“We are creating beautiful, enjoyable green spaces for our clients, and that makes them happy,” said Shelley Midura, owner of Your Happy Garden, a landscaping business servicing most of the Greater New Orleans area. Midura is the former District A Councilwoman who started Your Happy Garden in 2015, a few years after her Council term ended in 2010.
Midura had enjoyed gardening for years. “Like many people, I liked working in the dirt,” she said. “Although it can be physically taxing, it’s grounding, it’s very satisfying.” It was after a weekend of gardening in her Dad’s backyard that she realized that she wanted to find a way to turn her passion into her vocation.
She explained: “I had to work in an office the next day. And even though I was physically exhausted, I was wishing I could wake up the next day and do more of the landscaping work instead of sitting behind a desk at a computer screen. That’s when it occurred, ‘I want to do something I love for the remainder of my working life’.”
Not long after, Midura took horticultural courses at Delgado and passed the Louisiana horticulturist licensing exam. Her first project, in 2015, involved transforming a filled-in pool into a courtyard/garden area for a local Bed & Breakfast. “The owner is a close friend who supported my desire to start a landscaping business. We did the courtyard and the front yard of her house.”
Starting up a small business was not without its challenges. “The learning curve was very steep,” Midura joked. She laughs now thinking about the night before her first job.
“I needed tools, so I went to Home Depot in my car and bought everything I thought we would need the next day, including a wheelbarrow. Imagine me fitting all of those garden tools and a wheelbarrow into a Volkswagen! But I did it. And over time, I’ve acquired a lot more tools, a truck, and a foreman so we can get to more clients.”
Getting to know the people she works for is truly a pleasure for Midura. “We’ve enjoyed some of our clients so much that I’ve wanted to become friends!” she proclaimed.
“People are generally so nice and appreciative. They are also friendly and thoughtful. One of our clients always has cookies for the crew; another gets the guys po-boys for lunch; yet another bought a specialty plant she overheard the crew discussing and kept it for them until we returned months later.”
Even in the heat of a summer day in New Orleans, Midura would rather be helping people improve their landscapes than sitting behind a desk in an air-conditioned office building. “Installing a new landscape or cleaning up an old one, it’s all about creating beauty in the natural environment and making our clients happy. My crew, our clients, and I, we all love it.”