Companies primarily engaged in performing a variety of shrub and tree services make up the ornamental shrub and tree services industry. Activities common to this industry include ornamental bush and tree planting, pruning, bracing, spraying, removal, and surgery. Tree trimming around utility lines also constitutes a significant share of industry revenues. Companies that perform lawn and garden installation and maintenance are described in SIC 0782: Lawn and Garden Services, and companies offering shrub and tree services for farm crops are included in SIC 0721: Crop Planting, Cultivating, and Protecting.
The ornamental shrub and tree industry consists mainly of small, family-owned businesses; most companies offer the service in addition to lawn care and maintenance. Working with shrubs and trees requires more education than merely working on lawns, since there are more plants and pests to know. Roughly a $40 billion industry, ornamental shrub and tree services attract many firms to the field. The failure rate is high, though, and many companies don't survive the first few years. Tree and ornamental design products and services were the fourth-largest segment of the lawn and garden industry in 2003, accounting for 7.1 percent of industry revenues.
Weather plays a big role in the industry. For example, along the mid-Atlantic area, hurricanes can actually be beneficial for shrub and tree firms, as the destruction opens an opportunity for re-landscaping. Strong housing starts are also advantageous for business.
With the booming U.S. economy of the late 1990s, landscaping services of all kinds were in high demand. Labor shortages plagued the industry, with a better-educated younger generation looking for white-collar opportunities. When the economy weakened in the early 2000s, the landscaping industry continued to thrive due to plunging interest rates, which reached their lowest point since the 1950s and bolstered real estate sales.
The biggest difference between lawn care and maintenance and ornamental shrub and tree services is education of employees. A company adding shrub and tree care to its business must invest at least six months into education. There are hundreds of shrub and tree types, not to mention pests and pest control. The...