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Thursday, Jun 8, 2023


JILL ROSENFELD Staff Reporter With home prices at their highest level since the early ’90s and the economy still holding up, Angelenos are spending money on landscaping to the delight of everyone from sprinkler installers to landscape architects. “In leaner times, they’d bypass the yard in favor of finishing something on the inside,” said Steve Silva, a Hollywood Hills landscape architect who has seen his business double in the last year. “That’s what I always hear from my clients: the landscape is the icing on the cake.” The landscape industry feels the effects of a strong real estate market later than brokers, architects, or developers, according to Richard Sperber, president of the landscape installation division of Environmental Industries Inc. The Calabasas-based nursery and maintenance company counts the Getty Center and the L.A. County Museum of Art among its clients. “Landscaping is the last thing done,” Sperber said. “We feel the boom a little later than everyone else, and the slowdowns a little later also.” Sperber said that in the last year, the nursery business has seen a 25 percent to 45 percent increase as residential and commercial property owners alike spruce up their outdoor areas. Much of the growth in the single-family home sector has been driven by high-end homeowners. “People have more money, and they’re leapfrogging into the house of their dreams,” Silva said. “There’s always a steady market for your basic no-brain smaller stuff. The major growth has been on the high end.” Garden Statuary in Tarzana has capitalized on the trend, increasing its revenue this year by targeting upscale clients who invest in fountains and concrete work worth over $20,000. “Our business is strictly discretionary spending, and so far this year, people have been in a spending mode,” said Wolf Anders, who has been helping with the marketing side. Discretionary spending has driven an increase of irrigation systems sales at Pierre Sprinkler & Landscape, said co-owner David Reed. “People have extra money to make improvements. We’ve seen a jump in the amount of sprinkler installations we’re doing, mostly for people who’ve been living in a house for three years, can refinance their home based on a higher value, and are finally doing the irrigation,” he said. Meanwhile, retailers like Sperling Nurseries in Calabasas have noticed stepped-up sales among the do-it-yourself crowd. “There are so many new homeowners, and gardening has become such a big hobby, this has been a very, very busy year,” said Liz Kimmel, a saleswoman for Sperling. “They may have put all their money into a house and can’t afford a formal landscape architect, and so they want to do it for themselves.” The spate of public-works projects around Los Angeles County is also a boon to the landscape business. In addition to the Getty, Environmental Industries has done landscape work for the new Queensway Bay development in Long Beach and improvements around Santa Monica’s pier and beach. Calvin Abe, past president of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ L.A. chapter, said he and others have been very busy with work in all sectors. “In the last six months, there has certainly been a lot more work in the private development sector,” he said. “A lot of developers are building for both commercial and industrial build-to-suit tenants, and a lot of high-end multifamily housing is going up.” Over the last year, Abe has hired three people for a total of eight employees to keep up with the demand. He has also hired part-timers, he said. Damage from El Ni & #324;o has also been a factor, several contractors said. “El Ni & #324;o has made a lot of people want to clean up, and do tree work,” said Andrew Williams, who owns Compton-based Pacific Landscape.

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