Spring bolstering gardening and landscaping businesses

Published: Friday, May 11 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

She said the economic downturn also impacted the industry locally with fewer people spending money on their lawns and gardens.

"When the economy changed direction a few years ago, we really felt it," Harbin said. "Our traffic dropped off significantly."

She said that while the revenues have not yet returned to pre-2007 peak levels, this spring has seen a distinct double-digit improvement in sales.

"When the weather is perfect like this, it makes everybody excited about getting fun gardening stuff going," she added.

Both Harbin and Nielsen said that 2007 was the last "boom" year in which spring was ideal with adequate rainfall and moderate temperatures resulting in increased sales revenues.

"That was before the economy tanked," Nielsen said. "Then 2008 started the slide … and 2010 and 2011 were devastating weather years."

Last year had record precipitation and record cool temperatures, he said.

"That's not a good combination for the nursery business," Nielsen said. But this year's "more normal" spring has been a "lifesaver for everybody in the industry," he said.

He said due to the decline in the home building sector, his nursery lost a lot of its commercial business as fewer contractors were able to purchase landscaping products and foliage. But even that segment is starting to improve. However, most of the increase has been due to residential customers.

"People want color in their yards," he said. "Annual flowers, perennial flowers, hanging baskets and container planters."

He said orders are coming in on a daily basis and "stuff is flying in and stuff is flying out."

Nielsen said average annual sales for his business are in the $2 million range, though last year was well below that level.

With those lean times fresh in his mind, he said having a "normal" year is especially gratifying.

"Sunny weather just brings (the best) out," he said.

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

Twitter: JasenLee1

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