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Some landscapers fear losing work in drought

  • Irrigation technician Dustin Martin of North Bay Landscape Management adjusts the pattern on a sprinkler head as he conducts diagnostics on a irrigation system to prevent wasting water at client's estate in Petaluma on Jan. 30, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / Press Democrat)

As a landscaper, Kate Anchordoguy acknowledges the drought is giving her “a real moral dilemma.”

On the one hand, the owner of Kate Anchordoguy Landscaping in Santa Rosa wants to provide work for her three employees and herself. On the other hand, she believes that 2014 may become the year for customers to leave one key element out of their landscaping projects: The plants.

“I think it's better than wasting water this year on establishing new plantings,” she said.

Landscaping And Drought

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Like agriculture, the landscaping industry has suffered in past droughts when residents and businesses cut back on installing new plants and on maintaining lawns and gardens.

Landscape contractors in Sonoma County differ markedly on the outlook for 2014, a year where state and local officials already are calling for a 20 percent cut in water consumption.

“If we don't get rain, it's really going to affect our business,” said Jeff Pottorff, owner of North Bay Landscape Management in Petaluma.

Pottorff already has met with city officials in the East Bay and heard them say that without more rain they will dramatically cut back on the water they apply to the public landscapes that his 70-worker company maintains.

However, other landscapers believe their businesses will adapt and stay busy even through another dry year. They can do so by installing drought-tolerant plants and by working to help keep existing landscapes alive.

“I don't think I'll lose any business,” said Linda Gottuso-Guay, who with her husband James owns Manzanita Landscape Construction in Santa Rosa. “I think people will call me to help.”

Part of that help, landscapers said, may be to consider which plants to water and which to let die.

On the North Coast, the last 13 months have been the driest in 83 years of record keeping.

The next two months are considered the best hope for significant rainfall before summer. Santa Rosa on average receives nearly 90 percent of its rain between October and March.

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