Hardscaping Is a Tough Business, But It’s One of the Greatest

Hardscaping Is a Tough Business, But It’s One of the Greatest

The bad days are few and far between, but they do happen in this business. When the heat is on at the height of summer, when equipment fails, a crew member calls in sick, or a delivery is late—particularly when those things happen all at once—that’s right about the time you forget about why you went into hardscaping. It’s those times you forget about the wonderfulness of working outdoors, of having your own crew, and of all the effort that went into building up your expertise and skills. You forget how many people never even get the chance to make a living creating things, or to run the whole show, or to see their name on a business they built from the ground up.

Hardscaping is not the easiest of businesses. It’s physically demanding, the seasonal ups and downs can wreak havoc on cash flow, and burnout can easily spread. You could have opted for life in an office chair, or taken an easier career route that wouldn’t have come close to delivering the type of job satisfaction you do get most days of the year. This serves as a refresher, a reminder of things to consider when you feel stuck in the weeds, behind schedule, or over budget. It’s a nudge about something you knew when you got into this business. It’s about how the most difficult challenges for any craftsman tends to be the most rewarding.

Tradeoffs and Risks

You don’t start a contracting business if your top aspiration is a cushy paycheck. And if you did, well, it will quickly dawn on you that you’ve made a huge mistake. Hardscaping can be rewarding, but cushy it’s not. A 2018 survey published in USA Today found that working on construction sites in general is the 13th most dangerous job in America. Handling heavy equipment and power tools every day comes with the risk of injuries, mostly to the hands and back. That’s only slightly more dangerous than number 14, being a law enforcement officer.

Even so, dangerous and physical are related, but they’re separate things, and it’s all relative. Next to putting out oil-well fires, coal mining, or sky-diving into a war zone, hardscaping may not so seem grueling, does it? But when you put it up against the majority of business, it’s about as physical as a business gets.

A Businesses Like No Other

You’re doing this for a reason — to do the kind of work you’re passionate about, to be your own boss, to perhaps leave a legacy for your children, or maybe a dozen other ambitions and motives that we can’t generalize here. What we can specify is the many reasons this is one of the greatest businesses to get into—to affirm the decisions that got you to this point.

• It’s a challenge: A clock-watching, 9-to-5 career can’t compare to yours. You’re up against competing schedules, self-imposed yet tough revenue goals, staffing needs, tricky client demands, and (it’s always about this) unpredictable weather conditions. When the business is able to push through the issues, the thrill of success is all yours.

• It’s never the same. Every client’s personality and style is different, and every landscape is different. Every job has its unique challenges and requirements. Client preferences, materials, hardscaping trends are always changing, keeping the work interesting and the business on its own toes.

• It has satisfaction build in to every job: Perhaps in the middle of a tough project, a sense of satisfaction can weaken, but there’s always an end — there’s always that moment when you get to reveal the finished patio or completed outdoor living space. Other professions don’t have the same level of satisfaction. A software engineer may make a killer app but it’s created for the masses, and the payoff can be fleeting. In hardscaping, you create something unique, tangible, and lasting, for one particular family and home.

Remembering the Greatness

Hardscaping is a unique and challenging way to make your mark in the world. For those in the business of creating things, there’s an intense satisfaction from seeing a project to completion. It’s addictive in its own right. It’s an experience most people can only access by turning to a hobby. And they only get a chance to spend time with their hobby after work.

What you do is create and problem solve. You steer clients toward solutions that you know will make them happy. Hardscaping eases the frustration of homeowners who lament that their family doesn’t spend enough time outside, who want to add more value to their property, or who wish their sloped landscape could be turned into something more practical. When all the designing, excavating, and constructing is done, and the final sweep is complete, the appreciation happens, and you remember why you’re in the business.

Unilock works directly with contractors to help build their knowledge and their business. The hardscaping industry is constantly improving. Innovations in materials, equipment, processes, and design help you build ever more visually stunning and lasting projects that make your work stand out from the crowd, and remind you why you got into this whole business in the first place.