The Level Green Culture Blog

Behind the scenes and insider information for landscaping careers and green industry jobs.

Douglass Delano

Douglass Delano

Doug Delano (and Bill Hardy) opened Level Green Landscaping LLC in 2002 to offer Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia reliable commercial landscape maintenance services.

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There’s a scenario in which Jennifer Ruggeri can use a lot of her skills at once and it goes like this:

She skydives from an airplane into a kayak on a chilly stream and journeys down the river until she comes upon a group of adventurers — hungry, cold and wet from falling into the water.

Jennifer quickly assembles a tasty charcuterie board of meats, nuts, and cheeses.

Then she knits warm sweaters for everybody to ward off the chill and uses sign language to communicate, as the adventurers are all hearing impaired.

Sometimes a spring landscaping cleanup is about more than cutting back perennials and hauling away weeds.

It’s about making a place tidy and fresh, so the people who live there can be proud to call it home.

A group of volunteers from Level Green Landscaping spent a recent morning cleaning up the property at The Light House, Inc. in Annapolis, a homeless prevention support center that provides shelter and services, helping people as they transition toward jobs, housing, and self sufficiency.

“People live there, both families and single individuals,” says Paul Wisniewski, division manager at Level Green. “There’s a kitchen where they give out meals. A community center with computers that’s a big gathering place. We want to make this place, their home, presentable.”

Beyond providing food, clothing, and shelter, The Light House also addresses the underlying causes of homelessness, including lack of marketable job skills, addiction, and the debilitating effects of mental and physical health issues.

It’s a big mission that leaves little time to worry about the property’s landscaping.

“They rely on volunteers to help out,” Wisniewski says. “We’d rather they focus on the good work that they do and let us help with the landscaping.”

So that’s what happened in early April when a group from Level Green’s corporate headquarters and its Anne Arundel County branch converged at the Light House for a morning of spring cleanup.

One summer during college Adam Smith landed a job as a whitewater rafting guide in Colorado.

He had no experience in this adventurous sport, but drove straight through from Maryland to the mountain state and was ready to learn how to navigate the Arkansas River. Of course, there’d be training.

“I threw myself into class 3 and 4 rapids to see what it would be like if I flipped my boat,” he recalls.

Yikes.

When Ashley Beazer muses about landscaping and why she likes it, you’d never know she’s a college sophomore who’s just started learning the ropes.

A confident deep thinker, Ashley kind of wows you.

It’s no surprise she won a $1,000 college scholarship through the National Association of Landscape Professionals, funded by contributor Level Green Landscaping.

A sophomore studying Landscape Management at
Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, Ashley talks about landscaping as the perfect fit for her multifaceted self.

“I discovered it’s a mix of business and art and science, “ she says. “That was appealing to me. I didn’t have to choose to be only a scientist or only an artist or only a businesswoman. I could do it all, and in a setting that I loved — outside, in nature.”

She knows she’s not the only one who loves to be outside.

“It’s a place where people make connections and discover meaning,” she says. “You connect with family outside, with friends, with yourself, with God. Being a part of creating and maintaining that space is special. It’s being part of something bigger than you, and I like that.”

The crews at Level Green Landscaping’s North Branch don’t wear your average, boring cloth safety masks.

They sport Snoopy. Planets. Cat masks that proclaim, “You had me at meow.”

They’re hand-crafted by Kathy Schneider, the effervescent mom of branch manager Joey Schneider. Nothing about her is boring.

Kathy sews 10 to 15 masks for the branch each weekend. Joey brings them to work on Mondays, and operations manager Jose Ruiz hands them out to grateful crews and managers.

First things first: yes, that’s a photo of Marcene with famous gymnast Gabby Douglas, two-time gold medalist at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games.

Champions hang out together. 

When Marcene was 10, she was the gymnastics floor exercise champion for the whole state of Maryland.

She spent hours practicing in the gym four nights a week and all day on Saturdays.

“It gave me discipline and focus that I’ve used my whole life,” she says.

When Brian Outten interviewed for a job as shop manager at Level Green Landscaping, co-owner Bill Hardy told him he wouldn’t have to worry about Brian showing up late for work.

Brian served in the U.S. Army, where being punctual is a way of life.

That's just one of the traits Brian brings to his landscaping work, as a military veteran. 

Hector Diaz learned how to work hard at an early age, growing up with seven siblings on his parents’ small farm in Guatemala. 

They grew corn and beans and raised cattle, dairy cows, pigs and chickens.

“I started feeding cows when I was 7 or 8 years old, after school,” Hector says. “Ever since we were little, my father would tell us, ‘We are not rich, so I can’t give you money. But I’ll teach you to work hard, and by doing that, I know you’ll be successful in life.’”

His dad was right.