The Sky’s the Limit

Young people going into business often dream of making it big one day. Dreams are drivers, but few entrepreneurs have the drive that Garrett Faulkner had when he launched Down to Earth Landscaping right out of high school. Now, four years later, the 21-year-old owner says he would like to be one of the biggest landscape contracting companies in the country.“You’ve heard of ValleyCrest and Brickman?” he asks. “I would like to be that big one day.” Garrett pauses a few beats before retracting the statement. “Well, that may be a little aggressive, but I wouldn’t mind having a few branch locations and spreading out into adjoining states.”

Garrett’s company, located in Columbus, Georgia, already does landscaping jobs in Atlanta through his brother Gregory’s satellite operation, and has just landed a big landscaping contract in Alabama. “I love lawn maintenance, but our concentration now is primarily landscaping,” says Garrett. “If it’s outside, we will do it.”

Drumming Up Business

The young entrepreneur started mowing lawns long before he had a driver’s license. “I was probably 11 or 12 at the time and wanted a drum set,” Garrett recalls. “So I hung a photo of the set above my bed and went to sleep thinking about the day when I could afford it.”

He would mow neighborhood lawns by pulling a trailer and mower behind a four-wheeler. At 16, he took a summer job at a nearby Kubota dealership assembling equipment. Throughout high school, Garrett says he didn’t have many close friends. While they were out and about having a good time, he was more interested in mowing and making money.

“After graduating, I wanted to mow two yards a day and do some landscaping,” he explains. “But two turned into four relatively quickly. When I landed a few homes in a subdivision where picking up clippings was necessary, my mower just couldn’t cut it.”

Garrett was 17 at the time and evidently already a seasoned salesperson. He talked his father into co-signing a note for a new 23-hp Walker Mower equipped with a 42-inch GHS deck. “The price of the Walker Mower scared me at the time,” he relates, “but I especially liked the way it striped naturally and collected clippings.”


Atlanta Connection

Garrett’s brother, Gregory, had been in the landscaping and swimming pool installation business before the economy ground new work to a halt. Two years ago, Gregory was working in Atlanta for Comcast when he received a call from his brother. Garrett had been talking to a property manager about a dozen properties in Columbus and Atlanta. He asked Gregory if he would be interested in the Atlanta work. He was, and the young company had its first satellite location.

To get his brother up and running, Garret sent his original Walker Mower north to Atlanta and purchased a new 26-hp EFI, again equipped with a 42-inch GHS deck. Today, the brothers mow nearly 80 lawns a week, along with providing a myriad of other landscaping services including installing and repairing irrigation systems, laying sod, and constructing retaining walls and outdoor kitchens.


Garrett smiles when he says “mowing pays the bills while landscaping jobs buy the steaks.” Gregory agrees, although noting quickly that maintenance can be a bread winner, too, depending on the housing market.

“Landscaping is picking up around Atlanta and we have potential in other areas,” Gregory says. “But we’re still going aggressively after mowing accounts. In fact, I’m in the market for another Walker Mower this year. Once homeowners see how it stripes and how it doesn’t scalp the turf, they would have nothing else on their lawns.”

For wide-area mowing, Garrett employs two Exmark mowers while Gregory operates a Bush Hog. Stihl is their preferred hand-held line, and both talk up box trucks and minimize the use of trailers. “It can be scary having a crew driving around with a truck and trailer,” adds Gregory.

Added Incentive

The brothers are economically motivated. They understand what it takes to make a buck and make a profit. Garrett also credits his father for giving him a start in the business. “In addition to co-signing a couple of early notes, Dad always liked operating equipment and doing odd jobs around our property. Originally, I thought I might want to go to school and become a banker, but he encouraged me to follow my instincts and go into landscaping.”

Garrett and Gregory have even more incentive today to grow the business. Gregory and his wife, Erin, have a year-old daughter, Addyson, while Garrett recently returned from a Florida honeymoon with his new bride, Ashley.

“The possibilities are endless,” says Garrett. “We’re spread out pretty far now, doing good work and making good money.”

The drum set, once a passing fancy of Garrett’s, has been replaced in real life by a boat, fifth-wheel trailer and motorcycle, among other toys—all of it earned by living a dream.

“I love to make money,” Garrett admits, “but I also love to work, mow lawns and install landscaping projects. If you do good work, the money will come.”

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