It’s true this summer may not have been the hottest, longest or sunniest in Toronto’s history. But even so, some people would rather be outside than in.
One of the obvious benefits of landscaping is that workers get to be outside all summer long. In addition to the environment, a career in landscaping can also offer a rewarding sense of accomplishment following the completion of a project.
“I get to be outside 24/7,” says Mike Squibb, owner of City Wide Property Grooming. “I love it.”
Squibb, 28, has been involved with landscaping and yard work since he was a young child. He opened up his own company two years ago, focused on providing high-end property care through a variety of construction and maintenance services.
Although he has had no formal, institutional training, Squibb has grown up working on properties through family businesses. He says he has over a decade of experience. It was that experience that allowed him to recognize shortages in the industry and carve out an underserved niche.
“I started the company because I’m not just the average cut and see you later kind of guy,” he says, referring to a collection of other landscapers who focus more on the quantity of jobs, rather than quality. He says noticing rushed work became a sickness.
According to Brian Speers, program co-ordinator of Seneca College’s Environmental Landscape Management program, there is a common philosophy that anyone with a pick-up truck can be a landscaper.
However, Speers says, the options available and the modernization of the industry make formal training quite significant.
“The environment is becoming a more important issue to everyone on the planet,” he says. “A background in environmental restoration helps with the jobs they (graduates) get.”
Environmental restoration is just one of the areas students cover in the two-year program.
It focuses on maintaining or re-creating natural environmental habitats during the construction processes. For example, if a subdivision is being built on a river, a landscaper with knowledge of environmental restoration will be able to re-create that river to ensure nature and human life can co-exist.
Along with classroom work, the program also gives students a number of practical opportunities to hone their skills. In addition to the hands-on courses there is also a full-time, 16-week co-op.
For many, Speers says, it’s the hands-on work that gives students and professionals alike, a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
“I take a lot of pride in my work,” says Squibb. “You see the transformation of the property.
Even in a clean up, you see it turn around.”