More than mowing for local landscapers
Since 1997, Atlantic Lawn & Garden has been providing landscaping services to people in Jamestown and the surrounding towns. Now the business is expanding to include a retail operation that offers trees, shrubs and plants, as well as landscape supplies like mulch, compost, loam, gravel, crushed stone, cobblestones, flagstones and stepping stones.
Owner Nick DiGiando grew up in Jamestown. He attended the local schools and went to high school at Rocky Hill. He mowed lawns when he was growing up and decided to study landscape architecture at the University of Rhode Island. Following college, DiGiando earned an arborist license.
“It was a good way to make money when I was a kid,” he said. “I worked at the restaurant at the Bay Voyage for a number of years, but I wanted to work for myself. That gave me the encouragement to go back to doing landscape work.”
DiGiando started his business while he was still a junior in high school and continued working all through college. He rented the Narragansett Avenue location in 2000 and finally bought the property six years ago. Atlantic offers services like planting, garden maintenance, tree pruning, hedge training, and of course, lawn mowing. The company also does masonry, excavation and snow removal.
At this time of year, DiGiando and his crews are winding down the mowing season, while continuing to do a lot of planting. They are also working on some remaining patio projects while getting the leaf-raking and snow-removal operations geared up. The company also sells Christmas trees beginning on the day after Thanksgiving, so preparations are in the works for that as well.
DiGiando employs 30 to 35 workers at the height of the season. That number is reduced to 24 until Christmas, which is when a skeleton staff of about 10 people will run the business. On April 1, full staffing begins again.
“It depends what the weather does,” DiGiando said. “If we get a lot of snow, then we call guys on for snow plowing. If it’s a warm winter, I’ll have them doing patio and tree work. I’m trying to make it a year-round company. Every year I’ve been doing this, I’ve been trying to lay people off less.”
Atlantic has recently added a new 2,000-square-foot nursery on the property at 129 Narragansett Ave. DiGiando said that the nursery will stock a lot of the plants he uses regularly. If they’re not sold on site, they can be used on jobs. There are also plants that have caught his eye at other nurseries, both native and exotic.
“I’m stocking healthy-sized plants,” DiGiando said. “When I do jobs on big residences where people have money, they don’t want to wait for 10 years to see things grow out. I stock plants that are the size I use on job sites.”
Landscape and gardening supplies have also been added for those who like getting their hands in the soil. DiGiando said he hopes to further expand the retail offerings to include gardening tools and birdhouses.
“I’m trying to expand to becoming a more full-service garden center where do-it-yourselfers can come down and get what they want,” he said.
Atlantic also offers 3-D computer renderings that allow clients to see what a project is going to look like when it’s completed. The firm’s designers provide full-site design for decks, outdoor living spaces, patios and gardens.
The company’s work area stretches to include Portsmouth, Warwick, Narragansett and Wakefield. At the height of the season, there are generally eight Atlantic crews on the job. While the company is always looking for new work, people shouldn’t wait for a snowstorm to ask snow removal, he said. Atlantic has six trucks equipped for the job, but arrangements for seasonal service should be made in advance – just in case, he said.
“We’ll do our best to accommodate, but it’s much easier if people already have an agreement already in place,” DiGiando said. “That way we know the property and we’re not racing around in a blizzard.”