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August 12, 2014
Lawn & Landscape

Rock star landscaping

Ron Kutter worked on a beach for 10 days setting up for a music festival, and rubbed shoulders with the band members afterward.

By Jake Zuckerman

It wasn’t a normal job for Ron Kutter.

The owner of Kutter Landscaping was contracted by the Hangout Music Festival in Gulf Shores, Ala., to install palm trees and tend to the greenery at the concert’s location. “It was the biggest, coolest deal ever for me,” Kutter says of the work.

The job was an intense and precisely timed coordination of efforts. With only 10 days to set up during the festival and four days to deconstruct afterward, there was little time to spare.

Kutter and his 12-man crew installed more than 400 palm trees and dispersed 15 truckloads of sod and thousands of potted plants. Kutter estimates that he and his crew put in a combined total of more than 1,000 hours of labor to prepare the festival.

“We were just there to soften the festival with greenery,” Kutter says. The festival takes place on a beach, but according to Shaul Zislin, festival owner and founder, plenty in attendance had no idea that the palm trees on the beach didn’t grow there naturally.

People were very impressed by (the scenery), and they all think it was pre-existing,” Zislin says. “You tell them it was all planted in the last 10 days and their jaws drop.”

Although the Gulf of Mexico does a fine job of providing a natural backdrop for the event, Zislin says the event wouldn’t be the same without Kutter’s touch.“I believe that even the best looking bride can use some makeup,” Zislin says. “Landscaping is the makeup on this bride.”

According to Zislin, the festival spent more than $15 million on landscaping for the festival. Following the deconstruction of the weekend, more than 200 palm trees were donated to the city of Gulf Shores, with a total estimated value of roughly $15,000. While he may not have been partying like a rock star, Kutter did have his fair share of run-ins with some festival acts. He managed to bump into a sweaty Dan Reynolds, lead singer of Imagine Dragons, and snapped a picture with him.

“It was fun to set up,” Kutter says. “But it’s fun to go into participant mode too.” Zislin has a deep appreciation for Kutter and his work, and he knows why Kutter busts his tail like he does.

“The guy does it out of absolute love of the event,” Zislin says. “We pay a fortune for this, but I know he’s not getting rich off of the event. He does it because he loves it.”

The author is a contributing editor at Lawn & Landscape.


Get fuel smart

Next month, we will feature a package of stories centered on how contractors and LCOs are managing fuel procedures. The coverage is part of Smart Fuel Month, sponsored by Kawasaki and will include:

  • From the simple (make sure your tires are inflated and changing the oil regularly) to the more advanced (consider routing software and tracking devices that monitor idle time), how are contractors monitoring their fuel costs.
  • We find out what types of alternative fuels contractors are using and why.
  • What purchasing strategies are contractors using to buy fuel? On site vs. filling up at gas stations. If they are buying in bulk, do you pay up-front, or are there payment plans? What are advantages/disadvantages of each?
  • The results of a survey on how contractors are purchasing fuel and being more efficient with fuel.

Plus, keep an eye out to L&L’s Facebook and Twitter (@lawnlandscape) accounts, and Kawasaki’s Facebook and Twitter (@KAWPower) accounts for daily fuel efficiency tips throughout September.


Reasearch: Appetite for apps

We polled contractors about what apps they were using to help different aspects of their business. The responses showed contractors used them to help in the areas of finances and identifying problems in the field, while the variety in weather and GPS apps wasn’t as diverse. If you need help in those areas, or are just looking for something new to try, check out these apps.