Turn to the Pros to Help Your Garden Grow

3 gardening services you can purchase from the pros

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Growing up, many of us "did for ourselves"—we walked the dog, mowed the lawn, fixed our bikes, and helped cook and clean. In fact, that work ethic of ours is probably part of what's helping us be successful today. However, as work keeps us busier and busier, we may not think twice about hiring others to help us with some of the chores we used to do for ourselves. Let's face it, it's nice to come home to a clean house, trimmed lawn, and dry-cleaned clothes without having to push the vacuum cleaner or lawn mower, or iron the shirts ourselves. It's no different with our home garden.

Sure, there are lots of ways to relax and enjoy yourself gardening, but if time is truly at a premium, then there's no reason why you can't turn to the experts for your home garden as well. In fact, there are a whole slew of gardening-related services you probably didn't realize you could contract out. You are only a phone call away from getting in on one of the biggest movements in the nation right now—gardening. You could be hosting a dinner party in your new garden this very weekend, without even having to clean dirt out from under your fingernails. (And yes, you can cater it.)

A local nursery, landscape company, garden center, or a company that runs an urban farm may be able to provide you with gardening expertise. Whether you want to bring a garden to your home, community, place of business or any other environment, it's tough to find the time to make these projects happen in today's 24/7 business marketplace. Why not put the experts to work for you?

The following are some of the services performed by the pros:

1. Garden design. Garden experts will be able to recommend the best location, design, and materials for your specific objectives and budget. Their expertise should help you reduce risk, maximize efficiencies, manage variables (like sun exposure and water availability throughout the seasons), and complete your project as soon as possible. At my company, for example, we conduct a site survey or, for bigger projects, lead design workshops that involve all stakeholders in helping to form the final design solution. Detailed budgets, timeframes, and visuals keep things on track.

2. Garden maintenance. Worried about what happens after your garden is installed and planted, and your "black thumb" is in charge of keeping it alive? This becomes even more of a problem if you travel frequently for business, or if your project is a high-visibility showcase where aesthetics count. That's where garden-maintenance services can be lifesavers—especially for your vulnerable plants! You might consider weekly, biweekly and monthly service options to tend to your garden—and even harvest your produce for you. For larger projects, such as farms, commercial landscapes, golf courses, athletic fields, and parks, a professional can help you determine organic land management strategies for improving yields and reducing chemicals.

3. Garden supplies. Once you establish a healthy, organic garden, the next challenge becomes accessing appropriate seeds, plants, and supplies to keep the goodness going. You can ask or call around to find out how others committed to organic growing in your area are meeting their needs. Many communities have small, independent shops that cater to this expanding segment of the gardening population. The big box stores carry a reasonable selection of offerings as well. Most gardeners committed to growing organically, however, do end up ordering online to get exactly what they need. In fact, you could order everything you need for your garden today, from site survey to supplies, right from the convenience of your computer. Now, how much easier can we make it?

"If I only had the time" no longer needs to be your answer for why you're not doing something you may have been planning to do for a while. Please patronize your favorite gardening business, and get your garden project off the ground (or, rather, on it).

Tap in next week and I'll share some tips for helping seeds grow—in your garden, and in life.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Daron Joffe is a 30-something eco-entrepreneur who lives to make a difference in the world one homegrown organic fruit and vegetable at a time. Known as "Farmer D," Joffe has grown food for celebrities, private communities, and elementary schools in his "town-by-town mission to re-energize the food culture." His products are sold at select Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma stores. Born in South Africa and based in Atlanta, Farmer D is online at www.FarmerD.com.