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One for the record books

L&L talked with landscapers throughout California to see how they’re handling the worst drought in the state’s history.

As the drought in California continues to take a toll on residents and businesses, landscape companies are seeing negative effects. We caught up with a few to see how the worst dry spell in the state’s history is hitting their bottom line

“There was a slowdown in calls in for new landscape work,” says Jan Gross, president of Heritage Landscapes in San Anselmo, Calif. “Clients were holding off making decisions on what to do with their landscapes. At one point our water district was calling for a 20 percent reduction in water usage and targeting the landscapes. We are reliant on the rainfall to fill our reservoirs in the county.”

Because of this, Gross is changing how the company handles some of its construction projects.

“On one of our installation jobs, instead of installing the native meadow we had designed, we have mulched the area and are waiting to see if the rains return,” Gross says. “We are recommending sheet mulching wherever possible and planting in the fall and winter.” When the design can’t be changed, landscapers are instead maintaining it differently than they normally would. “We’re (putting in) more water sprinklers, and we’re reducing the time we’re watering,” says Alan Needham, owner of The Valley Gardener in Buellton, Calif. “And we’re putting in smart controllers.” Visit, to read the rest of the article.


What Now?

Five years ago, our April cover story about the election of Barack Obama as president generated plenty of buzz. So, has his presidency played out the way the contractors in this story thought? Check out an excerpt below and visit to read the full article.

Although the Obama presidency is still in its infancy, small businesses are bracing for change. With a new administration representing a significant shift in both political parties (Republican to Democrat) and political leanings (right to left) coupled with an economy in one of the most severe recessions in U.S. history, there is much anticipation from the small business community as to what will happen next.

This is especially since small business does not typically lean in this direction – 77 percent of landscape business owners are Republican and 67 percent voted for John McCain, according to a recent Lawn & Landscape survey.

In a late February address to Congress after the $787 billion stimulus bill passed, Obama spotlighted small business concerns, giving a few hints about his agenda: “I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.”

Checking in with the green industry, there is more skepticism than hope about Obama’s early pledges and first legislative steps in helping small businesses. A majority – 72 percent – think Obama will not help small business and the economy in his first year and a majority 55 percent say, “He was not my choice; I think his policies will negatively impact my business.”

“I was hopeful that the president and his people would instill some confidence in the public and get people spending money,” shares Joe Markell, president of Sunrise Lawn/Landscaping Services, a Northern Virginia company that employs 50 people. “With the market falling and people uncertain about what the future holds, it appears the opposite is happening.”