The Perimeter area’s entrance into spring and summer has brought a little bit of new life to the community’s landscaping businesses.
“We’re seeing jobs now that are larger in scope than [jobs were] four or five years ago,” said Molly Welch of Sandy Springs-based W Design Landscape. “People have more confidence to invest more money in their property.
“During the recession, people weren’t splurging on their projects. The average cost of a job we did four or five years ago was $5,000. Now, it’s $15,000.”
“If you’re a landscaper and your schedule isn’t crazy this time of year, you need to be in another business,” said Andy Batcheller, owner of Handy Andy Outdoors, based in Chamblee. “People are spending money again, and landscaping and lawn maintenance is a service that more people are hiring out.”
The community is only now beginning to emerge from the most recent recession, said Mark Erbesfield, president of Greenmark Landscaping in north Atlanta.
“We did go through a recession, but Atlanta was a little late to that party,” Erbesfield said. “That was a good thing, but it also means we were a little slower to come out of it. But now, we’re well on the road to recovery. We’re very busy, and have a lot of good leads coming in.”
According to a national survey conducted by Lawn & Landscape magazine, landscaping industry revenues are expected to grow nationwide by 8.5 percent. The industry trade publication’s survey said 92 percent of landscaping businesses expect to turn a profit in 2015.
“All of the areas we service are seeing plenty of growth,” Erbesfield said. “But the Buckhead, Sandy Springs and Chastain Park communities were the first to come back online. We’ve stayed the busiest in those areas, and there’s always a lot of construction going on.”
The recent slate of new cities has also meant some changes for landscaping businesses. “It impacts us in terms of the process of getting our permits approved,” Erbesfield said. “Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Dunwoody are all good to work with. The city of Atlanta is a bit more challenging, mainly due to their additional regulations.”
“The biggest challenge is finding people who want to work,” Batcheller said. “We all pull from the same pool of laborers.”
Also, customers are more environmentally conscious today, Batcheller said. “We’ve seen trends leading to more drought-friendly grasses and smarter irrigation,” he said. “Even though we’ve had a lot of rain this season, water will continue being a big issue. We’re also seeing more customers ask for chemical applications that lessen the environmental impact.”
But not every client is into eco-friendly landscaping these days. Welch was approached recently by a Brookhaven family who wanted to clear-cut their entire front lawn and plant grass.
“I told them to embrace the shade,” she said. “I don’t believe in clear cutting just for the sake of it.”
–By Tim Darnell