February 29th, 2012Newsbnewlook 0 Comments

Mail carriers have a saying about neither snow nor rain nor heat deterring them from doing their job. Landscapers would like a similar credo. But alas, they’re at the mercy of the elements as they work their outdoor magic.

Snow? Forget it; this is strictly a seasonal business. Rain? Never get too comfortable with a schedule. Heat? If it’s not raining, be prepared to sweat.

And that doesn’t even take the breeze into account.

“It never fails,” muses Leslie Pryor, owner of New Look Landscaping, during a recent job at Canton Township home. “When you start to put the mulch down, the wind kicks up.”

Sure enough, as members of her crew cut pieces of landscape fabric on which to lay light-brown mulch, a few strong gusts started treating them like sails. But being a resilient bunch, they got everything into place in short order.

All in a day’s work for the half-dozen New Lookers – including Leslie, who works just as hard as the guys, no matter how hot it might get on a summer job.

“You start out early in the morning, you get used to it, and it doesn’t beat you up as much,” said crew member Steve Artascos. “But you have to be in shape.”

That aspect of landscaping became more evident as the day progressed at the Canton home of Chuck and Alice Ranegar, where New Look’s job was to decorate the area around a new garage the Ranegars built last year.

The job started long before the crew arrived that morning.

“The first step is always going and seeing what their ideas are,” said Aaron Tomey, who has worked with Pryor for several years. “You have to get a feel for what they want before you ask them what they want to spend.”

“There’s a million questions you have to ask. Do they want plants that attract birds and butterflies? Do they have a lot of deer in their yards?” he explained. “You know what they all say? Low maintenance! Nothing’s low maintenance.”

For the Ranegar yard, they selected some plants that might come close to qualifying, such as Shasta daisy, Gold mound spirea, Pandora’s Box daylily, boxwood and paprika yarrow, along with the Japanese maple. All those fit into the scheme requested by Alice Ranegar.

“I told her I wanted little flowering trees,: she said. “I wanted to choose the colors. I wanted red, black and white, and I wanted the pink, flowering plants in the trees.”

During the project, she and her husband kept and enthusiastic watch on the proceedings, expressing surprise and delight about how quickly the crew worked, among other observations.

“You talk about professional,” Alice said. “They put down cardboard so they don’t make marks on your driveway. They really care about your property.”

Pryor would have it no other way.

“My motto to the guys is: When we leave, it should look like we were never there, besides the new beds and everything,” she said.

She considers such touches integral to a business that most often depends on customer satisfaction and resulting referrals for survival.

“Once people see your work and that the crew’s so good, it makes a difference.”

As for the crew members, they consider a job well done as a point of pride.

“What keeps our mind on the job is really the enhancement we’re doing,” Artascos said. “You can’t say, I’m going to bail out on the job because it’s hot. We find something about the job that’s rewarding.

The visual image certainly helps, as a project takes shape from some often rather nebulous ideas to a thing of beauty. Along the way, of course is plenty of improvisation, as no two jobs are exactly alike.

But with experience, landscapers are able to think quickly to come up with features their clients can enjoy.

For example, Pryor suggested a series of decorative boulders – a popular landscaping touch nowadays because of its cost-efficiency – to offset the new plants around the perimeter of the Ranegars’ garage.

Enter Tomey, the crew’s “rock star” (who also happens to play the guitar). Displaying a nimble creative touch, he helped the crew place stones small and large in configurations that impressed everyone, most importantly the Ranegars.

“That’s the touch of artwork,” Artascos said. “It actually is a talent. If you don’t have ht skills, you don’t get it to look right.”

Having achieved the right look – or the New Look, if you will – crew members could look back on their day with some perspective.

“The world of landscaping takes a lot of work,” said Artascos.

“You need a combination of strong arms and a strong sense of design.”

“And a little cooperation from the weather doesn’t hurt either.

OBSERVER-REPORTER – Sunday, August 3, 2003

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