Grass is greener for Lemon Grove gardener

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Like so many other San Diegans, Ernie Sanchez found himself without a job after being laid off about a year ago due to the economy. But he quickly found other work as a helper to a gardener. His sharp eye and attention to detail eventually landed him his own landscaping business.

Like so many other San Diegans, Ernie Sanchez found himself without a job after being laid off about a year ago due to the economy. But he quickly found other work as a helper to a gardener. His sharp eye and attention to detail eventually landed him his own landscaping business.

This Lemon Grove resident is now proprietor of Ernie Sanchez and Sons Landscaping. Several people rely on him weekly or bi-monthly to make their grass greener and their plants healthier. Working with plants and flowers is not that big a stretch for Sanchez, who used to work for EasyTurf.
“At first, I was very upset when I no longer had my career because I thought EasyTurf was the company I would retire with,” he said.

A careful consideration of his own talents and skills helped Sanchez to decide to go into business for himself.
“Landscaping was something that I was already familiar with,” he said.
Growing up in the Lomita neighborhood of San Diego, Sanchez always appreciated and enjoyed the diversity of plants. When he married and moved to El Cajon, then Lemon Grove, he gardened in his own yard on the weekends. With his four sons, he still works his own lawn and plants flowers and shrubs.

When he was 45 years old, Sanchez went to work for EasyTurf, starting off as an installer and then promoted to field supervisor. But after being laid off after ten years working at the company, Sanchez did not waste any time. He did occasional work for other gardeners, but he found that somewhat frustrating.
“I would notice the things that the gardener would leave undone or unfinished,” Sanchez said.

So it was a natural step for Sanchez to put his green thumb to work. He said that he enjoys being able to work for his own clients and doing so at his own pace, which allows him to be better at his job.
“I went from working with the fake stuff to real grass,” Sanchez said. “I actually enjoy it a lot more. I find it to be very surprising to bring plants that are dying back to life.”

That skill alone is what keeps San Carlos resident Carol Swartz happy. Swartz has been a client of Sanchez for the last six months.
“He is more than what you call a mow ‘n go. It doesn’t bother him to weed by hand, which is unheard of. He cares about the job,” Swartz said.

While Sanchez said he misses the crew at EasyTurf, he is glad that he does not have to report his every move to someone, but said in many ways, with all of his new clients, he now has several supervisors to please.
One of the first steps he took to start up Ernie and Sons Landscaping was to sell his motorcycle. From the money earned by the sale, he bought a truck, trailer and tools.

Sanchez said the opportunity work side by side with his sons is an added benefit. Since they all have other day jobs, they take turns working with him. His son David, 28, works at the shipyards painting ships and inspecting paint.

David Sanchez said he is proud of his father.
“I like working with my dad. Making the people’s yards and lawns look nice is harder than it seems. There’s a lot of technique involved,” he said.

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