Updates on COVID-19 and the landscaping industry

From manufacturers to your companies, we're keeping tabs on what the coronavirus means to the green industry.

For continuous coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the industry, visit our coronavirus page.

As global concern over the coronavirus grows, landscaping companies should prepare for how to handle a possible outbreak in their area and urge employees who are sick to stay home.

Companies are continually updating their clients on what the coronavirus will mean for your business, plus events and policies are changing by the moment. Follow along with our rolling updates here:

Irrigation Association cancels its IA Show and Education Week (posted June 1): IA's President Jon Topham says the board of directors will help determine virtual offerings in the coming weeks to help replace the event's benefits as best they can.

Herring Group hosts PPP webinar (posted May 22): Recently, the SBA released the PPP Loan Forgiveness Application.  The Herring Group will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, May 26 at 1 PM CST to discuss the forgiveness application. This webinar is designed for both the landscape business owner and the person who will be completing the forgiveness application.  In the webinar, we will be addressing "owner-level" issues at the first part of the webinar and more tactical numbers issues (e.g. completing the form) for the second part of the webinar. Register here.

Country Clipper (posted May 20): The company has chosen to expand its Hero Program to include medical professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.

Jain posts State of the Landscape Industry webinar (posted May 14): With panelists from Corona Tools, Horizon and Landscapes USA, Jain Irrigation has posted a previously recorded webinar called "The State of the Landscape Industry During COVID-19." The webinar can be viewed for free here. "You will learn creative ways to solve business challenges you are facing every day," the website says. "Business is changing for all of us, and these three are leading the change." 

GIE+EXPO still on (posted May 13): Show organizers said GIE+EXPO, the international landscape, outdoor living and equipment exposition, will take place as planned this year on October 21- 23 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville. Read more here

SnowWolf (posted May 7): In partnership with Fastbeds, a manufacturer of emergency field hospital beds, SnowWolf began assembling, packaging and shipping beds to the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.  Read more about it, here

GPS Insight (posted May 7): GPS Insight released a video describing how telematics can help during an economic downturn. Click here to view it. 

We're hosting another webinar (posted May 6): Editor Brian Horn will be joined by Dean DeSantis, president of DeSantis Landscapes in Oregon and Bruce Moore Jr., president of Eastern Land Management in Connecticut and New York to discuss operating a landscaping company during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more details, click here.

TaskEasy & Cub Cadet (posted May 4): The two companies are teaming up to provide free lawn care service to first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to get all the details. 

Briggs & Stratton Corporation (posted May 1): The company is proud to be a part of a MaskForce consortium that has designed, developed and produced a reusable face mask with disposable filters to protect these individuals. Read how the company has been creating the filters, here

iQ Power Tools (posted May 1): Q Power Tools, a manufacturer of power tools with integrated dust collection systems, has donated over 18,000 N95 respirator masks to two community healthcare facilities, located right in the company’s very own backyard. Click here to read the full press release. 

TORO COMPANY (posted April 20): The Toro Company will donate $500,000 to assist families and communities worldwide that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the company will match employee contributions to a nonprofit organization of their choice in support of relief efforts.

NUFARM (posted April 20): Nufarm has launched a new Virtual Learning Series for turf and ornamental professionals in light of the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. The series features short learning modules on various industry topics, including naturalized areas maintenance and premium weed control for sedges and kyllinga. Click here to view the online resource. 


The Nursery and Landscape Association Executives of North America (NLAE) and the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) recently launched a COVID-19 resource page showing the open/closed/restricted status of nursery industry segments in different U.S. states and Canadian provinces. 

You can find this page by clicking here.

A FREE OFFER FOR HEALTH CARE WORKERS (posted April 17): Cary, North Carolina-based landscaping start-up Canopy Lawn Care is hiring displaced workers and providing free lawn maintenance for health care workers on the front line of the crisis.

It is collaborating with Greenscape, another Triangle-area landscaping company. It provides local health care professionals with free one-time mowing services and discounted ongoing services for the next two months. In addition, customers of both companies, as well as the general public, have the opportunity to sponsor health care workers and pay for their lawn maintenance for a single visit up to two months.

“We’re excited to be able to support our community in this fashion” says Jason Stanley, chief growth officer at Canopy. “The idea is that they have enough on their plate right now without having to worry about their lawn getting mowed. If we can make things just a bit easier for them we want to do that.” Greenscape CEO Daniel Currin echoes that sentiment, “It’s great to be able to actually do something to help right now, when a lot of people are feeling helpless.”

For more information on what the North Carolina company is doing, click here

WorkWave (posted April 16): WorkWave recently put together a resources page to help lawn and landscape companies (and field service companies overall) get through COVID-19. Additional resources from the company include A blog post outlining five things you can do in WorkWave Service right now to help your business persevere through COVID-19, and a digital toolkit with communication templates including social media images, website copy, email copy, contact-free badges, business e-cards and a communications checklist that outlines what businesses should be doing during this time to communicate effectively with their customers.

NALP'S FINANCIAL RESOURCES SECTION (posted April 9): From understanding FFRCA to the CARES Act, NALP has launched two programs – and a Financial Resources section – dedicated to keeping landscapers informed on how they can leverage the financial help during the pandemic. 

YAHOO LAUNCHES SMALL BUSINESS INITIATIVE (posted April 8): Yahoo Small Business has launched a new Pay it Forward initiative to help small businesses, offering an annual license of the company’s Business Maker solution free for one year. This license includes consultation time from a small business expert, a website builder and more.

Also, the company has launched a COVID-19 Small Business Resource Center, a compilation of resources (updated daily) from government, non-profit and private companies to support small businesses.

EDEN (posted April 8): On-demand landscaping provider, Eden is offering everyone the chance to give back to those on the front line of the coronavirus by offering free services to healthcare workers and grocery store employees. To become a sponsor, fill out this form and an Eden representative will contact you. For each contribution, donations will be made to Food Banks Canada or Feeding America as well.

BRIGHTVIEW'S HEALTH MEASURES (posted April 7): BrightView Holdings, a commercial landscaping services company in the United States, recently posted details of the company’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

A presentation outlining the measures BrightView has taken to protect the health and safety of its team members and customers, as well as real and potential business impacts resulting from COVID-19, can be found on the company’s investor website. The presentation includes landscaping’s designation as an essential service as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

LAURELROCK COMPANY (posted April 7): Company President Burt DeMarche has decided, while landscape companies remain an essential business in Connecticut, LaurelRock will suspend non-essential services for the next two weeks to protect their employees, clients, and community to help flatten the curve. 

The LaurelRock leadership team has had a coronavirus action plan in place since March 16 to continue working on behalf of their clients safely.

“We appreciate the understanding and support that we have received from our clients and other professionals in our decision to temporarily suspend non-essential services to protect the health and welfare of our greater community, clients, and our employees," DeMarche said. "We are doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, and we urgently request that others in our industry do the same. Please stay home and stay safe.” 

For the whole story from LaurelRock, click here.

WALKER MOWERS (posted April 2): Walker Mowers released a video titled "Standing United Together." Click here to watch it. 

LAWN LOVE: Lawn Love, an on-demand lawn care provider, conducted a survey and found 90% of its contractors are operating as they usually do while 5% have slowed down and 5% have stopped. You can read the full article here

BRIGGS & STRATTON (posted March 31): Briggs & Stratton announced it will continue to implement preventative measures for the safety of its employees and customers. In light of the pandemic, the company is reducing manufacturing activity at several of its facilities and has shut down other plants. For more information, click here.

NCLC CANCELED (SORT OF): The National Association of Landscape Professionals initially canceled the National Collegiate Landscape Competition as a result of the travel and health concerns. You can read more about that cancellation here. However, NALP has converted the competition into a virtual education opportunity to be held April 7-8 from 1-4 p.m. EST each day. You can read more about that here.

STATE-BY-STATE UPDATES: NALP will also be keeping tabs on each state's stance on whether landscaping is to be considered essential or non-essential businesses during a shutdown. Read more about that here.

CATERPILLAR: (Story posted March 26) At this time, Caterpillar is continuing to run the majority of its U.S. domestic operations and plans to continue operations in other parts of the world, as permitted by local authorities. However, due to uncertain economic conditions resulting in weaker demand, potential supply constraints and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions, Caterpillar is temporarily suspending operations at certain facilities. The company will continue to monitor the situation and may suspend operations at additional facilities as the situation warrants.

SYNGENTA: Syngenta released the following statement: "As we adapt to the unprecedented challenges posed by the quickly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we want to assure you that Syngenta continues to take steps to ensure we are operating safely.  Syngenta’s priority is the health and safety of our employees, families, customers and partners. We continue to assess the situation daily and take actions in an abundance of caution to maintain business continuity while focusing on the safety and health of our customers and employees." The full statement can be viewed here.

IRRIGATION ASSOCIATION: Meanwhile, the Irrigation Association released a statement that says "understands and supports the aggressive preventive measures being taken across the globe as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic." A majority of its staff in Fairfax, Virginia, has moved to remote work as a result. You can read more from the association's website here.

SOME GENERAL GOOD TIPS: NALP has also established guidelines to assist business owners. These tips include complying with all federal, state and local advisories; actively urging employees who are sick to stay home; and thoroughly disinfecting personal protective equipment.

While the Centers of Disease Control assessed that for most people the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus is low, businesses should start preparing for more employee absences.

The NALP suggests cross-training personnel in the event that a key member of the team is absent for an extended period of time. It’s also important to note that the Coronavirus is a reportable illness with OSHA.

It’s also recommended that companies begin reviewing policies and procedures, along with preparing to alter business practices if needed.

According to the CDC, Oregon has 75 reported cases, while neighboring state Washington has reported 1,012 cases and 52 deaths.

For Ben Bowen, head landscape designer with Ross NW Watergardens in Portland, his company has already begun putting preventative measures in place.

“Right now, it’s still business as usual for us. We had a discussion with all of our teammates,” Bowen said. “We made sure everyone understood the symptoms, and we told them we expect them to stay home if they have any of them.”

Bowen added that at Ross NW Watergardens, employees have a pool of paid time off that they can utilize for sick, personal and vacation days.

“Usually, our employees will come to work if they have a minor cold,” he said. “However, we made sure they know to stay home, and if they have to take off for this it won’t impact their normal pool of paid time off.”

Bowen noted some companies may not be able to offer the same courtesy to their employees.

“For states that don’t have mandated paid time off, there could be a problem,” he said. “There can be a little hostility toward those who are perceived to be spreading the virus.”

According to Bowen, Ross NW Watergardens has already begun to be negatively impacted by the growing panic over the Coronavirus.

“I just got an email from a client who was very motivated to do a backyard project with us,” he explained. “He loved all the ideas but told me with things being so uncertain he could not invest the money into the project at this time. In the design/build industry we’re seeing people worried about the economy.”

Bowen said he expects the maintenance and manufacturing sectors of the industry to be affected as well, especially in areas that quarantine.

“If we were to see something like what is going on in Italy, then crews could be idle for weeks,” he said. “Manufacturing disruptions could increase wait time for parts and equipment.”

While everyone is being cautious, Bowen said that employees are staying calm in the meantime.

“The tone is really that we’re not worried for ourselves but realize there are people in the community who are especially vulnerable. We want to protect those people by being,” he said.

Bob Grover, president of Pacific Landscape Management, also in Portland, said that while the health risks are undeniable, he is more concerned about the economic impact.S

“My biggest concern over the Coronavirus is the potential impact on the economy,” he said. “We are hearing of all the things being cancelled or postponed. The impact that the Coronoavirus has on the travel, hotel and convention industries will have ripple effects into the overall economy.”

Grover added that beginning late last week, Pacific Landscape Management began researching and formulating a plan.

“We want people to practice good hygiene,” he said. “That means washing your hands when you get to work, when you go home and throughout the day. Also, coughing or sneezing into your elbow. We told employees don’t come to work if you feel sick. If you do come sick, and we feel that you’re coughing, or feverish, we will send you home.”

Grover said he believes that in states without mandated sick leave employees will show up to work even if they have some of the symptoms.

“The good thing about Oregon is we’re a very progressive state and it’s required that all employees have sick leave,” he said. “So, it’s not as big of an issue here in Oregon as it might be in other states.”

At Pacific Landscape Management some employees have scheduled travel plans that may be cancelled and others may choose to cancel trips in highly affected areas.

“We told employees that they have the choice to self-select out and not go if they are not comfortable,” he said. “We want everybody to take their personal health into their own hands. We want to encourage people to do that and not feel like there will be any retributions.”

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