Work Experience 13: Property Maintenance
After a fair bit of rain over the past few weeks Brisbane is looking lush, lovely and green again after a dry Winter. All that green means business is booming right now for the property maintenance operators, especially in the leafy Western Suburbs. Although the hedges lining the pathway to my front door have grown so much they’re practically touching in the middle, this week I worked with On the Ball Property Maintenance to tidy up other people’s yards. On the Ball specialises in the maintenance of acreage properties, but they are more than happy to mow, hedge, blow, mulch or trim properties of any size.
What did I do?
In the morning I met the On the Ball team at their headquarters, where they collected their vehicles, trailers, mowers and tools. After briefly stopping at the Brookfield Produce Store to pick up 9 bales of mulch and load them into the trailer, we continued on to property number one. The owners were preparing the house for sale, and wanted the gardens to be tidied up. With a team of 5 people, it only took an hour to mow, pull some weeds, spread mulch in a few of the garden beds around the house, and tidy up with blowers. It made a big difference!
The next job took us to a lovely big property that was new to the On the Ball team. As well as having a couple of acres of relatively steep mowing, the garden beds had been neglected for some time and were very overgrown. Three of the boys set to work on the lawn while the other two of us were on weeding duties. I sat while pulling out grasses and weeds until a huge spider ran towards me (I really hate spiders so by huge I mean the size of a 20 cent piece, anything bigger than that I’d describe as monstrous). I finished weeding in a squatted position – I really didn’t like the idea of a spider running up my shorts! Clearly the picture below was taken before the spider incident.
Once that garden bed was cleared we headed to a much bigger garden that had more weeds in it than plants, and set about pulling them out. Some of them were stuck very firmly into the ground and needed a lot of effort to pull out. Amongst other weeds, there were more cobblers pegs than I’d ever seen in one place before. By the time I’d finished my socks, clothes and even hair were covered in the annoying little prickles. Although we didn’t completely finish the weeding in the 2 hours we were allocated, it was very satisfying to see the difference we’d already made. The team will continue to visit this property regularly, each time working on the gardens to bring them back to their former glory.
Before we left I learnt how to use a blower to blow grass clippings from the paths around the house, patio, pool area and driveway. I had spent nearly two hours hunched over pulling out weeds, so was quite relieved that it was time for lunch and a stretch.
The afternoon was spent mowing, at a couple of different properties. At the first one I used a push mower to mow areas that were difficult to access with the ride-on, and at the second I had a lesson in how to ride the John Deere. I’ve always thought it looked like fun so was excited to have a go. I had a relatively flat paddock to mow, and basically just went around in circles, smiling as I went. What a lovely, relaxing way to end a physically tough day.
Day two began at a multi-million dollar mansion on the Brisbane River where a reality series is currently being filmed. Filming the night before had only wrapped up at 3am, and the On the Ball team were onsite at 7am as arranged with their mowers and blowers. I hope all of the contestants had earplugs. And strong coffee. And perhaps some industrial-strength makeup to hide the dark circles under their eyes!
Next, we went next door to another acreage property to mow and trim the hedges. As I know from leaving my own hedges for too long between trimmings on occasion, it makes for a big job! After a couple of hours of trimming and raking my arms and shoulders were fatigued, but the results were worth it. The garden looked lovely!
The rest of the day was spent whipper snipping, mowing (push mower and ride-on), blowing and raking. Once I returned home I didn’t move off the couch for at least an hour. My poor old aching body! Just like the feeling you get when you’ve done any exercise though, I loved it.
What did I learn?
Firstly, I learnt that although I do enjoy working in the garden, doing it for a full day and then backing it up with another day is pretty tough! I guess it’s like any form of exercise, the more you do the more your body adapts to it.
It was great to learn how to use some tools I haven’t used before. The petrol hedge trimmer I used is so much more efficient than the battery operated one I use at home. I think I may need to put one of those on my Christmas list!
I had a good chat with Peter, who started On the Ball four years ago after building a career in IT. He spoke about setting up a small business and what he’s learnt along the way, which was very interesting. I wasn’t surprised to hear that there is a lot of work involved in running a small business, so having a passion for the business is essential. A big part of my journey is to get insight not only into the range of jobs that people do, but also to understand what’s involved in running a small business in case I decide to run my own one day.
Thanks again to the On The Ball team for the great experience.