If this frigid Pittsburgh winter seems endless to most of us, we can imagine what it’s like for landscapers and garden maintenance people. After holiday decorating work, if your business doesn’t do snow removal, there’s not much to do but wait, wait, wait during these frozen weeks. When the thaw finally comes and the buds break, spring work barrels in like a runaway train. Seize this time to check out local resources for horticultural entrepreneurs and make good use of the down time to improve your business.
Phipps Conservatory offers continuing education classes taught by top quality experts in up to date sustainable practices relating to landscaping design and maintenance, turf management, arboriculture and more. Students earn certification from both Phipps and its partner, the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). Here are the current classes.
Speaking of Phipps, their cozy library is a great place to spend a frigid day, exploring the collection of books and periodicals on all subjects horticultural. Visit it at the Phipps Garden Center Building in Mellon Park, 1059 Shady Ave. in Shadyside. You never know how much you don’t know until you begin poking through a library!
Remember a pesky pest problem that troubled you last season, or an unfamiliar plant you couldn’t ID? Now is a good time to seek answers from the Allegheny County Extension Garden Hotline at 412-473-2600. Or, Phipps to the rescue again; call the Greenline at 412-665-2364,
If tree work hasn’t been part of your business repertoire in the past, maybe it’s time to branch out into a bit of light, small scale forestry. Tree Pittsburgh is an organization that fosters care of our vitally important urban forest by teaching Tree Tender volunteers to plant and maintain trees. They offer an eight hour course multiple times during the year at various neighborhood locations covering proper planting, pruning and maintenance and it’s taught by an ISA Certified arborist. The cost is $40. Breakfast and lunch is provided.
In case you’re ready to go to the next level in aboriculture, this year Tree Pittsburgh offered a professional four day short course hosted by Penn State Extension detailing tree biology, tree risk assessment, planting and more. The course is meant to prepare students for the ISA Certified Arborist exam, and although it’s currently underway for this season, keep this resource in mind as a possibility for next year. Dig around on their website to find their “Get Involved” section for some other great activities. You might be surprised at what’s available!
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy plants and maintains 135 gardens in public spaces all over our area and they rely on volunteers to tend them. Some of the top horticultural business are among those who donate their work and gain visibility and prestige by having a sign crediting their efforts on their assigned bed. If you’re looking for increased exposure for your company, these plantings are seen five million times a day! Of course this requires hours of labor during the busy season, but if you can manage the commitment, see the Community Gardens & Greenspace Sponsors section of their website.
The administrative nuts and bolts of running a business are not to be ignored and CCAC is an excellent resource for sharpening a wide range of skills. Review the Community Education catalog for spring 2015. It lists dozens of courses relevant to the horticultural entrepreneur. Topics include: project management, effective communication skills, electronic bookkeeping and Quickbooks, creating a business plan and much more.
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