Six Small Items Every Interiorscaper Should Own

As an interiorscaper, I have found that sometimes it’s the little things that I can’t live without.

Whether it is a quick solution to cleaning up messes or a proactive way to eliminate them, these six small items will make your job servicing accounts easier.

Chamois Cloth

No matter how long I’ve been in the interior plant business, I still have my share of blunders.  One such occasion happened while I was in the penthouse office for a Bank President.  His office looked like something out a movie with thirty foot ceilings, panoramic views of the city, a private marble tiled bathroom, original artwork and gilded mirrors.  For a year, I had never encountered the President while servicing his plants.  This particular day, I was taken back when I heard him approaching his office.  Trying to get a glimpse of this mysterious and powerful man, I stepped back and knocked over my watering can which was full.  Before I could catch it, two and a half gallons of water spilled onto the wood parquet floors and soaked the oriental carpet.  I’m frantically trying to wipe it up with my small hand towel but there was far too much water.  He walked in just as I was desperately trying to blot the carpet dry. Lucky for me, he was a compassionate person and didn’t appear to be upset that his hundred thousand dollar hand-woven rug had gotten wet.

I learned my lesson and ever since, I’ve proactively carried a chamois cloth. Because you can wring one out and it will absorb water again and again, chamois is so much more efficient than a cotton rag.  I also find it is more resistant to mold and doesn’t leave a bad odor in my carrying case like my other rags did.

Plastic Trash Bag

Another essential item for me, is the large plastic trash bag.  Obviously, trash bags are for carrying plant debris, but I’ve found they are handy for other situations.  For example, when I come across a palm that needs major trimming, I used to take me a long time to carefully cut away the dead ends while trying to catch all the falling pieces with my free hand.  After ten minutes of this, I usually realize the majority of tips have landed everywhere but my hand. Then I spend another ten to fifteen minutes crawling around the floor on my hands and knees scooping up the debris.

I tried using a paint drop cloth to catch debris, but it was way too much material to carry around.  Then one day while I was tediously scoping leaf after leaf into a trash bag, I had an idea.  If I cut along the seams of the bag, it would roughly be the same size as my heavy drop cloth.  Now, I can use both my hands to cut away feverishly with the majority of pieces landing on the plastic. I scoop up the plastic and away I go. Not only is this a huge time saver, but it can also protect hard surfaces from moisture when I have to mist the leaves.  As we all know, any amount of liquid on a smooth surface is potentially dangerous and cause for a lawsuit.  This alone is well worth cutting up a good trash bag…but there’s still more it can do.

Moving a defoliating Ficus from a building can be a nightmare. They tend to leave a messy trail of leaves behind.  And if you add in some mealy bugs, the hassle doubles.  After picking up a few of these sticky leaf trails, I decided to cover any decaying canopy with a flexible trash bag prior to moving the plant.  There are times when a tree is simply way too large for this trick, but for those that trees that aren’t, keeping diseased leaves contained is so much easier than doubling back through the building.  It also protects from spreading mealy bugs to other areas in the building as well as to any healthy plants that are in your vehicle.

EZ Sweep

EZ SweepWhile on the subject of making a mess, it seems no matter how careful I am when changing out a plant in a client’s office, inevitably, at least some dirt will make it onto the carpet. For some reason, when the client is there watching, you spill the most.  I’ve considered carrying around a dust buster, but adding another heavy object that doesn’t always work the greatest and requires constant charging didn’t seem feasible.  Looking online, I came across the EZ Sweep.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure how well this red plastic contraption would work, being so light and not needing a power source.  Since it’s a very small investment, I ultimately decided to order one and found myself pleasantly surprised.  This little gizmo was perfect for sweeping up dirt and small pieces of foliage on carpet.  For a little bit of money, the EZ Sweep has saved me from hunting down housekeeping, waiting for them to bring me a vacuum and wasting a good hour of my day.

Mega Paw

Mega PawAnother time-saving item I’ve ordered is the Mega Paw Cleaning Mitten.  It’s like an oven mitt for dusting.  With one on each of my hands, I can cover twice the area in half the time than using a feather duster or rag.  By spraying some plant shine on the mitt, it collects even more dust. If you have ever serviced an account in a building going through repainting, sanding or a remodel, you know what a nightmare construction dust can be.  You can dust every leaf and the next day it’s covered again.  In situations like this, having a Mega Paw can save you a lot of frustration.

Water Meter

One of the hardest concepts to teach a new technician, is how much to water a plant.  It floors me when I see how many people think the more water you give a plant, the better.  I once hired a tech who actually watered the fake plants.  Needless to say, she didn’t work out.  For those who do, providing them with a water meter can be invaluable.  Even for the experienced tech, it can be difficult to determine a plant’s water level.  Especially when you can’t access the soil, the water meter can save a plant from root rot or dehydration.  If you want to keep your plant replacement costs to a minimum, water meters are a good investment.

Business Cards

While this won’t directly increase efficiency, I have to mention the importance of having business cards on hand.  You would think that would be a no-brainer, but to this day, I still get caught without them.  I’ll be hard at work, refreshing one of my atriums, and someone passing by will ask for my information.  It’s that moment, I realize I’m completely out of cards.  Somehow, scribbling down my company info on a napkin doesn’t seem as professional as handing a potential client an actual business card.  When people witness the beautiful work you are doing in their building, it is one of the best opportunities you have to gain new clients.  Am ample amount of business cards may be one of the most important things I carry.  Make sure your technicians carry yours.

Let us know what small items you wouldn’t want to be caught without when servicing an account in the comments below. 

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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  • Clem Cirelli

    Sherry, now you know why we love our Aquamates so much!!!

  • Kelvin Kasumba

    Its got to be the garden gloves for me, just in case I have to handle some soil. One client once remarked “you look like a pro Mr Calvin Clean.” That did it.

  • the Ficus Wrangler

    Moisture meters – here’s an object many people love to hate! They seem to think a professional would never be caught dead with such an amateur piece of equipment; also, they are notoriously easy to break. However, after many years, I got over my prejudice, and realized they definitely have their place. Some people have a problem in feeling moisture on a soil probe or wooden stick, but they get along just fine with a meter. (Side question, how is it possible to take are of plants without thoroughly checking soil moisture? Does anyone actually have techs who don’t understand this?) Also, running the meter probe between fingers after pulling it out of the soil not only is a double check on the accuracy of the meter, but is a first warning of elevated salt level ( feels dry but registers moist, probably a salt problem.) Though I am wondering how you use a meter where you can’t access the soil?

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