Like the construction industry, landscaping has long been a man’s world. According to the 2015 Landscaper Census, just 11% of the industry workforce is female. That reality may be starting to change.

Landscape designer working with auto cad software.

Labor shortage spells opportunity

Across the country, finding quality labor is a top concern in the landscaping industry. In response, some companies are asking how they can better market themselves to one half of the labor force: women.

Our challenge as an industry is to create a positive work environment for everyone while reaching out to those who may never have considered joining the landscaping profession.

Southview Design has a number of women in the field and in the office, in roles ranging from Landscape Architect to crew member to Director of Marketing and Business Development. We make sure to nurture budding talent through internships and scholarship programs to give new folks a leg up in the industry.

Man and woman working outside planting flower in large flower pots.

How do women find their way into the field?

Many make the jump from recreational gardening to becoming professionals in the field. Others enter into the business side of things after working for years in other fields. And some knew all along that working outside was their destiny as they pursued their education in horticulture or landscape architecture.

Woman wearing Southview Design gear, hat, and glasses in the Southview garage.

When Arianne Sjodahl first started college in Bemidji, her major was wildlife biology. She loves animals but she loves the outdoors more and decided to find a job that would allow her to spend as much time in the fresh air as possible. Arianne is one of Southview’s more recent hires. She is currently an Enhancement Supervisor-in-training and manages her own crew. They complete several smaller landscape projects every day, such as sod replacement, mulching, or creating and planting seasonal displays. Her greatest satisfaction at the end of the day is seeing the transformation in a landscape after she and her crew finish a landscape upgrade.

Woman wearing a construction vest.

Maria Ortega has only been with Southview Design since 2015 but has been in the landscape industry nearly 10 years. She works in Enhancements on residential and commercial projects creating seasonal displays, planting fresh color at a client’s home or at the entry of a commercial property. It’s the beauty in the transformation Maria enjoys and why she continues to work in the industry. Maria has no formal training in the landscape industry. Everything she knows has been learned on the job.

Woman wearing a Southview Design t-shirt and black baseball cap.

When Araceli Aguilar first arrived in the United States 19 years ago, she had a job on a walking route as a mailperson with the United States Postal Service. She didn’t mind all that walking. Like so many others in the landscape industry, she loves being outdoors. This is Araceli’s third season in Landscape Care at Southview Design. In her first season, she was a porter, working by herself, going from shopping center to shopping center. Now she works with a maintenance crew taking care of flowers and weeding. You might say she was destined to work at Southview Design because her cousin’s husband also works in Landscape Care.

Southview Design intern in the heavy equipment garage.

Chantel Dowell is a student from University of Wisconsin-River Falls, studying environmental planning and conservation. As an intern for Southview Design, she spent some time in the field. It was her first time in construction/installation. It turned out to be a positive experience. A little nervous at first, she quickly fit in with the crew, not only learning important construction details but a little Spanish along the way. The field work was intense, landscape care less so.

One perk with construction and maintenance: Chantel noticed she was getting stronger and more in shape. Her advice to other interns or employees going into the field “Hours are long so start slow and pay attention. The more comfortable you become with the tasks at hand, the more responsibility you’ll have.” When asked, if given a choice what field work she would prefer, she replied, “Landscape care. It’s less intense and I can work with plants.”

Two women in front of a red carpet backdrop.

In any industry there are always trailblazers who break the door open for others. It’s up to us to keep that door propped open for those who wish to follow.

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