SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

August 4, 2010

Landscaper: Grass, business are not growing

BEVERLY — There's at least one person who's ready for the summer sunshine to end — Shawn Wear, owner of Shawn's Lawns in Beverly.

Wear grew up in Beverly, and he has been in the landscaping business on the North Shore for 17 years. He employs a crew of four guys, including his son and his nephew, who do everything from mowing and mulching to building patios and walkways.

Wear says this year's dry, hot summer has been one of the worst — both for lawns and for business. He shared some tips with us to keep your grass green and your flowers blooming.

It's been a dry summer. Are people still cutting their grass as often?

No, they're not. We've been fortunate the last few years to have nice, rainy summers. The drought actually started in June, and we started slowing down in June, which is real early. ... There's been a lot of water bans, too. Topsfield, Hamilton, Wenham — they have no outside water at all. These towns have hit me hard. I've had to skip them a lot.

The economy's not helping either. Everyone's seeing cutbacks, and everyone's cutting the landscapers first. ... Looking at the books, it's starting to come back a little bit, but over a three-year trend I haven't had any real growth, and (previously) I've had strong growth the entire time I've been in business.

Is summer usually your busiest time of year?

The spring and fall are our busiest. In the summer, it's mostly mowing, trimming shrubs.

What has it been like working outside in this heat?

You just have to put up with the heat sometimes. You have to drink a lot of water. My guys bring a gallon of water to work with them every day. And it's OK, I tell them, if you start to overheat to sit in the truck with the air conditioning for 10 minutes. I'm not a slave driver. As long as the work gets done, I'm happy.

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