in the South are LSU’s SuperPlants, Texas A&M’s SuperStars and Mississippi Medallions through Mississippi State.” Allen says even if your business isn’t located in these states but shares a similar climate, the plants are likely to be successful. He also encourages landscapers to purchase plant materials from local independent garden centers rather than big-box stores. “Usually at independent garden centers you have a more knowledgable sales staff, more locally grown plants, and the right plant sold at
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021 45
BRACY’S PLANTING TIPS • When designing, consider the long-term maintenance • Prepare your beds before planting • Use the right plant in the right place • Ensure you have plenty of room when planting trees • Avoid planting ornamental shrubs too close together • Buy from independent garden centers
the right season,” says Allen. “They’re more likely to work with the university’s department of agriculture or the state’s landscaping and nursery associations. And you’re supporting small local businesses, which are really the backbone of our economy.” In February, a rare freeze impacted areas of the Deep South. Allen predicts a plant shortage this spring due to widespread damage of plant material at nurseries in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and the northern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. “We took a lot of precautions, moving plants inside and using frost protection blankets,” says Allen. “But the temperature for us ended up being four degrees warmer than projected, so we fared okay.” This wasn’t the first time severe weather has threatened Bracy’s. In 2005, the nursery
was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, but wholesale nurseries in other parts of the state pitched in to help. Last year, not just one but two Category 4 hurricanes struck southwest Louisiana, about 200 miles from New Orleans. This time it was Bracy’s which reached out to help.
IN TIMES OF NEED, WE AREN’T COMPETITORS. THAT’S JUST HOW OUR INDUSTRY IS. WE’RE GOING TO HELP EVERYONE THE BEST WE CAN, IN LOUISIANA AND ACROSS STATE LINES “Louisiana’s area of Forest Hill near Alexandria is home to about 200 wholesale nurseries and many reported damage and lost power,” says Allen. “We sent as many generators as we could during their recovery. In times of need, we aren’t competitors. That’s just how our industry is. We’re going to help everyone the best we can, in Louisiana and across state lines.” Allen believes belonging to a state’s nursery and landscaping association is
46 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
important to foster those kinds of relationships. Bracy’s is a member of multiple Nursery and Landscape Associations, including those for Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, as well as being a member of groups such as the Southern Nursery Association, the Arkansas Green Industry Association, and the Georgia Green Industry Association.
C O N TA C T Bracy’s Nursery Amite, Louisiana Tel: 800-899-4716
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KEYS TO A
H E A LT H Y A N D URBAN TREE SPECIALIST DR. ED GILMAN DELVES INTO THE FACTORS THAT CAUSE TREES TO EITHER FAIL OR FLOURISH
INDUSTRY INSIGHTS WITH
Last issue Florida grower John Conroy talked with Laurie Hall from CHW about Right Plant, Right Place. In this issue, John interviews Dr. Ed Gilman, urban tree specialist, prolific author and environmental horticulture professor emeritus with the University of Florida. For more than 30 years he’s worked with professionals across the industry including arborists, consultants, landscape contractors, growers, urban foresters, planners and landscape architects on understanding the architecture of tree branch and root structure and why this is critical in the success of trees in the landscape. In the July/August issue, John will discuss more about Florida Grades and Standards for Nursery Plants and its impact for the betterment of the industry.
DR. ED GILMAN
John: Ed, let’s start by talking about the main reasons planted trees fail or succeed in the landscape. Ed: There are many reasons for a tree’s success or failure. Primary among these issues is pruning at planting, grades and standards and the root system. John: What issues have you seen when there was no pruning at planting? Ed: I’ve traveled to many countries, have pruned trees and learned a lot from arborists worldwide. The indelible common thread that I have observed is that lower trunk and branch architecture is pretty uniform in regard to urban planted trees. Whether it’s
48 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
Singapore, Hong Kong, Boston or Seattle, hardwoods of different species have similar structures. In those places and more, after the tree gets installed and established, nobody is really in charge of training the tree to develop sustainable architecture. Landscapers and homeowners might prune the low branches away but don’t always think about the branches higher in the canopy. Without structural pruning, defects can develop which shorten tree life. John: What’s the best way for landscapers to tell if a tree has a proper branch structure? Ed: What we look for is a trunk (central leader), that is considerably larger than any of the branches. It’s best to have branches about half the size of the trunk. Here in Florida, the Florida Fancy or Florida #1 specification requires that no branches are greater than two-thirds the diameter of the trunk. If they are larger than the desirable ratio then you simply reduce that branch to slow its growth by cutting back to a lateral live branch. This process is called subordination. You can develop good branch architecture and still achieve the silhouette customers want: a rounded, upright oval or a pyramid shape, depending on the species. The bottom line is, whether it’s a city, a homeowner’s association, a commercial or residential client, they don’t want trees falling in weather, and they don’t want the replacement cost of a tree that fails due to a weak structure.
ENDURING TREE S LOWING VIGOROUS AGGRESSIVE BRANCHES
QUALITY ROOT SYSTEMS HAVE ROOTS RADIATING FROM THE TRUNK LIKE SPOKES ON A WHEEL
with specifications, the customer gets a better tree. We need to continue to teach folks that pruning at planting is a good idea when structural defects are observed in the tree. John: What are some of the structural defects you’ve seen? Ed: I have seen trees all over the planet from tropicals, elms, maples and oaks where failure occurred on branches present on the trunk at planting. This is halfway up the crown or at the top of the crown when provided. If this was taken care of by specifying a tree that meets Florida Fancy standards, or by structural pruning at planting, we would see fewer of these issues occurring. John: We’ve worked a lot together on Florida’s Grades and Standards and we’ve come a long way as an industry. Are other states following the same criteria? Ed: I know many people are aware of our grades
and standards, but a stumbling block is the word “Florida.” Understandably, they want something of their own. Here in Florida, as you know, we started the “Great Southern Tree Conference,” and we all learned a lot
WITH STANDARDS—COMBINED WITH SPECIFICATIONS— IN PLACE, THE CUSTOMER GETS A BETTER TREE about cultivating trees. I learned so much from growers like yourself. So, we can continue to encourage people in other states to learn for themselves and find what works. With the enforcement of grades, combined
John: We have talked about how the twig bends, now let’s talk about as the root circles. You’ve taught us that roots deflected during their development in the nursery can compromise the longevity of that tree. Trees often become unstable when roots are deflected. What are some things landscapers can do to ensure a healthy root system? Ed: You want a healthy rootball, and you should inspect the roots at delivery. Get in there and get dirty and take a closer look. The important defects are near to the top of the
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021 49
rootball close to the trunk, meaning that observations can be quick. If the tree was initially grown in a small container and the roots are all in a knot, it will be very loose in the soil versus if the roots go straight out. High quality trees have straight roots at or near the top of the rootball. These trees become stable and establish quickly. Having to stake a tree that’s 3 to 4 inches in diameter because it’s unstable can be a sign of poor root quality. People are spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars on a single tree, and if it goes south because of bad roots, that’s a big problem. The tree can look green and have a high vitality but be unstable. We’ve seen this in hurricanes. Healthy, vigorous trees of any caliper down by the thousands.
SPACING BRANCHES ALONG THE TRUNK
John: You can shave the outside of a container root system to make sure from that point forward you have a radiating root system, but what might have happened previously is difficult to correct. The roots could have developed improperly from the get-go, even in the original propagation container. Often by the time the tree gets to a one-gallon container, it’s too late. Ed: Yes, I think if we can make small changes in the first few weeks and months after propagation, we can increase the
PREVENTIVE ARBORICULTURE IS THE HEART OF A SUSTAINABLE URBAN TREE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
BEFORE SHAVING: THERE ARE MANY ROOTS ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE ROOTBALL
AFTER SHAVING THESE OFF, REMAINING ROOTS ARE STRAIGHT, RADIATING FROM THE TRUNK LIKE SPOKES ON A WHEEL
quality of our plant material and reduce the likelihood of failure. We need to teach more people how to inspect roots, prune at planting and use a grades and standards document which details the proper development and care or trees. This practice will help move the industry forward. John: Thank you, Ed. We will delve more into grades and standards in the next issue.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
50 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
E D U C AT E
OUTDOOR LIVING MUST-HAVES
I N S I D E E D U C AT E T H I S M O N T H PAG E 5 2 DA N M A B E , AG Z A , PAG E 5 3 N I C K R U D D L E , PAG E 5 5 F E R T I L I Z E R , PAG E 5 6 O U T D O O R L I V I N G M U ST- H AV E S , PAG E 5 9 B AC K PAC K B LOW E R S
S U STA I N A B L E
L A N D S C A P I N G C O M PA N Y
AGZA FOUNDER DAN MABE SHARES WHY SUSTAINABILITY IS A VITAL ELEMENT TO CONSIDER FOR ANY BUSINESS
companies shift from fossil fuel operations to lower-impact and battery-powered operations. By doing this, lawncare companies not only protect the health of the environment and their employees as well as reduce noise levels, but they also make themselves more marketable and reduce costs after only 24 months. AGZA is also encouraging companies to offer more “organic” solutions with fertilizing, weed and pest control.
he last issue of Pro Landscaper USA South was dedicated to sustainability, and I hope all of you had the chance to read the many wonderful ideas, projects and viewpoints. But the topic of sustainability is one that needs to be on our minds on a daily basis year-round. With sustainable practices, the landscaping industry is in an extraordinary position to make a positive impact—not just on the environment, but on your bottom line. And it’s not as difficult as you might think. I founded the American Green Zone Alliance in 2010 to create green-collar jobs, Eco-conscious corporate clients, improve the health of maintenance workers, municipalities and residents are already reduce impacts on our planet, and enhance aligning themselves with vendors who share the quality of life in our communities. the same values—including their lawncare Here’s why: operators. There is an emerging new Each year in the United States, Americans industry for quiet lawncare service with mow, trim, edge, and blow 50,000 square zero emission. Businesses like golf courses, miles of lawns. That hospitals, municipal parks, requires burning 1.2 HOAs, schools and office billion gallons of gas, buildings, want quiet which generates 11.8 service and better air million tons of carbon quality. They want dioxide. Not only a lawncare service does gas-powered that can deliver both. equipment cause We worked with the pollution of the lungs City of South Pasadena, and air, but it’s also California to help them noisy and disruptive. become the first AGZA Our goal at the Green Zone City. American Green Zone All of their landscape QUIET LAWNCARE Alliance has been to maintenance equipment help lawncare must be battery-
52 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
EACH YEAR IN THE UNITED STATES, AMERICANS MOW, TRIM, EDGE, AND BLOW 50,000 SQUARE MILES OF LAWNS
GREEN AMERICANLIANCE ZONE AL
SUNTEK LAWN CARE powered, cordless and electric. We’ve also just completed a corporate certification for Suntek Lawn Care in Lake Nona, just outside of Orlando. Not only does Suntek use battery-powered equipment, but their vans also generate their own solar power to charge their equipment batteries. Suntek is avoiding more than 400 pounds of ozone-forming exhaust, 5,500 pounds of carbon monoxide and 19,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. And their crews’ noise levels are 40 to 70% lower than crews with gas-powered equipment. Their certification helps show future customers of their dedication to the quality of life in Central Florida. They are already gaining new business because of it. I hope you’ll consider making the switch from gas-powered to electric and learn new ways to become more sustainable. Your employees, your customers, and your community will thank you.
A B O U T DA N M A B E Dan Mabe is the founder of The American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA).
5YO U TS HHO UILND KGN OWS
B E F O R E YO U
B U S I N E S S C OAC H N I C K R U D D L E A DV I S E S H O W TO AVO I D T H E P I T FA L L S W H E N YO U ’ R E LO O K I N G TO E X PA N D
You’re passionate about building dream gardens for your clients. You’re excited about building your dream business. But what are the vital things you need to have in place? Avoid the common mistakes that many business owners make by following some of these basic principles—here are five things you must consider. Know your numbers If you were playing a game of golf or tennis, how would you know if you were winning or losing if you didn’t keep score? It’s the same in business. You need a score card to know whether you’re winning or not. Do you know your true margins? Your monthly breakeven number? Marketing ROI? Productivity KPIs? ‘Knowing your numbers’ is vital to making the right decisions to make your business a success. Establish your vision and values You wouldn’t start a long journey without knowing where you’re going or how you’re going to get there. You’ll need to have a clear understanding of what your business looks like when it’s ‘finished’. Then you can go to work ‘on’ your business and not just work a job ‘in’ your business. Having a clear vision and solid values will help to attract like-minded
individuals to achieve your goals. If you haven’t done so already, you must read a great book called ‘The E-Myth Revisited’ that explains how to get started. Follow a successful recruitment process to attract great people Great people work for great companies. Average people work for average companies. If you want to attract the best people you need to be an attractive business to work for. Learning and following a successful recruitment process is the key to building a winning team of great people. If you’re consistently frustrated with your team, it may be time to assess your recruitment process and find out what changes you need to make.
IF YOU WANT TO ATTRACT THE BEST PEOPLE YOU NEED TO BE AN ATTRACTIVE BUSINESS TO WORK FOR Get organized and efficient Map out your critical business processes that are performed on a regular basis, break them down into simple steps and train the relevant people in those tasks. For example, what’s your marketing
process? Customer sales journey? Daily operations/delivery processes? Accounting systems? If everyone executes their tasks in the correct way and in a consistent manner, there will be less mistakes – which means you’ll be more efficient and more profitable as a result! Integrate the right IT systems 80% systemization, 20% humanization! 80% of tasks in a business are performed on a regular basis, either hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. Great businesses are built on great systems run by great people. Make sure you research the right IT systems in the key departments. Remember the acronym for S.Y.S.T.E.M—Save Yourself Stress Time Energy and Money!
ABOUT NICK RUDDLE Since 2007, Nick Ruddle has coached many landscape contractors, horticulturists, nurseries, garden centres and garden designers to success and works closely with the main industry associations, suppliers and leaders. With more than 5,000 hours of one-to-one coaching and delivering hundreds of workshops and seminars over the years, Nick can help implement specific strategies, methods, processes and systems that will produce exceptional results for your landscape business. www.nickruddle.com
Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021 53
Dual Nature This sculpture stands elegantly at 7'6". The two metals create an interest that demands that second glance. The softness of the fabricated bronze is in stark contrast with the industrial look and feel of the stainless steel and combined creates a very unique piece. The style though, is one of cohesion and plays well with iconic Kevin Robb designs.
(303) 431–4758 KEVINROBB.COM 3D@KEVINROBB.COM
Visit us at www.lnla.org Become a Member Today! Serving Louisiana’s “Green Industry” Since 1954
L AT E ST P R O D U C TS
FERTILIZERS GET HEALTHIER, STRONGER LAWNS WITH THESE FOUR EFFECTIVE FERTILIZERS
HUMA-IRON BY DR. JIMZ Huma-Iron adds the carbon, humus and trace minerals back into the soil for a higher quality lawn, keeping grass green through fall. Huma-Iron can safely be applied during the extreme heat of the South. Mainstream chemical fertilizer contains high doses of nitrogen that will quickly burn the carbon out of the soil and create problems for lawns. drjimz.com
ESPOMA PLANT-TONE The Espoma Company began production in 1929 with an organic fertilizer, a proprietary blend of natural materials available near the company’s location in New Jersey. Today, the natural and organic fertilizer remains a great product ideal for flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubs, yielding more blooms with vibrant color, growing larger plants with deeper green foliage, and creating long-lasting, slow-release feeding. espoma.com
EARTH SAFE ORGANICS BY VITAL EARTH Made from 100% natural organic materials, Earth Safe Organics products are specifically designed to meet the needs of the environmentally conscious lawn and garden enthusiast. Organic growing is about building soil through the composting and recycling of waste materials, ensuring a healthier ecosystem and reducing nitrogen inputs near rivers. Apply bat guano to gardens, flowers, shrubs, trees and grass for stronger roots, stems and vegetable yields. vitalearth.com
GREENE COUNTY N-EXT Spring is in full swing, but it’s not too late to get your turf established and ready for a season that can throw anything your way. Greene County’s N-Ext line can help get your turf ready for all that Mother Nature has in store. Ideal for heavy rain, N-Ext Air8 Liquid Aeration increases drainage in tightly bound soils. For low-density turf, N-Ext RGS Soil & Plant Formula will help drive roots and get grass standing tall. greenecountyfert.com
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COASTAL RANCH SIGNATURE KITCHEN BY KINDRED Signature Kitchens by Kindred are an easy solution to creating the timeless look and feel of a stone masonry kitchen. Each Signature Kitchen ships complete with all the necessary cabinets, bolts and end-caps. Finalize your outdoor design by selecting the stone or brick finish, appliances, and countertop of your choice. The Coastal Ranch is one of Kindred’s most popular L-shaped kitchens. At approximately 11 x 8 feet, this kitchen is designed to maximize appliance space and still provide ample entertaining with the raised bar counter. mykindredliving.com
OUTDOOR LIVING M U ST H AV E S ELEVATE YOUR CLIENTS’ OUTDOOR SPACES WITH THESE FABULOUS PRODUCTS
TANNING LEDGE SECTIONAL BY BOXHILL Providing premium comfort and beautiful lines, this sectional helps create a relaxing seating space on a tanning ledge for guests to enjoy the luxury of in-water seating. But this versatile piece can also be used in garden areas, poolside seating spaces, patios, decks, or anywhere commercial or residential clients need. Resistant to the harsh impact of chlorine, it can sit in almost 10 inches of water without losing its sheen. The sectional pieces lock together for increased structural stability and come with durable and fashionable cushions. Made in the USA, this sectional sofa uses 100% recyclable products. shopboxhill.com
ALGARVE PERGOLA FROM RENSON Founded in 1909, Renson is a worldwide pioneer and trendsetter in outdoor living concepts. Made in the USA, the Renson Algarve pergola is popular for its high-quality aluminum and sleek design. Thanks to the louvered roof and the side elements, homeowners can enjoy their outdoor space while mastering all the outdoor elements. The pergola can be fully personalized by adding shades, LED lighting and sliding panels. renson-outdoor.com
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NEWPORT COLLECTION BY SUMMER CLASSICS Based in Alabama, Summer Classics has been a popular choice for both homeowners and the trade industry for more than 35 years. The Newport Collection evokes the mid-century look of vintage rattan furniture that’s as timeless and classic as it is beautiful. Handwoven in UV-resistant, N-dura resin wicker, this furniture line can withstand the South’s environmental elements season after season. Choose from various fabric options to customize each piece. summerclassics.com
BURLY STOVE Founded in Virginia and made in the USA, Burly fire pits have a unique, two-piece design engineered to reduce and eliminate smoke. Hot air is forced between the walls of the two units and circulates through holes beneath a specially designed flange. These holes introduce oxygen back into the fire and excess smoke is burned off, leaving an almost smoke-free experience. The perforated inner floor allows air to circulate under the fire, making seasoned wood ignite quickly and burn clean. The inner and outer pieces weigh 36 pounds each. Separated, they can be moved easily; combined, they make a solid, sturdy pit that will last for years. An optional grill attachment is great for cooking those summertime s’mores. burlyusa.com
LINE VOLTAGE BISTRO STRING KIT BY BRILLIANCE Take the ambiance of your client’s yard to the next level with the Brilliance Line Voltage Bistro String Light Kit. The kit contains everything you need for an easy installation: a 48 feet string with waterproof seal; 24 S14 2.5W lamps in 2700K; and two replacement fuses. The patented string design features two-way mounting holes at each lamp position, which creates a secure installation without the zip ties. brillianceled.com
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804-745-4100 virginiastoneproducts.com email@example.com
Innovation in Illumination
Versailles Pattern Patio Kits: Natural stone patio kit containing 216 square feet of stone. Unique colors that matches well with almost any home exterior colors. Six sets in each pallet, covering 36 square feet per set in the Versailles pattern more commonly known as the french pattern or pattern two. Quantity per pallet; 11.5"x11.5" 24 pieces, 11.5"x23.5" 12 pieces, 23.5"x23.5" 24 pieces, and 23.5"x35.5" 12 pieces
We ship anywhere on the East Coast!!!
Glow Path PaversTM absorb sunlight to provide 6-8 hours of ambient glow after dark. They require no wires, bulbs, or power source and are child and pet safe. For more info call:
or visit glowpathpavers.com
EQ U I P M E N T
BACKPACK BLOWERS GET TOUGH JOBS DONE FASTER WITH THESE POWERFUL BACKPACK BLOWERS
STIHL BR 800 C-E AND BR 800 X MAGNUM The American-built STIHL BR 800 C-E and BR 800 X MAGNUM backpack blowers are ideal for tackling large properties and heavy debris. Both BR 800 backpack blowers offer 20% more power than the STIHL BR 700 backpack blowers, allowing users to clear leaves, grass and heavy debris faster and more efficiently. This means landscapers see a real impact where it counts most: the bottom line. stihlusa.com
HUSQVARNA 580BTS The 580BTS II is Husqvarna’s most powerful blower. This blower works 20% longer with a class-leading 88 fl. oz fuel tank capacity. The built-in hip belt reduces fatigue, providing optimal comfort by transferring weight from the shoulders to the legs and preventing the blower from shifting sideways on the operator’s back. The large, two-stage air filter’s ultimate particle filtration and maximum air intake enable class-leading performance and keep the engine running longer. husqvarna.com/us
ECHO PB-9010 ECHO has launched its most powerful backpack blower to date: the new ECHO PB-9010. It claims this machine has 18% more power than its closest competitor. With 220 MPH wind speeds, this class-leading 79.9cc professional-grade two-stroke engine can produce 1,110 cubic feet per minute of air volume. The ECHO PB-9010 Backpack Blower comes with a two-year commercial warranty and five-year consumer warranty. ECHO-USA.com
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SERVICE IS IN THEIR DNA. IS IT IN YOURS?
AS A FORMER DEPLOYED SOLDIER, I KNOW FAMILIES AT HOME HAVE MORE TO WORRY ABOUT THAN TAKING CARE OF THEIR YARD. VOLUNTEERING LIGHTENS THEIR LOAD AND THAT
MAKES ME HAPPY.
Through a network of volunteers, GreenCare for Troops provides complimentary basic lawn and landscape services to deserving military families with a deployed service member.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER. Sign up now to show your gratitude and watch as your employees experience the joy of giving back.
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– JOHNY CROOKS
Blades of Grass Lawn Care, Savannah, GA
©2019 Project EverGreen. All Rights Reserved.
THE FRIDAY WRAP DELIVERS THE NEWS, VIEWS AND OPINIONS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED DURING THE WEEK Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the weekly newsletter brought to you by Pro Landscaper USA South
P EO P L E
EXECUTIVE PROFILE: BRIAN DUMONT, YARDNIQUE
I N S I D E P E O P L E T H I S M O N T H PAG E 6 2 S O L E S E A R C H I N G : S H AW N L A N GTO N O F K UJ O, PAG E 6 4 E X EC U T I V E P R O F I L E : B R I A N D U M O N T, YA R D N I Q U E , PAG E 6 6 L I T T L E I N T E R V I E WS
THE X1 LANDSCAPE BOOT IN ACTION
SOLE G N I H C SEAR N G TO N H O W S H AW N LA HE FO U N D H IS N IC
hawn Langton has loved the outdoors his entire life. He and his cousin Dave, nicknamed Kujo, could often be found outside together. As an adult, Shawn worked in the lawn and garden industry where he saw all the latest products in the marketplace. But what he didn’t see was a proper work shoe for landscapers. “I always hated wearing heavy boots, and sneakers weren’t practical for the mud and I’d always slip on hills,” Shawn recalls. “I started researching footwear designers but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So, I decided to design my own.” Shawn spent two years researching various designs and manufacturing options. He launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 and named his company Kujo Yardwear after his late beloved cousin. “I interviewed a lot of landscapers and lawn care operators to find out what they wanted in a shoe,” he says. “We started with the idea of a hybrid boot, something that feels like a Nike but can handle all the functions of mowing, walking miles every day and working hard on your feet. We knew we needed comfort with an aggressive grip and water resistance, and some landscapers needed a safety toe—especially when hardscaping.”
SK ET CH EA RLY SH OE
SHAWN AND COUSIN DAVID (KUJO) 62 Pro Landscaper USA South May/June 2021
THE KUJO YARD SHOE
Shawn recruited his sister Kelsey and her husband Craig to the company. They tried six different samples before getting everything right.
WE KNEW WE NEEDED COMFORT WITH AN AGGRESSIVE GRIP AND WATER RESISTANCE
LACING UP THE KUJO YARD SHOE (IN GREY-GREEN)
WITH SISTER KELSEY AT GIE+EXPO 2019 “That stage was pretty exciting,” says Shawn. “We’d draw different designs and I’d run the colors by my kids. My son and daughter have had fun with it.” Then in 2018, they launched their Kujo Yard Shoe prototype at the GIE+EXPO in Kentucky. “We couldn’t believe the reaction,” Shawn says. “We got so much traffic in our booth—landscapers were calling them game-changing.” Since then, the company has done extremely well. From 2018 to 2019, profits increased 50%. Then from 2019 to 2020, profits doubled. Most of Kujo’s business is Internet retail, although the shoes are also available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot and power equipment dealers. Last
year, they shipped to thousands of customers in all 50 states. To date, Shawn has made five improvements to the original model. Late last year, they launched their X1 Landscape Boot in addition to the Kujo Yard Shoe.
I PERSONALLY READ EVERY REVIEW, WE WANT TO MAKE SURE WE GET IT RIGHT Shawn works from his home in North Carolina, still with Kelsey and Craig. He enjoys running a small business and keeping his hands in everything. “I personally read every review,” says Shawn. “We want to make sure we get it right.” Kujo is now in the early stages of developing socks and pants, that are both
lightweight and breathable as well as durable to protect landscapers from heat, weather and mosquitos. As far as advice for other entrepreneurs with a big idea to make into reality, Shawn says never settle. “It’s important to visualize your perfect life,” he says. “If you could do anything every day what would that be? What gets you excited? Everyone is so busy we don’t stop to think about what really makes us happy.” Shawn, surrounded by family with a successful product, has found his happiness.
C O N TA C T 1776 Heritage Center Dr. Wake Forest, NC 27587 800-550-4809 email@example.com
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BRIAN DUMONT YARDNIQUE BRIAN DUMONT LAUNCHED YARDNIQUE BASED ON THE GOLDEN RULE
t’s a quintessential American success story. Brian DuMont grew up helping his dad in the yard and dreaming of becoming a professional baseball player. Life had other plans though, leading him to go to school for landscape horticulture. Right out of college, he launched his own company and today, 24 years later, he’s overseeing 450 employees and projects in four states. Brian came up with the idea for Yardnique while dealing with a difficult boss one summer after his junior year in college. So that fall he submitted a business plan to his horticulture professor at NC State. His mission was simple: Start a landscaping company that treats others the way you’d want to be treated.
THE KEY IS WILLING TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO KEEP MY EMPLOYEES.THEY’RE SUCH LOYAL GUYS AND GALS WHO’VE BEEN WITH ME FOREVER Not only has this mantra been good for business, it’s been good for employee retention. Brian has watched employees marry and raise a family, then have their own
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WE ARE IN THE CUSTOMER SERVICE BUSINESS, WE JUST HAPPEN TO DO LANDSCAPING children come to work for Yardnique. “The key is willing to do whatever it takes to keep my employees,” says Brian. “They’re such loyal guys and gals who’ve been with me forever.” Today, Yardnique specializes in landscaping design and maintenance for property management firms and Homeowners Associations (HOAs) in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. But Brian had to work his share of small jobs to get to where he is today. “Back in 1997 I would do anything to earn a paycheck,” says Brian. “I’d clean gutters, rake leaves, install fences, do plumbing, cut grass, making my way to doing landscape design and install.” Then one day, he was doing a yard for a homeowner in a neighborhood where she happened to be on the HOA board of directors. She recommended him for work on the community entranceway. “I’m sure I had the lowest bid by more than half,” laughs Brian. “But it was just me back then, and I was willing to do anything.” His work impressed the association, and soon he got another job from the neighborhood across the street. Business
has grown from there. “HOAs are a different world,” he says. “It might just be one contract, but you’re really answering to 500 clients—or how many homeowners happen to be in the neighborhood.” Brian says optimizing quality and quantity is a balancing act, and he relies on SiteOne for supplies and equipment as well as Aspire’s landscaping business software to keep things even. “It’s been a gamechanger,” says Brian. “We have seven offices in four states, and it allows us to be real-time with our numbers. Anyone in the field can see if we’re winning or losing at any given time.” Brian is proud of his team of skilled designers, knowledgeable horticulturists and managers, but he reminds them the key to retaining clients is communicating effectively, providing excellent customer service and delivering a great product. He ends each email with the question: “We are given two gifts at birth: Time and Talent. What will you do with yours?” For him and his employees, every day matters. “We are in the customer service business,” Brian says. “We just happen to do landscaping.”
C O N TA C T 10014 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville, NC 27560 919-388-9878
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T H E L I T T L E I N T E RV I E W
PEOPLE PRO LANDSCAPER ASKS QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS TO GAIN A SMALL INSIGHT INTO THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE UP OUR INDUSTRY. TO TAKE PART, EMAIL LAURA.LEE@ELJAYS44.COM
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BILL FONTENOT Owner, Prairie Brasse Ecological Consulting, Carencro, Louisiana firstname.lastname@example.org
DIANE JONES ALLEN, PLA Landscape architecture program director, University of Texas, Arlington Principal of DesignJones, New Orleans www.designjonesllc.com
What inspired you to get into the industry? A fascination with naturalistic design and a desire to sell more of the native plants that we were producing. If you weren’t in the horticulture industry, what would you be doing? Playing music. Other than the USA, which country’s landscape inspires you the most? Europeans have been designing gardens far longer than us New Worlders. I really appreciate the ease with which they solve various design problems and challenges. What would you blow your budget on? Well-prepared ceviche and pricey wines. The one person in the industry you’d love to meet? I’ve already met him: Will Fleming. One thing that would make the industry better? A more complete understanding of how plants perform in various conditions (soil type, moisture regime, sun exposure). Biggest challenge professionally? Dealing with the spotty market demand historically associated with native plant production and sales. What advice do you have for those starting out in the industry? Be prepared to work exceedingly hard—and be smart about it!
How did you get into the industry? Growing up, I’d been a girl scout and always loved the outdoors and parks, and it dawned on me that someone has to design all that. Knowing there was a specific discipline that put together all the things I cared about—art, the environment, doing good in the world—I was overjoyed. What are the biggest challenges in the industry? A lot of the work that landscape architects do is often taken on by other disciplines. Clients hire architects and engineers and not landscape architects. What would make the industry better? Continuing to make communities, clients and municipalities aware there is a profession that deals with key issues like climate change and creating open space. What’s the key to good design? There needs to be more connection with those who design the landscape and those who actually install it. Understanding how things are built helps you do the design. What has COVID taught you? Residents want better backyards and better urban environments. Cities want more open space. Something positive has come out of something negative. The pandemic has increased awareness of the importance of our work and brought hope for our profession.
F. T O D D L A S S E I G N E
B2B mowing marketing manager, John Deere, Fuquay Varina, North Carolina
Executive director, Bellingrath Gardens, Mobile, Alabama
President, Browder-Hite, Inc. Exmore, Virginia
How did you get into the industry? I grew up in a small agriculture-related business. I went to NC State to study Ag business. At the time, John Deere had just finished construction of a factory in North Carolina, and I applied for the job at John Deere Turf Care where we make all our commercial turf and golf products.
How did you get into the industry? My dad was a horticulturist in Louisiana and had a landscaping company. My mom was a gardener and my grandparents were sugarcane farmers, so I guess it runs in the blood.
How did you get started in the industry? I started my business after grad school (in a completely unrelated field), as a way to move closer to my grandmothers and also purchase my first home. That was 18 years, and a lot of “degrees” in the School of Hard Knocks, ago.
How has COVID impacted the business? For most states, landscapers were deemed essential workers which was a great position to be in. But we’ve also seen some supply chain challenges that all OPEI members are dealing with. What’s the biggest challenge facing the industry? Workforce, without a question. What would make the industry better? Increasing efficiencies. For the business owner, that means advances in business systems that help companies run more efficiently and track labor, productivity and key performance indicators. For the operator, it’s preventing disruptions, promoting uptime through design, minimizing downtime and extending service intervals. What are you most proud of? I like the product design side as you spend time with the end-use customer and get to stand in their shoes. I also love coming up with solutions. We worked with Michelin to design the Tweel tire so crews never had to deal with flat tires.
Whom do you admire? Tony Avent is one of my mentors. I worked at his nursery while working on my doctoral degree, and we really got to be great friends. He’s an amazing plantsmen—perhaps the country’s greatest horticulturist ever. What would make the industry better? The industry really needs to have a hard look at itself and how we pay. We talk about how we can’t recruit the new generation, but we don’t offer competitive pay. We have to look at robust benefits plans. A lot of young people won’t come to the industry if the pay isn’t there—because the work is hard. What’s the best part of your job? Bringing joy to people’s lives. As one of my former staffers in Tulsa said, “you never feel guilty about planting too many flowers.” Bellingrath is so beloved here in the South. We are here to provide a spiritual experience through nature and beauty, while also providing education. We offer the tangible and intangible. Neutral or colorful? Colorful, but not gaudy.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? Shepherding and successfully expanding a growing business in a sector in which I had no formal training. I’m always in a posture of learning and keeping an open eye for innovations, ideas or improvements Browder Hite (and I), can use. What is the biggest challenge facing the industry? Finding, training and retaining skilled and loyal employees who see and value the landscape industry as a viable and honorable profession. What are the biggest trends you’re seeing right now? Gone are the days of rows of shrubbery in front and boring lawn in the back. Today’s homeowners (and intuitive commercial building owners), want to maximize their investment with vibrant, strong plant material that offer multiple seasons of enjoyment, and efficient irrigation systems. High quality and well-placed LED landscape lighting is the most underused and misunderstood component of modern landscaping.
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BISTRO STRING KIT
Kit includes 48-ft bistro string, (24) S14 2.5 watt lamps in 2700K, & 2 replacement fuses
Patented two-way mount eliminates the need for zip ties & creates a secure installation
Brilliance | brillianceled.com | 800.867.2108
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Connection points are weather sealed & outdoor ready, plus the plug has a waterproof seal
Brilliance LED, LLC