Passion Plus Expertise
Smith Tree & Landscape Services, Inc.
Reputable and long-standing in the community, Smith Tree & Landscape has reliably served the Lansing area for over 65 years with integrity, knowledge and a simple ideology that customer service is foremost. When many in the industry come and go, Smith Tree & Landscape has committed itself to preserving a second-generation family business that continues to operate under these same principles that have made it a trusted name in the residential and commercial care of property.
“This is a family business that was started by my parents,” co-owner Chris Smith says. “My mother was actually the first woman in the state to earn her degree from Michigan State University as a licensed architectural landscaper, working alongside my father to build their business together.”
Although most look at hiring professional landscapers and lawn care maintenance as a seasonal decision, Smith points out that in order to maintain one’s lawn and plantings, especially proper tree care, their work is an investment that is geared toward preservation and proper growing to keep perennial plants, shrubs and trees growing in a healthy, natural way, to prevent disease and wayward growth that can become unmanageable.
“We have an expert staff that is trained on how to care for our clients’ lawn and landscape needs that is dedicated, educated and there to provide advice to provide the maximum growth and beautification,” Smith says. “We have been in the business for a long time and value our clients. That is why we have been so successful even through a rough economic patch.”
Along with committed customer care, Smith Lawn & Landscape also understand the importance of providing consistently priced services and accurate estimates. “Providing firm quotes with no hidden costs or surprises is important to our business,” Smith explains. “As part of our business integrity, we always have an agreement that is based on a thorough assessment of the project in order to avoid being in a situation where we have to inform the client that it will cost more.”
Mindful of the reasonable expectation to complete jobs on time, Smith also pays particular attention to the condition of his trucks and the crew’s equipment. “Keeping up to date with regulations and safety requirements is very important to us,” Smith adds. “It is not only the right thing to do for our staff, but also to ensure proper care and maintenance to our clients. Not meeting deadlines because your equipment fails is not acceptable. Bad things can happen if you are not prepared.”
Smith recognizes that the majority of his business is referral-based and that his company’s commitment to excellent customer service, professional solutions and understanding that his services are a choice keep his staff and him working to stay focused and to provide the level of service his clients deserve.
Although his business actually began in 1979, Dan Dudley has spent most of his life in the tree business. Both his grandfather and father instilled in Dudley his passion and genuine expertise, as both were nurserymen. As one of 13 siblings, Dudley says that his father began growing trees for Michigan State University back in the ’30s and, to keep the baker’s dozen in line, bought a tree farm in Laingsburg to keep them all busy and learning about commitment and work ethic. His knowledge and understanding of the tree business made it possible for Dudley to pay for his college education at MSU, and today is his legacy.
Rooted in its relationship with Discount Trees for the past 20 years, MSU has partially partnered with the company, even studying its trees to find a vaccination for the devastating emerald ash borer disease that has plagued Michigan.
“As a third-generation nurseryman, it is important to be part of the solution and innovation to keep the tree industry thriving,” Dudley shares. “We have always been committed to one of the state’s foremost industries.”
With 28 farms totaling over 800 acres in five Michigan counties, Discount Trees is the largest grower of landscape trees in the state. “We are unique in the fact that we do grow all three types of trees: deciduous, ornamental and evergreens for both landscape and Christmas trees. Specializing in trees that are hardy enough for the Michigan climate, we also offer trees that are not indigenous to Michigan, but can withstand the varied climate we experience,” Dudley says. “We have over 200 different varieties, which is unsurpassed in the nursery industry and a fact that truly makes us stand out.”
Although providing a vast variety in shape, size and color, Dudley points out that most popular for homeowners and businesses are the blue spruce and Crimson King maples because of the vibrant colors. “These are great trees,” Dudley says. “But the Crimson King is a slow grower. If our clients are looking for faster growth, we suggest “sister” fast-growing trees like the red maple and the new autumn blaze maple hybrid that grow to 20 feet in just seven years. An alternative to the blue spruce is the Norway or the white spruce which grow almost twice as fast to provide the growth and beauty that clients seek.”
Dudley also provides excellent information on winter planting, which seems absurd to some. “It actually is the best time to transplant trees because they are dormant, the ground is frozen to minimize lawn damage, and with new technology, we have the ability to dig through the frost with one of our seven hydraulic transplanter machines.”
Additionally, Discount Trees encourages clients the opportunity to visit their nurseries and hand select their very own tree rather than reviewing pictures. And because clients have already selected their tree and have made proper arrangements, the tree is easily dug up and delivered expeditiously, minimizing additional stress on the tree, which ultimately promotes more favorable growing conditions because it is less stressed and improves its survivability rate.
With more than 100 years of personal and staff combined experience, Dudley and his wife, Kim, provide some of the best advice and expert technique available. “Not only have Kim and I been doing this for over 30 years, our lead nursery manager, Lawrence Kaylor, is also a second-generation nurseryman. He has even developed a patent-pending potting machine that has brought tree survival rates up to 90 percent for our live Christmas trees, which means that you can buy a tree for the holidays then plant it to be enjoyed for years to come.
“We recently donated a tree to the Volunteers of America that could be planted into their courtyard after the season is over, which not only provided needed holiday spirit for our veterans, but gave them a beautiful tree to be enjoyed year-round.”
Always giving 100 percent to customer care and education, Discount Trees remains committed to the communities it serves. Their expertise has allowed them to plant trees for the governors of Michigan, the Ford family, former Domino’s pizza owner Tom Monaghan and many MSU coaches.
“Our motto has always been ‘Quality Trees at Discount Prices,’ and our commitment has always been to our clients and the preservation and growth of one of our most valued industries: Michigan-grown trees.”
Author: Trenna Nees.
Photography: Terri Shaver.