Monday, January 07, 2008

No Mow & Blows Need Apply

How cool is this Craigslist ad? C'mon, Sacramento, where are the companies offering eco-friendly garden maintenance? It's time! I do hope the homeowners understand that using human-powered tools takes more time and that gardeners will need to be adequately compensated.

Reply to:
Date: 2008-01-06, 8:49PM PST

High quality home in Sacramento seeks environmentally conscientious, skilled gardener to come once a week to mow (push mower), fertilize, trim shrubs, do weed control, rake and keep our gardens looking in tip-top shape. You must have experience in garden care. No mow and blow need apply. Must be dependable and trustworthy. Please reply with details of your experience.

* Location: Sacramento
* Compensation: $200 per month
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
* Please, no phone calls about this job!
* Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

PostingID: 530855537


  1. It depends on the size of the yard (and particularly the lawn), but $50 a week is a bit cheap for anything but "mow and blow."

  2. I agree. They shouldn't expect more than a couple hours work per week for that amount. Other factors to consider-- Whose tools? Will the gardener be compensated for time (and gas) spent shopping for new plants and supplies?

    And what about liability? This is why we need larger companies offering organic, quiet, clean-air gardening services. An organized company could offer their employees insurance, licensing, etc.

    And maybe a team of workers could "Mow & Rake" fairly quickly and then do the pruning, feeding, etc. It's still going to take more time than Mow & Blow and the pay is probably insufficient for the amount of work the owners are expecting.

    It's great that the homeowners want to move in this direction; they just might need to expect less work or increase the pay.

  3. Anonymous10:59 AM

    Hi Angela,
    Santa Barbara, CA has a program called "Green Gardener" that teaches professional gardeners about sustainable practices and certifies them! The classes are taught in English and Spanish and once completed, the gardener is certified and listed in the "Green Gardener Directory" This is a completely new market for many gardeners.But homeowners, be ready to pay lots more for the "hands on care" that this method requires. More cities should adopt this model. Read about it at this link:

  4. Anonymous2:03 PM

    The Green Gardener program looks really good, but you only need to look at the sample contract to see how much work is required, and therefore, how much that work will cost.

    Some people might just have someone come and mow the lawn, doing the rest of the work themselves. I did that when we lived in Oakland, and loved it. I had to spend no time coercing the DH into mowing the lawn and got to devote my time to the other tasks (which I enjoy).

  5. Great stuff (again). A couple of leads for you. Google around for Terra Nova Ecological Landscapes out of Santa Cruz. It's an all human powered landscaping and maintenance business run by Ken Foster. Their transportation is all by bicycle and seek to create "fossil free" landscapes.

    Second - Santa Barbara has an educational and training program run through our adult education system, called The Green Gardener program. I was one of the founders and still teach some courses. It trains local gardeners (and a handful of homeowners) in the methods of sustainable landscaping, then certifies the graduates. You can find out more at I believe that the person who now runs it (Phil Boise) is marketing the program to other communities.

    This might help you see some hope in the unending proliferation of mow, hoe and blow "plant janitors" we're all subjected to (and the tasteless visual blight it brings).

  6. Hi, Shirley (edenmaker)!

    The Green Gardener program sounds wonderful. Thanks for letting us know about it. It's especially great to be able to see who's sponsoring the program in Santa Barbara. Similar agencies in each California city could get together and promote Green Gardening.

    Hi, Billy (garden wise guy)!

    I first heard about Terra Nova in Santa Cruz on a garden blog. Yours? Trey's? Can't remember. Anyway, it's a VERY cool, very Santa Cruz concept and I loved the shot of the bikes with gardening gear attached to the back.

    Thanks also for the contact on the Green Gardener program. I will pass it along to some like-minded Sacramentans. This is all great stuff!

  7. Anonymous10:38 AM

    This is an issue that gets me, Angela! In Los Angeles, a city chock full of air and noise pollution, the mow and blowers have power.
    When I design gardens, I try and hook my clients up with the best, organic, no mow/blow gardeners, but they balk at the price. And I must say, $450 a month to care for a drought tolerant garden is steep!
    In my dreams, I imagine a semi-organized work force of garden design students charging reasonable rates to maintain a garden w/o the noisy, smelly, polluting accoutrements.

    There was actually a ban on gas powered blowers voted in by the residents of Los Angeles, but somehow it was beaten back by the mow/blow lobby! They said it would take them too long to rake and sweep! Can you imagine that?

  8. Anonymous8:57 AM

    Interesting. I wonder if someone really could make a go at that with reasonable rates. Have you let the Garden Rant folks know about this? I can see them running with this idea.

    By the way, thanks for the link.

  9. Anonymous10:25 AM

    It would have to be a pretty small yard. It takes a lot more time to mow with a push mower (not to mention the extra effort)

    Nice thought environmentally though. Most lawn mowers and blowers are very inefficient and smog producing.