Garden Guy – Will Work for Heteros Only


Meet Todd and Sabrina Farber, owners of Garden Guy, Inc., a Houston landscaping company.  TheyFarbers_1 recently created a firestorm by sending this email to a potential customer:

"Subject: Cancel Appt – Garden Guy

"Dear Mr. Lord,

"I am appreciative of your time on the phone today and glad you
contacted us. I need to tell you that we cannot meet with you because
we choose not to work for homosexuals.

"Best of luck in finding someone else to fill your landscaping needs.

"All my best, Sabrina"

All my best, my ass.  Sabrina, how do you square that hateful missive with this bit of PR hoohah on your website:  "Treating you with respect and honesty are the cornerstones of our reputation."  Which reputation is now being hotly debated in Houston and on blogs everywhere.   Their website does show their hand, however, by promoting the No Gay Marriage website.

Bigots will be bigots, I suppose.  But to me, the appalling part of this story is the bluntness of the bigotry and the fact that it’s perfectly legal in Texas and almost everywhere in the U.S.  Should customers fight back by demanding that the designers and nurseries whose services and products they buy be equal opportunity businesspeople?  We’ll be following this story.

Thanks to Elizabeth at Gardening While Intoxicated for the alert.

P.S.  Links removed after reading Richard Boyd’s comment.


  1. Looks like a bit of link baiting to me. He is going to rocket up in the SERP’s with all the links going to his website.

    Of course you could always start to skew his results by linking to his website with something like “queer hating looser” as the anchor text.

  2. The bluntness is pretty amazing! Wow. I’m with the guy above that commented – it would be great to link the website with ‘queer hating looser’ – or better yet, ignore them. I’m hoping that alot of people will write them a letter expressing their frustration with this kind of blatant hate (and go elsewhere for their ‘landscaping needs’).

  3. Damn, I was just composing an email to send to the ranters and thought I should check before hitting send . Thanks for picking up on this. We want to know how poor, poor Mr. Farber “had done landscaping for gay clients before but had become increasingly “grieved” over visiting their homes to discuss design and plantings” …was it their poor plant choices (Ggayfeather? Cockscomb? Rosa ‘Fairy’?), or gasp! their color combos (too much pink and lavender?) that made him “grieve”? We queer gardeners want the answer and we want it now!!

  4. How did Miss Sabrina know Mr. Lord was one one them homa sex yulls from a phone conversation?

    Did the Lord say fabulous? Did the Lord say it needed to be done in six days for a fashion show? Did the Lord ask for some forbidden fruit trees?

    My Sweet Lord!

  5. I’m amused. Owners of privately held businesses can do what they want. They can take on the clients they want. All that is fine. I just have to laugh ’cause it seems like such BAD BUSINESS.

    Turning away clients because of sexual preference seems like one of the more ridiculous reasons to walk away from money… but that’s just me.

    All of Texas is not like this. I can assure you that there are people in Houston who want this job… and will get it.

    Let the market forces go to work. I’m sure there will be some who think this anti-gay policy is good. But if I had to bet on future earnings and long term growth, I’d bet on landscape designers who don’t worry about the sexual orientation of their clients.

  6. Ali, before you dismiss all Texans because our prez and the Farbers call it home, remember that Texas is also the home state of Ann Richards, Molly Ivins, Walter Cronkite, Willie Nelson, Lyndon Johnson, and plenty of smart, open-minded, and–dare I say it?–even liberal people. Every place has bigots, but lumping their neighbors in with them isn’t kind. In fact, it’s a bit bigoted too.

  7. Often, people are unaware of how hurtful discrimination can be — in any of its manifestations. Back when I was too young to know better, I myself was sometimes amused by jokes that made fun of other cultures. I rationalized that it wasn’t hurting anyone since they weren’t present to hear me laugh. Then one day I heard a radio DJ whom I had previously always liked, relaying blonde jokes that he elicited from callers. I sobbed uncontrollably for the rest of that day. Knowing that people had that misperception of “dumb blonde” and “easy blonde” made me feel degraded — even though I knew in reality I was intelligent and monogamous. It hurt me so much that I went as far as to dye my hair dark brown. And although I’d feel defensive whenever someone who only knew me with my dark hair would joke “with me” about blondes, I didn’t dare let on that I was one of them for fear of having the joke turned on me. Instead, I would just quickly change the subject to divert their attention away from that topic.

    Once I knew what it felt like to be degraded for a trait I was born with, I never again found any of those kinds of jokes amusing — unless they were being told by one of the targeted group’s own members.

    Certainly bigotry exists everywhere, but I believe it has become more the exception than the norm. I think the majority of people all over the world are more accepting now of people from cultures different from their own, than they were in years past.

    As for the exceptions — even people who themselves have been victims of bigotry, sometimes turn around and inflict it upon others. I want to provide a link to an article which shows how this can happen, but first I need to say that I hope no one gets the wrong impression. I know that there are only a few people who are guilty of this type of discrimination. In no way am I saying that the article represents the majority in the community. It is just to show how bigotry can come from anywhere — even where we’d least expect it.

    Here is that link:

  8. I read the article on Saturday in the NYTimes and was appalled this kind of bigotry is legal in Texas and other states. “Equal opportunity business people” is what business is about, not the bigoted world of a particular landscaper. If anything, I hope it is an eye-opener to the healthier minded people not to sit numb-numb. Contact your congress women & men and let them know, loud & clear, there is no room for such bigotry in our country.

  9. WOW, I actually had this a-hole out to give me a landscaping estimate a couple of years ago. Did NOT get a good vibe from him and did not hire him, thank heavens! I hope his business goes under.

    And thanks to those who came to the defense of Texas. Some of us agree with the Dixie Chicks, ya know.

  10. “Certainly bigotry exists everywhere, but I believe it has become more the exception than the norm.”

    Think we’re almost liberated from this form of hatred, huh? How many readers out there have shared a good laugh at the expense of a fat person this week? The beat goes on.

  11. There you go all the positive links have boosted his rating and he now claims…

    To have increased contracts, this year to the tune of $40,000, since the email was leaked. If everyone changed their linking text to something horrible. I wonder what that would do to his business?

    Can I suggest the “landscaping tosser” I would think that 5 or so websites linking to him using that phrase should get the no:1 spot overnight.

  12. Hatred?….It is sad that an independent business owner who chooses not to do business with a particular demographics is labelled hateful. The gay couple need to take there business elsewhere. Why does the whole world have to agree with the homosexual lifestyle? Homosexuals need to calm down.

  13. There is another issue here, and this being a garden blog…

    When I first heard of Houston Heights residents being turned down for a landscaping job because they were homosexual, I was confused. The Heights, is an old and established Houston neighborhood full of avid, committed, and sometimes wacky gardeners — we support our local businesses. There are a number of locally owned and operated nurseries that offer design services, as well as resident landscape designers. So I ask, why hire a business located in the barren suburbs to landscape your inner city yard.

    The Garden Guy website gave a very clear picture of the political and religious views they embrace, that bible verse was a big tip off. Why would anyone consider giving business to someone that holds views that are so offensive? Let’s be fair here, are you looking for confrontation? Yes, they are bigots, but so what. Don’t give them your business. Ignore them, and they will wither-and-die. That one email has produced a torrent of grief and anger for both sides.

    And I have to say the home owners in question are not unlike any of the new residents to our neighborhood. They have built a large Mediterranean extravaganza that is better suited to a gated suburban community. They don’t even have a backyard to landscape, it’s all house. It’s a problem that many older neighborhoods face; we are losing our original houses at a rapid rate, to be replaced by super-sized residences with little green space.

    So my point is … if the homeowners would have chosen to support local neighborhood shops, I guarantee the experience would have been far more pleasant. And no, I do not own a Heights business, but I do spend large amounts of money at my local nurseries.

  14. The gay couple went to them in order to start this whole mess.
    The owners have every right to choose who they work for, and who they do not.
    Their views were clear before the phone call was made.
    Amazing that somehow during the phone call it was made clear the couple was gay.
    And evrything since has shown nothing but hatred towards the company by the actual bigots here: the gay community.
    Look up the word.
    Gays are the epitome of bigot.
    They have even threatened to sodomize the owners children.
    That is not only hatred, that is sick and disgusting.
    Right in keeping with the gay lifestyle I suppose.

    This is a free country for the most part.
    You are free to do as you please.
    I am also free to choose not to associate with you for whatever reason.
    Get over it.
    Gays do not make all the rules, no matter how much of a hissy fit tantrum they pitch.

  15. The Woolworth lunch counters, the public restrooms and city busses were all clearly labled too about who would be served and how. Some brave souls sat at the counters, the front of the bus and walk in the wrong door. A little publicity from civil disobedience went a long way to create a nation closer to an ideal,”I want to see it today as it should be. America, the land of the free Where Liberty and Justice for ALL is a actually a way of life, not just words said during the Pledge of Allegiance.” Quote John C. Theil

    Some times having a hissy fit can change the laws.

  16. Hmm, when I took botany and plant taxonomy in college, we learned that plants have a wide range of sexual and non sexual ways of reproducing. Some are hermaphroditic, some produce from spores, some are “heterosexual” and some have no gender or sex at all. Will Garden Guy only do businees using only “heterosexual” plants?

  17. At the company where I work we are very accepting of other people’s lifestyles. Because there lifestyle seldom effects our bottom line.

    Here is some food for thought, I was refused service at a restaurant because I failed to see the need to wear a tie with my button front shirt under my sweater (both the shirt and sweater probably cost more than the average wage of the staff) I didn’t feel that I had under dressed. But they were polite and respectfull. I have had hotels (I will not say the chain’s name because this is their right as a business) upon learning that we are a landscape company politely tell me that they do not rent rooms to “outside contractors” because of the added cost in cleaning the rooms, halls etc. we can’t stay there. They were very polite and respectful. I do not have a problem with any of this, it doesn’t effect my bottom line.

    I do have a problem with any group of people who say that a business can not refuse service to anyone for any reason. I feel that it is the right of any business to refuse to do business if they choose.
    We turn down the opportunity to bid on projects all the time.

    Where the garden guy messed up is they were rude in the way they informed the client that they were not going to bid the project.

    A simple “We thank you for the opportunity to bid on your project, but due to scheduling restraints we are unable to at this time. Again we thank you for this opportunity.” would have prevented all the bad feelings that ultimately effect all of out businesses.

    Shame on them (Garden Guy), NOT for refusing the work but being rude to a client.
    Shame on them (Michael Lord and Gary Lackey) for not respecting the right of a business to turn down work, after all I am sure that the Garden guy is not the only landscaper in town and ultimately it is their bottom line.


    As reported in the article on “landscape online”
    Sabrina Farber told the Times in November that Garden Guy had picked up $40,000 in new business, while losing only two clients worth about $500 each.

    I DO DOUBT THE NET $40,000 WITH A LOSS OF ONLY $1000. Over the next 10 years (and we will be in business for at least 10 more years) my smallest (1) customer is worth more than $1000, unless God forbid they die.

    Thank you for your time reading my rant.

  18. “Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant, in this field as in all others. His culture is based on “I am not too sure.” -H.L. Menken.

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