Q&A with David de Boer, owner of Gardening with Dave

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you end up in lawn and garden care business?
I was born and raised in landscaping. We had a family-run landscaping business, so I learned the value of responsibility and hard, honest work at a young age. I spent summer vacations from high school working with the landscaping crews at the family business. Twenty years ago, I started my first small landscape company in Ontario (before selling off and moving out of the country).

Ten years ago I set off on my next adventure and moved out west. At the time I was unmarried and had no children, so nothing was holding me back. I hired on as a landscape supervisor for a company based out of Clairmont, AB. During this time, I studied a herbicide course and obtained my chemical licence. I became more accustomed to the weather and growing season in northern Alberta.

The company I worked for decided to shift out of landscaping work and move into trucking, and I was offered an opportunity to get educated on safety administration. I then obtained my safety tickets and became a safety coordinator (which I remained until March 2019, when the company closed its doors for good).

When first making the transition from landscaping to logistics, a bunch of my clients had expressed that they were disappointed I was leaving, and asked whom I would recommend to take care of them in my place. So, I thought about it, discussed with my boss, and I made it happen it. Gardening with Dave was founded in March 2015. Since then, mostly using social media and word of mouth, I have built up a small customer base, mostly in Grande Prairie, and continued with my safety officer position until March 2019.

Tell us about the services you provide.
Gardening with Dave provides lawn and garden services for the area from Grande Prairie up to Rycroft and Spirit River. We are based in Rycroft. We offer spring cleanups and weekly lawn and garden maintenance services from May through September. Services may be ordered separately or as an all-inclusive package. We are flexible in putting together a service package that will work best for our clients. We provide weed pulling, mowing, line trimming, fertilising, hedge trimming, plant pruning, plant removal, litter cleanup and more.

How are you differentiating yourself from competition?
Other than sheer quality, maybe one of the things that separate Gardening with Dave from the competition is our positive, neighbourly attitude. I think having a sense of community is very important in small towns and villages like Rycroft and Spirit River (and others). I am pleasant enough to deal with as well as experienced and professional enough. I genuinely love what I do.

Every single property I take care of is my calling card. Word of mouth is huge, and I really appreciate all the compliments and recommendations Gardening with Dave has been receiving over Facebook and other outlets.
My pricing is fair, and my workmanship is undeniable. My end-product is first-rate. I am flexible and all about making things work out best for everyone. I am a big supporter of our tighter-knit neighbourhoods. I’m proud to be a part of our community.

With the arrival of spring, what is your best advice for people who may be planning for their spring plantings?
With spring well on the way, and most of the snow and ice already melted, people may be getting excited about their lawn and gardens for the season. I know I am. When the rest of the snow and ice are melted, I know I will be power raking my personal lawn – getting rid of the winter kill and pet mess (we have three dogs), seeding and fertilising.

Owing to our northern weather, I generally do not recommend planting too many leafy or flowering plants until after the May long weekend (Victoria Day). Get the most of your pruning done sooner than later.

What are some of the challenges you encounter on a day-to-day basis and how are you dealing with the challenges?
The biggest challenge my small business seems to face is finances. But going into my fourth year of work – and this is my first season where there is no going back to my safety position in the fall – this is just another hurdle that most people running a small, seasonal business need to face. Every year my customer base grows a little, helping with the financial aspects. I will be looking for work outside of my business for the winter. However, a longer-term goal for Gardening with Dave is to invest in some equipment in order to provide snow-removal services for our communities in Rycroft and Spirit River.