That is a lot of economic activity and a lot of jobs. If you love
facts and figures or just like to get your eyeballs spinning, the
amount of data to be found in this study is astounding. But those
probably weren’t your first thoughts, were they?
Okay, for a more revealing look at what some homeowners and landscape professionals really think about lawn care services, this thread
at GardenWeb is worth reading. It followed an inquiry as to the
availability of a computer program that could generate a
garden-specific weekly list of chores a homeowner could leave for her
mow-and-blow crew. It seems she was not satisfied with the results of
the less-than-knowledgeable, low-wage, interchangeable crew. Many
people pointed out that the amount of data that would need to go into
such a software program for a living system – a garden – is so huge
that it wouldn’t be economically feasible from a computer programmer’s
standpoint, much less produce an accurate list of site- and
time-specific gardening chores.
So what’s the average wage earned by these people who are tasked
with the health and upkeep of these living, interactive biological
systems? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s $10.74 per hour, compared to $21.56 per hour for plumbers, who connect inanimate pipes together. While you can get any number of university bachelor
and masters degrees in horticulture, I’ve never heard of a college
degree in plumbing. (Engineering may come the closest.)
Money says everything about how much value we place on things in our
culture. The mow-and-blow guy, whose customers expect him to possess
extensive knowledge in several scientific disciplines, isn’t paid
commensurate with that level of knowledge. Even degreed and licensed
landscape professionals suffer from the same low-wage cultural mindset
and are doing what they can to improve the image of the profession, educate their members and the public, as well.
With the large number of colleges graduating horticulture
professionals these days, there’s a good chance that the cause of that
offensive noise you’re hearing is a leafblower operated by a degreed
and licensed professional or someone who’s employed by one and who’s
receiving training in basic standards of care. And like it or not,
mowing lawns is a big part of landscape maintenance and an important
source of income for many landscape professionals.
I, for one, will not look down my nose at another landscape maintenance
worker because I have a college education and he doesn’t. I may roll
my eyes when I spot work of poor quality but ultimately it’s the
homeowners who have the final responsibility about who they hire to
work on their property. You can’t judge landscape maintenance
professionals by the trucks they pull up in, the mowers they walk
behind or the blowers that piss you off. Rather, how about judging
them by the quality of their work and the pride they take in it, or by
their dependability and willingness – often eagerness – to work hard?
To label an entire industry with the derogatory Mow-and-Blow is just
I know you passionate gardening types are a tough crowd, how about some respect where respect is due?