Landscapers and Wholesale Garden Supply Facilities Hit Hard by Unpredictable March Weather

Friday, March 31, 2017

When It Comes to Sales, The Garden Dept. Says This Was the Worst March On Record

For wholesale landscaping distribution centers like The Garden Dept., the unpredictable weather that blasted the area this month has affected sales at a higher-than-expected rate. Despite starting out with temperatures near 60 degrees — and then hitting similar temps on five separate occasions — the weather for March 2017 was colder and wetter than average, causing most landscapers to delay Spring clean-up jobs for longer than expected.
At The Garden Dept., a full-service nursery and horticultural distribution center which serves landscapers from its Coram and Dix Hills locations, sales this month were down nearly 60 percent as compared to March 2016. “Since the economy is strong, we were hoping to compete this year with March 2016, which had several six- and seven-figure projects, but 2017 ended up being one of the worst Marches that I can remember,” says Don Caroleo, Owner of The Garden Dept. “Our overall proposals and pending orders are up, but we have no ship dates, which is halting our overall sales figures. This is all strictly due to the harsh weather we have been experiencing. But, despite the rain that is expected to dominate the current extended forecast, I am confident that things will turn around quickly.”
The Garden Dept. is usually busy throughout the month of March serving landscapers who are hard at work providing clients with Spring clean-up, trimming trees and planting gardens, but these jobs are currently on hold. According to Mr. Caroleo, landscapers have had to wait for warmer temperatures, which allow the ground to thaw for lawn and flower bed maintenance, among other tasks.
“We definitely saw a decrease in the work we do throughout the month of March,” adds Tom Humphreys, Operations Manager for The Laurel Group, a Garden Dept. customer. “What’s nice, though, is that the work doesn’t go away, it just gets moved later, which will make for a busy April. Spring might be late this year, but Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July don’t change and we have to meet client schedules. We don’t want to miss any deadlines, so we will adjust our manpower and equipment accordingly.”
In addition to the lasting effects of the turbulent March weather, Mr. Caroleo says that the 2007 restrictions that were placed on yard fertilization also negatively impacts March business during unseasonably cold times. It was at that time that Suffolk County implemented the “Healthy Lawns, Clean Water” law, which is aimed at reducing nitrogen released into ground and surface water by eliminating the use of fertilizer on County property and by limiting the use of fertilizers for residential yards. The law was set in place by Suffolk County after it was discovered that a large number of public and private supply wells were above the 10mg/L Maximum Contaminant Level set for nitrates, to ensure safe drinking water.
“In past years, even if March was especially cold, we could rely on the landscapers coming in to purchase fertilizer and supplies for Spring lawn programs, which helped our bottom line,” he explains. “And, though we haven’t been able to depend on those sales for the past decade, we’ve also not had to contend with extremely poor March weather over that same time period.”
The Garden Dept.’s 16-acre Coram location and eight-acre Dix Hills location are currently open Monday to Saturday, with Sunday hours available in Coram pending weather. The company also provides delivery to homes and job sites for items such as trees, shrubs, plants and decorative stone, as well as gravel, compost, top soil and mulch by the yard. For assistance with your landscape or gardening needs, contact The Garden Dept. at 631-736-DEPT (3378) or visit online at: