When he was 12 years old, Kalin Emrich scampered up a tree with a saw clenched between his teeth to cut some limbs off of a tree at a dentist's office for his mom, Katie - known across Sisters as The Garden Angel.
"Totally not OSHA approved," Emrich said last week as he recalled his start in the family business.
Kalin has been the crew foreman for The Garden Angel since he was 18 years old. Now he's in his early 30s, and as of January 1, he's the owner and operator.
"It's definitely carrying on the family legacy and trying to extend the kind of service that my mother delivered - which was personal," Emrich told The Nugget.
In addition, Emrich is adding "another layer of professionalism and skill and the licensing."
The Garden Angel is qualified to provide landscape maintenance, irrigation repair, small additions and planting.
While Emrich can provide whatever plantings a client desires, he has a particular focus on native plants. Landscaping with native plants is catching on more and more in Sisters Country as homeowners seek to lighten their footprint and create a home landscape environment that blends in well.
Emrich notes that "Black Butte Ranch now requires residents to choose from a list of approved native plants."
From his point of view, this is nothing but a good thing.
"If I can get people to have a beautiful landscape with things that come from here, it uses less water and it takes to the soil better," Emrich said.
Similarly, more and more people in Sisters Country are recognizing the benefits of a natural approach to their landscape - eschewing or at least minimizing the use of chemicals and synthetic compounds.
While synthetics have a powerful, immediate effect - which is gratifying to see overnight - they deplete the soil and, as with any addict, it requires more and more of the same compound to have the desired effect.
Emrich is a firm believer in building a healthy landscape through building or rebuilding the soil ecology - getting beneficial fungi and bacteria back into the soil. And that can take some time and commitment.
Sometimes there's resistance to going the natural route.
"Usually people think: Ineffective, expensive, and I'm not trying to save the whales here," Emrich said.
But more and more people are increasingly open to investing in the long-term health of their landscape - not least because it's safer and healthier for the people who work in it and for pets and children.
And Emrich notes that it's not necessary to switch wholesale from one approach to the other. There are "bridge products" that can be used to "wean" a landscape off chemicals. Kalin just wants his clients to know that there are alternatives and they are effective - and that The Garden Angel is committed to working with clients to create a healthy and beautiful landscape on their property.
For more information, contact The Garden Angel at 541-549-2882.