Warm weather work

Oh, the difference a year can make.

“Last year in March we had over three weeks of temperatures in the 70s. We were sunbathing in March last year,” said Shawn Warner, owner of Warner’s Landscaping and Property Maintenance, Altoona.

This year, lingering winter-like weather has not been good for those in the landscaping business.

“We are definitely behind. Last year we were cutting grass on March 21, and now we are just starting with spring cleanup,” said Neil Gioiosa, owner of Gioiosa Landscaping, Altoona.

“Normally we do our spring cleanup from mid-March to mid-April. This has thrown us back about a month. We need to get the beds cleaned out and mulched. We are just very far behind,” said John Sinisi, president of J.J. Sinisi Landscape and Lawn Care, Altoona. “We won’t be able to plant anything until the beginning of May. We normally start in April.”

Travis Russell, partner in Roots in the Cove, Roaring Spring, said the weather affected his Easter plant business.

“Even in our greenhouse, our Easter flowers didn’t bloom like they usually do because of the lack of sunshine,” Russell said.

Byron Smail, owner of Byron Smail Landscape Contracting, Altoona, said last year’s unusually mild weather spoiled landscape contractors.

This year, things are taking longer to get started.

For example, the ground is drying out later than usual and that pushes back some of the mulching, said Jonathan Yon, owner of Lawns by Nature Inc., Duncansville.

“With the water table high, it will take a little longer for things to dry out. That will cause certain jobs to be delayed until it dries out,” said Rich Huber, owner of ProLawn Landscaping, Altoona. “We take heavy equipment into yards, and we won’t do it until it dries out so we won’t damage the yards.”

The late arrival of warm weather has an effect on when landscapers can begin planting.

Joe Beck, owner of Beck’s Maintenance and Landscaping Center, Duncansville, said his business is about four to five weeks behind on getting grass planted.

“Typically at this time we would be doing our installations. We can do hardscaping work. We hope to begin doing our installation work around mid-April,” Beck said.

Along with the delays in landscapers getting work under way, customers also have been delaying their decisions on what work they want to have done.

“Property owners haven’t made their decisions yet. They are still in winter mode,” Warner said. “People are not spending their money. That affects the economy. Less money is being spent.”

As for finding the silver lining, landscapers said the lingering winter weather did have some positive effects.

Warner said the insects aren’t out yet, and Smail noted that because there wasn’t a lot of snow accumulation, there was not as much damage to properties.

Once the weather warms up and stays warm, area landscapers expect to be very busy.

“Once it gets nice, people will recognize things in their lawn and landscape that they want done. We will work six days a week, 12 hours a day,” Huber said.

Yon agreed, noting that spring will be a hectic time.

“Typically we try to get a lot of the work done before Easter, but Easter was early this year. Now we will focus on getting landscaping done by Mother’s Day, but we still have the threat of frost,” Yon said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.