Every year, Judy Chapman eagerly awaits the moment she can put down her snow shovel and pick up a spade.
She has always loved getting her hands dirty and making her yard beautiful.
“Gardening is wonderful. It’s a great chance to get outside and do what I love, so I do it,” Chapman said.
This year, many Edmontonians have found they share Chapman’s passion for yards, even if they’re not quite so eager to do the work themselves.
Across the street from her Glenora home, Chapman’s neighbours have hired landscapers to completely redo their yard.
Chris Delaney says it has been a busy year. This is his fourth project already this spring.
“Full on, full throttle right from when the snow melted,” Delaney said about his work schedule.
Delaney’s boss adds the whole company and industry is booming. Landscapers have thrived in a bizarre economy changed by COVID-19.
“It’s been a little unexpected,” said Sean Lukian, who owns RCL Canada Landscaping. “I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen this kind of a request for quotes.
“People are wanting to do something in their yard regardless of what it is. That demand has just peaked. It’s unbelievable.”
RCL isn’t even looking for jobs the way it used to. Traditionally, much of its work stemmed from contacts made at home and garden shows. COVID-19 cancelled those and the work is still coming in.
Lukian says he was swamped in March and April with requests for quotes. He says the company has done about 30 per cent more quotes than they would have in pre-COVID years.
He has hired roughly 50 per cent more staff to do the work and he’s already fully booked until September. He says people are stuck in their homes and aren’t spending on travel. Instead, they’re spending on beautifying wherever they are spending time.
He’s grateful that his industry has been spared by COVID’s economic brunt. He feels fortunate. However, Lukian adds the landscaping industry isn’t immune from challenges created by bizarre economic realities.
“Manufacturing is the problem. Products that are normally readily available are delayed. So we’ve had to do a lot of pre-ordering,” Lukian said.
Lukian said lumber is particularly problematic. The same attitudes that prompt people to beautify their yards are spurring on home building and home renovations. Demand for wood has skyrocketed. As a result, prices have tripled and supply is no longer a guarantee.
Sprinkler pipe is also a problem for Lukian. The PVC supply chain has been disrupted by both COVID and the ice storms in Texas. Getting irrigation supplies is much harder than it used to be.
Every other landscaper is also busier, meaning all materials are a little bit harder to come by. As a result, planning has become more important than ever. RCL has pre-ordered most of the materials for the season.
“Our bookings are crazy, We’d run the risk of not having product, not being able to work, even though the work is there,” said Lukian, who is quick to add those are problems he’s more than happy to have.