#HoutBayBusinessFocus No1.The Landscaper

Brettee Walker has been in landscaping since his early twenties when, inspired by a vivid dream and early memories of gardening with his grandmother, he abandoned his journalism studies and found work at a garden nursery. Successfully advising customers on their plant selection evolved into going it alone as a landscaper, and these days his work ranges from entire garden transformations to minor improvements, and his portfolio includes some of the largest and most impressive gardens in the Valley.
He has a team of 7 permanent employees and that number can double with casual staff during busy periods. He sees the training-up of young people as the best way he can give back to the community, and is justly proud of incubating the skills of local landscaper and IY resident Siya Mtembu to spawn an independent maintenance business. He says, “I have got enormous joy from watching my crew evolve, many of whom have been with me since they were in their early 20s and are now in their 30s. And I’m so proud of Siya – that he’s out there and making his own money”.
Asked what makes a good gardener, Brettlee says he or she will “take joy and pride in what they’re doing…and they need to really observe – the seasons, the changes in the plants, and so on – and to learn the names of plants too, because if you can’t identify it by name you’re not really going to see it”.
His own approach combines strong design skills – “I spend a lot of time laying out a garden in my mind before I put it onto paper” – and expert plantsmanship. The biggest challenges of running a landscape business, aside from the age-old problem of cash-flow, is that he finds clients are often completely clueless as to how much they want to spend on a garden project, and so agreeing a budget can be a balancing act!
Brettlee’s passion for his business is striking, and he agrees it is very much the focus of his life – leaving little time for holidays, for example – but he is also passionate about music and in his spare is often to be found making playlists which span an eclectic mix of genres. Brettlee has learned and studied some Xhosa over the years to enhance his relationship with his team. He speaks passionately about the literacy levels of South Africans and the need for young people to develop a thirst for books and knowledge. “What’s important to me is that people have hope and that people feel they belong in a community and have future options.” Originally from KZN, he’s lived in Cape Town for most of his life, and Hout Bay for the last 15 years. He lives with his partner Douglas Austin, and they also share office space in Victoria Mall, from where Austin runs his construction business. Brettlee loves Hout Bay as a place to live and work but says it needs more commercial spaces to enable local business to thrive, and to attract more young people to avoid an ageing population. He hopes it doesn’t become “too expensive and exclusive”. He says finding new clients is mainly word-of-mouth, though he has in the past written a column in the Bay and is currently focussed on doing more Facebook marketing.
BrettleeFor more information about Brettlee Walker Landscape Design and Installation go to https://www.facebook.com/BrettleeWa…, www.brettleewalker.com/ or tel. 083 632 7549
#HoutBayBusinessFocus is a series of posts about local businesses in Hout Bay. Powered by the Hout Bay Partnership, making the connection between local government, business and community.