Landscaping businesses awaiting approval to return to work amid stay-at-home order

A ride-on mower sits empty as landscaping businesses wait for approval to return to work amid the stay-at-home order.

Landscapers are among some Minnesotans fighting to get back to work. They say they are essential and can stay busy and safe with most of their clients staying at home.

Matt Doehling of Doehling Landscapes says his phone is ringing off the hook with clients looking to line up appointments to start services at their homes, but Governor Tim Walz's executive stay-at-home order bans them from operating right now.

“It does seem for an odd reason we were singled out and I can’t speak to exactly why that was, but it does feel a little unfair for sure,” said Doehling.

Landscaping companies say this is prime-time season for them to start outdoor spring cleanup projects and get ready for the busy summer. Many companies believe they can follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing better than most industries.

“We believe we can do our jobs safely—guys on mowers, guy on backpack blowers—we’re often 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 feet apart and we’ve put together procedures here in our office on how crews are going to start staggered times—we’ll have one individual per truck,” said Doehling.

In the northwest metro, Emery Skoog of Northern Roots Fertilizer is maintaining his equipment as he waits for the green light to start heading out to homes.

“It’s pretty much 'go time' real soon, if not now,” said Skoog. “I’m sitting on about $7,000 worth of fertilizer material just waiting to go out.”

He's doing whatever he can to keep his employees on his payroll, even if that means dipping into his savings, but many companies in the industry can't wait a few more weeks.

"I think two more weeks would be catastrophic for a lot of companies,” said Skoog. “Again, a lot of people are keeping their full-time employees on. We have a lot of seasonal workers that are ready to go, they just can't start right now."