Blooming business

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 2, 2010

NATCHEZ — Spring is the time of year when landscape businesses are in full bloom.

With trucks and trailers loaded with soil, mulch, flowers, shrubs and equipment, representatives from local landscape companies said when the weather starts warming, the calls start coming.

Scottie Floyd, owner of Miss-Lou Landscaping, said a large percentage of his company’s work started just a few weeks ago and will continue for the next several weeks.

“Spring is probably when 75 percent of the industry’s time is spent planting and getting ready for the growing season,” he said.

Floyd said the landscaping and lawn care rush comes from a short window of good planting weather. He said much general maintenance and planting have to wait until the dormant winter season is over.

“Typically, Good Friday is a good rule of thumb. You are hoping the last killing frost is over by Good Friday,” he said. “We basically follow the same rules of agriculture as farmers. We are just producing ornamentals instead of food, but the basic rules apply.”

Gary Wills, owner of Creative Exteriors, said the local upswing in business is true to what he has seen in other areas he has worked.

Wills moved to Natchez just four months ago and said the work he is getting locally is similar to what he was doing in the Dallas metro area.

“I’ve been pleased coming from a big metro area to see that we have a lot of people here that seem to have a passion for their yards and landscape,” he said. “I haven’t felt much of a drop off as far as fielding leads and having opportunities to do work.”

Wills said the spring is the time of year when landscapers and companies learn if they are cut out for the business.

“Typically your spring is a predictor of your year,” he said. “If you aren’t busy in the spring you might be in the wrong profession. There seems to be a lot of opportunity out there for people to generate a whole lot of business.”

Floyd said that while the spring is the busiest time period for work, to be successful landscape companies have to find ways to parlay the spring work load into year-round jobs.

“You have to be diversified enough to carry you through the rest of the year,” Floyd said. “Things like maintenance and annual accounts help make up the difference. Accounts that we maintain once a week during the summer, we may only see every two weeks depending on what we do, but that is the kind of work we depend on.”

Landscape Resources’ owner Tommy Smith said his company, which specializes in landscape construction and tree service, sees a small increase in work during the spring and early summer. He believes people are more apt to notice landscape or tree problems in the spring and summer than when plants are traditionally dormant.

“I’d say we probably see a 25 to 30 percent increase,” he said. “People don’t see a lot of things they need done until trees are starting to leaf out and they realize they have something dead or isn’t growing like it has in the past.”

Smith said he sees the largest pick up in business due to major storms that damage trees, something the area hasn’t seen lately.

“Even from the snow, we only saw minor damage to pines and broken limbs,” he said. “We’ve made a complete year without a major storm and the business related to that.”

Smith said warm weather inspires homeowners and landscape companies try to get all the work in they can before the spring work window shuts.

“Spring always inspires people to tackle thse projects so they can start enjoying being outside,” Smith said. “Generally, your window for landscape runs from march to Mother’s Day and after people start putting projects on the back burner again.”