COLUMBIA, MO—Landscaper Kevin Larson announced Monday that, while he has enjoyed working as part of ensemble crews on smaller, low-budget projects, he is looking for a breakout lawn that will place him in the top tier of Columbia's lawn-care industry.
Larson broke into the business six years ago with a job as a lawn mower at a small company called Brickman Landscaping, where he worked alongside such landscaping legends as Ramon and Charlie on the neighborhood-acclaimed Holden estate. Since then, he has started his own business, KM Larson Greenery, hoping to attract the client who will let him experiment with his craft.
"I feel that six years of mowing lawns and laying mulch have prepared me for something bigger," Larson said. "When people drive by one of my lawns, I want it to make them think. I want to redefine what a lawn can mean to people."
According to Larson, the perfect lawn is one that has "a lot to work with" and "tons of exposure—ideally at the corner of a busy intersection, where drivers will have the time to stop and really appreciate the work and vision that went into the lawn." Larson added that the client has to be willing to trust the landscaper, and "really let him test the limits of the profession."
"Just once, I would like to have a client who isn't afraid to push the boundaries," Larson said. "But it's always the same: drop in some fertilizer spikes, trim the shrubs, change the seasonal bulbs, and we're done. I have so much more to offer. I have big plans—and the cedar chips to match."
Larson said success stories in the landscaping industry are not without precedent.
"Look at Bob from Bob's Landscaping," Larson said. "He was trimming hedges before the Whitman family noticed him and gave him his big break—the contract for their two-acre yard on Pine Oaks Lane. Now he gets to work on any lawn he wants, and he can get away with doing just one really big one a year."
"I need my own 2338 Pine Oaks Lane," Larson added.
Although many landscapers "sacrifice their artistic integrity for material gain," Larson said he is not interested in becoming a fixture on the covers of magazines like House & Garden, but rather "working on a lawn [he] believes in."
"I've turned down plenty of big-budget offers—like the Lakeside Mall job—because the project was being limited by people at the top who have a very narrow idea of what a landscaper can really do," Larson said. "All I want is to get my breakthrough lawn, a lawn I can put my own personality into and really make my own, maybe by—and this is just one idea—putting little white rocks around the trees."
Larson, who has received callbacks from many of his clients asking him to return for similar projects, said he is not interested in being pigeonholed into one specific type of lawn.
"I don't want to become known as the guy who only does octagonal-brick garden paths," Larson said. "I want to try different things—granite slabs, petunia arrangements, shrubs… I just need to find that one lawn that lets me be me."
He added: "I want people to start looking at different lawns in the neighborhood and saying, 'You know, this lawn would be perfect for Kevin Larson.'"