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Landscapers are in great demand this year as many plan to stay close to their home

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Laura Severs VisionScapes' oasis on the Bluff in Red Deer has space to practice. VisionScapes’ oasis on the Bluff in Red Deer has space to practice. Photo by Jamen Rhodes /.Postmedia

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The Albertans do not hedge their bets during the pandemic.

Put simply, they want better outdoor spaces. Backyards that may have faded into the background when doing home improvement are now in the foreground.

That said, landscapers are busier than ever. There is a demand for vegetable gardens, fruit trees, outdoor kitchens, outdoor pizza ovens, putting greens and high-end jobs: multi-purpose sports fields for basketball, volleyball or tennis.

“It is almost impossible to find a landscaper this year, or it seems to be – people who are really good are really in demand and already booked for the whole of 2021,” said Joel Beatson, CEO of Landscape Alberta , a non-landscaper profit organization to support and represent the landscaping industry in the province. “A lot of it is just everyone staying near their home if you will, nesting and creating these outdoor living spaces, whether it’s just a small renovation or a big, big dollar investment.”

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The boom dates back to last year when Alberta emerged from the first COVID-19 lockdown, Beatson said, noting that the industry is most likely to compete against other luxury items like travel.

“When there is no travel, we tend to see a boom in the people who are spending on their homes,” Beatson said. “The last time I can really remember it was 2001, save for a few cases. There was a big landscape boom after 9/11 when people stopped traveling and spent money on their outdoor spaces.”

Deliveries tight

Karl Jesske is a very busy man. A very busy man.

The day before an interview with this St. Albert-based landscaper, his phone message said they would be booking landscaping jobs for August and September. The next day this news was out of date. You are now looking to 2022.

Jesske, the owner of Modern Earth Landscaping, estimates he received 30 to 40 percent more requests than he can handle, and he and his crew are already working six days a week.

He is not alone in it. He said a colleague who makes decorative concrete boundaries – permanent edging that adds to a front or back yard – receives 30 to 40 calls a day.

Given the COVID-19 reality, which means people are likely to be spending time at home for the foreseeable future, especially when a slew of countries are closed to travel outside of the country, Jesske isn’t surprised that the demand and interest in landscaping projects have increased.

Working on a combination of new builds and renovations of existing exteriors, Jesske said it was becoming increasingly difficult to get supplies.

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“It’s getting harder and harder to get things. It’s all, “said Jesske.” The US is buying up a lot of Canadian stocks, which makes it difficult to secure anything. They buy in bulk and they also pay in US dollars so it’s difficult for the kindergartens or the wholesalers say no because they get 30 percent more with the exchange rate. “

Lawn and order

The plan was to build a resort-like space in their back yard. But things didn’t go as planned for Derek MacMillan.

It looks like this year will be the first at his St. Albert home that he’ll have the back yard he envisioned. Previous attempts have failed for a variety of reasons.

“Hopefully we’re almost done at last,” said MacMillan, who recently hired Modern Earth to help bring the dream to life.

“It’s a pretty cool project, it’s extremely customizable,” said Jesske, noting that it’s 75 percent complete.

The back and side courtyards of MacMillan’s house will be remodeled to have a large deck that will turn into a three-season space when screened, and there will be a separate seating area with a fire pit next to a modular shipping container pool with a window insert.

The side courtyard will be laid out in artificial turf to keep outdoor maintenance to a minimum.

While MacMillan would have liked to have seen this years ago, ironically, it was the pandemic that pushed it forward.

“The pandemic would have contributed to our lack of a garden for 10 years and being home every day now,” MacMillan said, adding that they changed their original design by adding the pool. “So the pandemic was the reason we got going.”

Until it’s done, MacMillan, who calls the project a showcase, is confident that COVID restrictions will be lifted so friends and neighbors can enjoy it too.

Weather delay OK

“We had a pretty late spring across Alberta last year,” said Joel Beatson, CEO of Landscape Alberta. “That was a good thing. We have never been so happy to see April 20th and the snow still on the ground. “This enabled the association to properly prepare and train its members in dealing with COVID-19.

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