Best route to learn?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by GraZZmaZter, Jul 12, 2003.

  1. GraZZmaZter

    GraZZmaZter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 740

    What would be the best avenue to take to learn ALL the in's and out's of landscaping? I do some things now such as bed renovations, maintenance, and some simple installs (rings, small beds, and such)

    I love cutting grass, and plan on continuing it, but the money is just not what i want it to be. Landscaping has alot more dollar potential. Even with the simple things i do, i can make as much in one afternoon, than i do all week cutting. AND I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT IM DOING!?!?! lol.

    I want to know how to install pavers, walls, ponds, etc.... the whole 9. Should i work with someone, hire someone with good landscaping background and learn as we go, school???

    Opinions good and bad please.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 538

    You are correct about the revenue. A much higher profit margin. Begin by working with someone who has experience. To keep overhead low, minimize equipment purchases. Sub out work that requires skidsteers, backhoes, etc. Rent other equipment such as bed edgers, sod cutters, etc. If you find you are renting a certain piece of equipment frequently, then you should maybe consider purchasing one. Good luck.
     
  3. GraZZmaZter

    GraZZmaZter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 740

    anyone else?
     
  4. teeca

    teeca LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,202

    home depo has really good books on things. doing patios and small retaining walls are easy, its all a matter of having enough time and charging for it. the most important step is the foundation or base. i bought a sod cutter from a rental store and got a great deal on it, same with a plate compactor. i started out doing the weekend thing, and i ran into weather/time/material problems. things like that really mess up your estimate! i ended up renting a plate compactor 3 times. dosen't sound like a big deal, until you look at your expenses after a job, wow! i lost $150 off my profit (thats how i look at it). sometimes it's better to spend a little more for the convenice.. besides, if you take care of your stuff, you can always sell it and recover most of the cost.
     
  5. most paver suppliers have installation training for their products.

    also

    ACLA has training available
     
  6. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,946

    Is there a college with a 2 year program within a half hour of you?

    Portland area here has 4.

    One west.
    One east.
    One over the river in Vancouver, WA.
    One 45 minutes south in Salem area.

    If that's available, I say there is no work alternative that can replace at least taking a few mimimum classes. The bare bones basics I'd recommend are:

    Plant Identification (plans and installs are done by Latin names)
    Irrigation
    Pesticides
    Soils

    These can be learned on the job or in books, but I think it would take 8 to 12 years of work experience to get all of what 6 months of classes would do for you in one shot.

    Turfgrass class would be nice, but I think that's an easier avenue to read up on.

    To be a really good landscaper, someone needs probably 8 years of experience without school.

    With school, I think that will trim down to 2 to 4 years. You'll see that I'm a big experience believer.

    School with experience, or lot's and lot's and lot's of experience plus book reading, will make the difference between being a professional landscaper, and being a professional landscape laborer in business.

    Lots and lots of experience is like an engine in a car. And college, even a year, is like putting a supercharger on that engine.

    Some experience and no college is the engine with one or two spark plug wires loose.
     
  7. Darwin

    Darwin LawnSite Member
    Posts: 101

    I would recommend doing some of the projects, your are interested in undertaking, on your own property.

    I know, money is a big factor, but hands on work is the best experience that you could hope for. And, I'm guessin' since you have your own property maintenance company already, you wouldn't like to work part-time for a landscaping outfit.

    You can read alot in books and take alot of classes (which does give you the basic knowledge), but nothing beats actually doing it yourself.

    I will say that you can learn quite a bit from just looking at other companys and see what types of projects they do.

    You said it best at the last. Learn as you go.

    Just my 02.
     
  8. GraZZmaZter

    GraZZmaZter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 740

    Thank you for all the input. I have some experience with renovations. I am doing projects around my own home and some of my clients.

    Can i post pictures from my hard-drive on here, or do they have to be digital? I have some pics of our work, but they are ll on 35mm film.

    Little off topic here, but....
    I am thinking about getting a camera phone when my contract comes up this year. They are digital cameras already built into the cell phone. I can think of a couple good reasons why they would benefit this industry.....

    * Download pics on computer for posting here on Lawnsite, or maybe a web page.
    * Show crew leaders trouble areas quickly wehn checking your routes( even quicker if they had a camera phone also you could send the pic to them)
    * Show clients recent pictures that may not be in your portfolio (if you have one)

    I'm sure we could all think of more, but these are some off the top of my head. Whatcha think??
     
  9. jeff_0

    jeff_0 LawnSite Senior Member
    from md
    Posts: 401

    i'm wanting to do the same thing. i'm doing mostly lawn mowing.. it's a steady income but i wanted to get my into landscaping.. patios, sidewalks, ponds, brick and stone designs.. i was thinking of taking a 2 year class..
     
  10. Mykster

    Mykster LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 668

    I have done this alot and it's helped. My backyard isn't fully finished just for this reason. Working with another person would be good experience, but it doesn't always pan out that way. So you gotta make your own experience.

    P.S. My Fathers' name is Darwin.
     

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