Mar. 31—Over the last year, many people have been at home more than ever. For some, that’s meant the start of lawn and landscaping projects they might have been putting off, and for some landscaping companies, that’s meant good business.
In Frederick County, Hudson Landscaping in New Market, Frederick Landscaping and Shade Tree Landscaping serve residents for a variety of needs, from drainage problems to planting.
Frederick Landscaping is a family- owned and operated business that’s main office is located on McKinstry Mill Road in New Windsor. It was founded in 1989 by Scot Morrow and serves Frederick County and the surrounding area, providing services like landscaping and planting, drainage, hardscaping, water features, commercial snow removal and lawn care.
“A lot of people, the money that they didn’t need to go on vacation this year or last year—everyone stayed at home, so they’re investing [that] money into their backyard or front yard to spruce up their house,” said Pete Morrow, co-owner of the company.
As far as reoccurring problems he sees in the area, Morrow said that in a lot of the newer developments access can be an issue because the lots are smaller. “It’s all about access for us … getting our machinery in and out of the backyard.”
Some solutions to this problem include looking into getting smaller equipment and working with homeowners associations to get access from the back of the house.
For a common problem like drainage issues in the yard, Morrow said they could start by checking to make sure the grade has positive drainage away from the house and that there’s no settling or puddling around the foundation.
They would then look at downspouts to make sure they’re getting water away from the house in the most cost-effective way.
As for plants and trees that people might want to enhance their property, Morrow recommended visiting nurseries that sell native plants, and to consider the yard’s environment. “Look to see if there’s a lot of deer around your house, … what direction your house faces, and then also remember in the wintertime if you’re up on a hill it’s very windy, it can be hard on some evergreens,” he said.
Shade Tree Landscaping owner Charlie Carter concurs that a lot of people want projects done now that they’re home all the time, and he is seeing more requests than ever. Located in Frederick, his business, in operation since 1991, offers commercial and residential landscaping installation and renovations in the county and surrounding areas.
“You get people that typically don’t pay someone to do their stuff, or some people try it. They’re home, they want to do it themselves, but they can’t physically do it, so it’s been an opportunity for us to grow,” he said, noting that the company has added employees and is bringing in more revenue.
One problem Carter said his company faces is coming in behind other companies because they didn’t do good quality work. He said he tries to be detailed as possible about the work he will provide so people know exactly what they’re getting.
When adding new plants, Carter said it’s important to take notes about the areas where they’ll go. “Do they get [full] shade or partial shade? Do they get sun? You want to investigate thoroughly to make sure the plant that you’re getting is going to survive in that area,” he said.
For flowerbed borders, Carter likes liriope, a stemless groundcover with grass-like leaves. Within the liriope, he likes golden cypress and foundation shrubs, such as a holly shrub. For pizazz, Carter’s favorite is the Japanese Laceleaf weeping maple tree.
Make sure the landscaping company you work with is legitimate, licensed and insured. “References are always nice,” Carter said. “Make sure you get a thorough estimate … The details are important. Ask questions. Research online a little bit about what questions to ask.”
Jeff Hudson of Hudson Landscaping, a family-owned business in New Market, offered similar advice.
“I’ve seen a huge increase in that when the pandemic hit, and a lot of people were laid off … you got some people out here trying to do landscaping,” he said. There’s plenty of work in the area to share, but not everyone is licensed, insured and knows what they’re doing.
“[People] need to do their research,” he said. “They need to make sure that they’re a legit company, they pay their taxes, they have the certifications to do things.”
And contracts are important, too. If you’re having a person or business doing the work for you, it’s crucial to have one in place so expectations are clearly defined.
Hudson also added that one problem in the industry itself is that everyone is trying to be “the cheap guy,” meaning that rates widely vary.
As far as business goes, Hudson said in some ways it’s slowed down, but in other ways they have been busier.
“Half and half,” he said. “You don’t know everybody’s situation, but I felt like there was an increase because of the stimulus because some people had some extra money to get some things done or some stuff repaired or do some stuff outside and around the house.”
Hudson Landscaping offers mowing and turf care, planting and pruning and small tree trimming. It serves Frederick County and the surrounding area.
Going into the spring, Hudson said the business will work on repairing damage from the winter in general and from snow removal. “We’ll fix ruts and grass and stuff like that, and then we’ll go into doing spring cleanups and mulching and pruning, aeration, seeding—just starting to get everything together for the springtime from any type of damages.”
And when it comes to plants, Hudson said it’s all about personal preference, and his is boxwoods, which are small bushes or trees that can be used to make hedges or boundaries in gardens.
“I think they’re very low maintenance and very hearty,” he said, adding that it’s important that people know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to different soil conditions required for certain plants.
Follow Hannah Himes on Twitter: @hannah_himes