80.3 F
San Fernando
Friday, Jan 27, 2023
-Advertisement-

Old School Gardeners Brush Up on New Skills

When Javier Salazar started his Sun Valley gardening service in 1982, clients hired Salazar Gardening to keep their lawns trimmed, edged and – above all – green. By the time his son, Alex, quit residential real estate amid the housing bust in 2007 and joined the family business, times had changed. Lawns were going brown and raggedy after foreclosures. And clients who could still pay for weekly mow-and-blow service switched to outfits racing each other to the bottom on price. So Alex, now 30, put his sales and marketing skills to work, establishing a website that brought in some commercial clients. His brother Francisco, 33, got a contractor’s license and the firm took on some landscaping projects. But it wasn’t until the rain stopped that business began to spring up. “I saw (the drought) as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle,” Salazar said. The Salazar brothers – 26-year-old Omar rounds out the trio – took continuing education courses on water management offered by the California Landscape Contractors Association and took a class at Pierce College on Southern California native plants. They began marketing drought-tolerant landscaping four years ago, and last November, the company was approved as an official vendor with Metropolitan Water District’s SoCal WaterSmart program, which offers rebates for replacing water-hogging turf with low-water landscaping. Now, Salazar Gardening offers a turnkey solution: It removes the old turf, designs and installs the new yard, and handles the rebate paperwork. “Our phone never stops ringing. We get three solid inquiries a day,” Salazar said. The company still has a roster of mow-and-blow clients, but now about 60 percent of its business comes from drought-related jobs. And while he won’t disclose annual revenue, Salazar said sales are running about 30 percent ahead of last year. He’s keenly aware, however, of two things: A native garden, once established, doesn’t need intensive, weekly care like a lawn does; and neither the rebates nor the drought will last forever. To address the first issue, Salazar Gardening developed a monthly maintenance contract to encourage ongoing business and help clients ensure that their native plants thrive. As for the second, Salazar believes that sustainable landscaping is here to stay – even after the raindrops return. “This makes sense as water rates keep increasing. I also think it’s clear that public awareness has been created. Even after the rebate program runs out of money, a lot of people will still want a sustainable landscape,” he said. – Karen E. Klein

-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-