For the past couple years I've hired a woman to help me a couple hours a week with the weeding, deadheading and flower bed maintenance. Last year she got sick and won't be able to return this summer. So I placed an ad on craigslist. Mind you, this is a position that pays $30 to $40 per week based on experience. Within the 10 days the ad was live, I received more than 30 applicants! Many extremely qualified with degrees in horticulture, master gardener certification and chemical application certified. Amazing!
Hired a nice young man who works at a local greenhouse. He seems very knowledgeable, eager and was willing to make give me is "friend discount" at the greenhouse. Kind of excited about working with him this growing season.
We were fortunate enough to have two 15 year old's come by promoting their new yard service. They are willing to do anything from mowing the lawn to spreading mulch. They charge $15 an hour as a pair. We had our yard raked on Sat. They bagged everything & even loaded it on the trailer. They are a very responsible pair. We have them for mulching time as well. I will be spreading the mulch & they will be filling the wheelborrows & hauling it for me. This should save a couple of days! The older I get & the more my gardens have grown, I just have to accept the fact that I need some help.
I hired a woman who had an ad on Craigslist a couple years ago. She charged $15 per hour. I had no time to do the spring cleanup on this one area of my yard that grows scrub trees and weeds (I keep meaning to fix that and keep running out of money and energy.) She came in and worked for 4 hours straight with a half-hour lunch break (which she didn't charge me for.) The work she got done was nothing short of amazing. She literally hauled out a hand saw and hacked down the scrub, cleaned out the dead weeds, ripped out the old tarps and things the previous owner or tenant had buried back there (as a weed barrier, maybe? Whatever the purpose...it didn't work) and left my yard looking amazing. BEST $60 I ever spent. I can't believe how hard she worked and how much she accomplished.
Sadly, I've lost her number and she's not on Craigslist any longer that I can see. I would hire her again to help with my spring cleanup in a flash.
I think sometimes we get the idea that gardening help is expensive, but to me it's a very worthwhile investment. If I try to take on too much in my weedy, half-acre backyard I completely run out of steam by early summer and I get overwhelmed. Hiring someone (when I can afford it) is like an inoculation against that.
Hmmmmm...maybe we need to get together...I don't know how far Watertown is...(and I charge $20...LOL). And I have a Spousal Unit as my underling...someone asked me "oh, does he get paid too?" I replied, "Oh, yes, but I'm just like town...I CHARGE $20/hr for him, but I only give him $10". LOL No, actually, he did get the whole amount. :>)
I was feeling kind of bad that the economy was so horrid that so many people applied. While some were super skilled, a few were pretty much begging for work. One guy promised me he would put away all his earnings for his retirement (he was 64). One woman said she didn't know anything about gardens but was willing to learn if it would get income in her house. I was tempted to help her but she had no transportation to get to my house, no tools, and due to child care issues very limited time slots when she could work.
I agree with you, duck_toller--it is sad that so many people are looking for work. Even so, you may only have a job for one person...but you're part of the solution, because this is the way people help one another during tough economic times. We're all feeling the affects of the awful economy. You happen to have some money you've earmarked for cleaning up your garden (and saving your sanity), and someone else wants to earn that money. The money that person earns from you is an investment in your community in the long run.
My family's cup is certainly not running over with disposable income, but we have certain things we've set aside as priorities. They're investments in our property, mostly. So we've hired individuals to work on our plumbing (a retired master plumber), someone who does mechanic work on the side to work on my husband's car (he also does small engine repair and we bought our lawn mower from him), and will probably hire someone to help with our landscaping/gardening chores.