For Them, Landscaping is Truly a Labor of Love
Both took risks when they started their respective businesses — Dooley with Dooley Landscape Designs, and LaBry with The Garden Nanny — and managed to cultivate each company from the ground up. They became certified professionals in working with the land and plants of the Southwest. And now both businesses have teamed up not only to build your dream landscape, but also help you keep it maintained and flourishing for years to come.
As owner of Dooley Landscape Designs — a full-service landscape design/build company — Dooley boasts 33 years in the business, award-winning designs, and more than 3,000 installations throughout Texas and New Mexico. In 2013, he received the coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, putting him in the top 5 percent of landscape contractors on the consumer review website, and he also holds an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau.
That impressive résumé is a far cry from Dooley’s first day of business on April Fools’ Day in 1981. Using his last commission check and an old pickup truck, Dooley’s flat-out gumption pushed him to start and operate retail nurseries, earn his “Master Certified Nurseryman” designation, and write his first book, “Residential Landscape Design for the Horticulturally Hopeless.”
Then along came LaBry, who had worked in a variety of professions, from flight attendant to managing her own horse farm to fitness instructor. But when her son went off to college, she began to feel discouraged. “I was just starting to have this sense that life was passing me by,” she says.
LaBry met Dooley through an online dating website in 2010, and it didn’t take long before their relationship began to blossom. Sensing her frustration, Dooley suggested she go into business for herself, doing small landscaping jobs and maintenance projects. “I told Mike that kind of work sounded great,” she says. “I was ready.”
Since 2012, LaBry has owned and operated The Garden Nanny, which specializes in pruning of small trees, shrubs, hedges and roses; seasonal and one-time yard cleanup; fertilization; mulching and graveling; and planting/design in planter beds, courtyards, small yards; and spectacular potted plants for those who need an extra splash of color in their yards.
LaBry is now a licensed and insured state landscape contractor. She has become well-informed about the challenges of growing in our high desert climate through New Mexico State University/Bernalillo County master gardener program.
LaBry also received training from the Colorado Nurserymen’s Association, which has chapters in New Mexico to help elevate and strengthen independent nursery and greenhouse businesses in our state.
Using LaBry’s small, handpicked team, The Garden Nanny can take care of the tasks that homeowners, for any number of reasons, aren’t able to manage. “I have wonderful clients,” she says. “Some are seniors who are on a fixed income and can’t take care of their yards the way they used to. Some of them just require a jump-start to get ready for the upcoming season. And some of them just get overwhelmed with their yards. My job is to make it more manageable for them all.”
The Garden Nanny can work with customers on a contract or no-contract basis, ensuring a comprehensive yet budget-friendly experience, says LaBry. “We keep it real,” she explains. “We work hard and make it fair for our customers, yet fair for us too.”
LaBry is currently booking appointments for spring pruning of roses. “In our high desert climate, mid-March to mid-April is the ideal time of the year for pruning if you want to see a bounty of roses in the summer,” she says.
During a one-on-one consultation, LaBry will listen to each customer’s needs and ideas, and then suggest common-sense solutions.
If the job is beyond LaBry’s scope, she’ll work with Dooley and their co-op of local colleagues who specialize in hardscapes, water features, irrigation, xeriscaping and other jobs. “Mike and I have found wonderful local businesses owners in our field that have earned our trust and have a stellar reputation,” she says.
When they’re not out transforming New Mexico’s landscapes, you’ll find Mike and Leslie scouring the desert for fossils and minerals, camping and fly-fishing along the state’s waterways, or starting a new line of sterling silver jewelry utilizing the treasures they find on their travels.
“The decision to go into the landscape maintenance business was scary. I was giving up a secure job, a good retirement plan to take that leap,” says LaBry. “But Mike assured me that he would never let me fail.” Then, with her voice breaking as she glances at Mike, smiling, she adds: “This type of work has truly been life-changing. I love what I do and I love who I do it with.”
For more information about either Dooley Landscape Design or The Garden Nanny, call 400-0257 or check out www.dooleylandscapedesign.com.
Dooley Landscape Designs