The Benefits and Challenges of Owning a Landscape Business with Your Spouse - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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The Benefits and Challenges of Owning a Landscape Business with Your Spouse

Kevin and Jillian Burns, co-owners of Burns Landscape & Snow Management

Many couples love the fact they can run a landscape company with their spouse. However, this work dynamic has its own set of challenges to be aware of.

“Working with your spouse within the landscape industry — or any business, for that matter — can be incredibly rewarding, but it also requires careful navigation to maintain a healthy balance between your professional and personal lives,” says Jillian Burns, vice president and co-owner of Burns Landscape & Snow Management, based in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

Find out what these couples like best and least about working with one another.

The Benefits

One benefit a lot of married owners enjoy is the ability to work towards a common goal. This is Ira Wade’s favorite thing about working with his wife, Deborah, co-owner of Wade’s Lawn Service, based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. He also likes being able to bounce ideas off her.

“I think the benefit of working with him is I love being with him,” Deborah says. “Some days, I’ll just jump in the truck and I’ll just go out on a property and be with him all day. We’re together all the time. He’s my very best friend so I love working with him.”

Carita Koen, owner of Green Magic Landscape LLC based in Mobile, Alabama, says she also enjoys getting to discuss and depend on one another to accomplish their goals.

“The strength and success of our business became just another thing to connect us, bond over and share with each other,” says Ellie Lamonaca, owner of Conserva Irrigation of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Lamonaca says that collaborating on something that brings in money for their life and future is very fulfilling.

Shanna Scordo, owner of  EarthCraft Landscaping, based in Indiana, Pennsylvania, says she and her husband are able to share every success and celebrate the wins together. She says they’re also there to support one another.

“I don’t have to explain to him what I’m going through because he already understands,” Scordo says.

Burns says that one benefit she’s experienced working together is mastering the art of time management. 

“We’ve learned to prioritize and schedule time for each other, just as we would any important business meeting,” Burns says. “Whether it’s sharing lunch, enjoying a simple ride together, or scheduling downtime, these moments are sacred and non-negotiable in our calendars. Intentionally carving out time for each other amidst our busy lives has been transformative. It ensures that, despite the pressures and demands of our business, we never lose sight of the foundation of our partnership—our relationship.”

Annie Taylor, owner of Foxglove Gardening, based in Flagstaff, Arizona, says the best thing about working with her spouse is the unconditional love and respect they have for one another. Taylor’s husband, Jason Minshew, says another benefit is the fact they can cover for each other so they can do the hobbies they enjoy. For instance, he likes to run in the afternoon and Taylor enjoys doing piano lessons on Monday.

“There’s not another person in the world that I could trust as much and have the same confidence in,” Minshew says. “I trust her intentions completely. It would be hard to imagine someone else that I would like to wade through hard conversations. She’s got my back and I’ve got her back. We don’t question that ever.”

The Challenges

Some of the hurdles to be mindful of when running a business with a spouse include increased chances of disagreements, lack of work-life balance and the shared risk.

Lamonaca notes that when you run a business with your partner you have a whole new category of things to argue about that aren’t relevant to the average couple.

“Thats why you want to prioritize the health of both your work relationship and romantic relationship,” Lamonaca says. “They can both help or hinder each other. In our case, running successful businesses has given us more to disagree on, at times, but it’s also given us more in common and a whole new category of things to bond over and work on together. Many couples lack or struggle with that whereas we have a surplus.”

Another challenge is striking a balance between your home life and the business. Ira says when speaking to Deborah, sometimes he has to remember they are husband and wife; she’s not just another employee. 

Koen says one challenge they face is having different leadership styles.

Minshew says work can be all-consuming at times, particularly in the spring, making it hard to escape from. Taylor says there are times they put the business before their kids.

Owning a business together also puts all your eggs in one basket.

“We’re all-in on our business, and running a business can be really hard,” Scordo says. “So if things aren’t going great, we both can carry a lot of stress about it.”  

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.