“Overall, it’s been better,” said Zac Bradford, who owns Augusta Grass Masters. “Last year, we were just always in a bind trying to get things going, beating the weather. A lot of people are using irrigation this year that haven’t before. Business all the way around this year, with the (winter) storms and all that, has been better this year than it ever has been.”
Bradford estimates his profits are up between 30 to 40 percent compared to last summer, which saw a record high rainfall amount of 10.78 inches in the month of June alone. Lingering rain through the months of July and August led to Augusta’s third wettest summer in history.
Bradford has been in the lawn maintenance business for nearly nine years. He said last year’s downpours left the ground so soggy that even on days without rain, his crews were unable to work.
“We lost a lot of money with customers wanting refunds and stuff like that,” Bradford said. “We always got the work done. It was just scheduling was the biggest problem.”
Other lawn companies reported that the wet weather last summer caused work to back up and forced them to hire more employees to make up for lost days.
“It has been drier, which makes it a lot easier to mow,” said Andrew Santa, who owns A Cut Above Lawn Service. “The grass isn’t growing as quickly. It’s not as wet so the mowers do it more efficiently and create less debris that we have to pick up.”
Santa has about 200 customers across the metro area. During the summer months of 2013, Santa said his workers had to spend an extra 15 to 20 percent time to complete a yard.
Santa said his business rebounded earlier this year from cleanup efforts after February’s ice storm.
“Last year, I was keeping track of the payroll compared to the previous year,” Santa said. “The amount of work with the storm in February kept us really, really busy, and we haven’t slowed down since.”
This year, meteorologists are deeming the summer months to this point the third-driest since 1871. Less than half an inch of rain has fallen in the last 30 days, putting metro Augusta’s summer rainfall deficit at 4 inches below normal.
Less than half an inch of rain is in the forecast through Wednesday.
Kevin Garner, who owns Magnolia Grounds Service, said without the persistent rains of last summer, he’s been able to again maintain a daily average of 10 to 12 lawns. Though, a little rainfall wouldn’t hurt, he said.
“We could use just a little bit more rain especially with the people that don’t have any irrigations systems,” Garner said. “That’s the big thing. Rain really helps them out a lot since they have no way to get water on their lawns and shrubbery.”
Bradford said he has friends in the business who are struggling to keep lawns green with the drier weather. Still, Bradford would prefer to work in an arid climate over a sodden one.
“I’d rather have a summer that’s dry than a summer that’s wet,” Bradford said. “I can add water, but I just can’t work in the rain.”