There’s an article in the California section of today’s L.A. Times that covers the pinch gardeners are feeling during these tough economic times. True, true… services like that are among the first to get cut when money belts get tightened.

Susan and I canceled the twice-a-month visits from our gardening crew a few months ago, but the choice wasn’t borne of economic necessity. Fact is the gardener we used charged something like $40, though one might argue that at that rate we should have been given at least an hour’s service instead of the 30 minutes (tops) they usually took to tidy up the sides and front of the house.

More specifically we let them go because they did a pretty mediocre jobĀ  (and one that I felt I could do myself — and since have). I had already doing the backyard for more than a year after we barred them from it on the heels of two occasions in which gates were inattentively left open.

But even more than that, they just plain fouled up too much. More than once we’d come home to find they’d butchered some nicely flowering plant, denuding it of all color and bloom and leaving nothing but chopped-off greenery. WTF!?

The final straw was usage of a gas-powered leaf blower after we strictly forbid them from using those infernal, illegal noisy and disgusting contraptions. We had just taken a neighbor to task for allowing their gardening crew to use the dangblasted machines, and we weren’t at all interested in being hypocrites. Our gardener agreed to comply.

I don’t know how many weeks later it was, but having stayed home late one weekday morning for an appointment before going in to work, the gardeners arrived and got busy. It wasn’t long before one of the crew was up on the porch full-throttle with a gas-powered leaf blower, and it was about a second later that I was on the porch with him telling him to stop it.

That evening when Susan got home I told her what happened and wondered how many weeks — if at all — they had abided by our request. At first Susan was going to call and reinforce compliance with our ban (and perhaps even go so far as to purchase a legal but only slightly less heinous electric-powered blower), but upon further review we agreed just to cut them loose and I would go oldschool with rakes and brooms in in taking over the landscaping duties.

The one extravagence allowed was an electric hedger I bought to keep the towering front yard bougainvillea tamed. That device paid for itself in a month of no gardeners, and since then I’ve been taking care of the sweeping, trimming, clipping, raking, watering, transplanting duties and stuff.

There was a point to this and I’m sorry it got so delayed: While gardeners and those in other service industries will indeed lose clients through these lean and tumultuous times, it might not always because of stark economic realities. In our case our gardener lost us because through repeated demonstrations of inattention and disregard for our wishes he had established a worthlessness rather than a worth. Had it been the other way around, odds are we’d still be his clients.