STREET BEAT: Landscaping ‘at its best’
Landscaping is another profession where there is more than meets the eye.
While the eye may perceive the finished product, there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes to make a beautiful garden space which some may take for granted.
But in these tough times, are Barbadians maintaining their properties? Do people care enough to keep their surroundings beautiful in the midst of a recession?
The answer is yes and no. Owner of Lawns and Landscapes Omar Squires said it was all up to the individual.
“You have to consider there are still people who can afford to invest in landscaping but to cut costs will not invest in allowing their properties to flourish. I find there are customers who prefer a balanced service and others who just want their lawns cut. It is up to the individual,” he said.
Squires said there was a lot more to landscaping than cutting lawns and many people failed to remember to keep their properties maintained. To combat this, he said his company educated its customers.
“We ensure we educate our customers so they know what is necessary even if they don’t want to use us to keep their properties maintained. Education is something that is lacking but the industry is not regulated,” he said.
Squires said it was too easy for anyone to buy a weed whacker and call themselves a landscaper.
“People won’t even ask if someone had any training at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic but you have to have a lot of knowledge about soils, pests, plants and how to protect them and more. It’s all about offering a professional service at a competitive price,” he said.
After ten years in the business, Squires said landscaping had been transformed with technology such as with social media, online payments and web sites. In addition, he said there were constant equipment updates which one had to keep in touch with to remain competitive.
Anthony Remise, the owner of AR Landscaping and Maintenance Services, said people were still “keeping the place in order” but were looking for cheap labour.
“Some don’t mind paying for the work to be done but others are cheap so they don’t mind what type of work they get as long as the grass is cut. Some people don’t consider this work important but I operate as a professional and it bothers me if I don’t do a good-looking job,” he said.
Remise said he did both private and Government jobs and had been at it since the 90s. He said he noticed there were now a lot more people in the business but not all had the correct mindset.
“Some people are doing it just for the money not for the love of the job and then they don’t even spend money back on the business. Me, I have spent so much making sure I have the best equipment to work with,” he said.
Speaking of love, Remise said the freedom of the job was what kept him going.
“It gives you the opportunity to be yourself, not just self-employed but having a purpose in life where you know you have a job to do by a certain time and in a certain way. This is something I believe my children should take over, I don’t want to just do it and it done with me,” he said.
Horticulturalist Kirk Wiltshire was on a job when Street Beat visited him.
He works for landscape and maintenance company Anthureus and was in the process of growing a lawn.
“We use mat grass to help out the average man in his pocket,” he said.
“It is cheaper to cut up the mats than to use plugs – we keep our work affordable but still high quality – but if people don’t want us to maintain their properties, they will either have to do it themselves or watch it go to ruin. We like to maintain our jobs but we can only go as far as we can go to suit your pocket,” he said.
One thing Wiltshire said he noticed was that people were often including fruit trees in their gardens in order to grow their own food and keep away from chemicals which may be found in supermarket fruit. As such, he said Anthureus only used organic pesticides and fertiliser when they planted fruit trees.
Wiltshire said his love of landscaping began from early and was nurtured over the years. He said his favourite part was seeing things grow and seeing something they worked on bloom.