• 2902 N. VALLEY DRIVE
By Rachel Christiansen
Many residents in the Mesilla Valley are learning to do more with less – especially water – and landscaping is no different.
David Kraenzel, owner of Kraenzels Landscaping and Doña Ana Bend Farms Inc., said he has seen the trend emerge for low-maintenance and low water usage plants.
Using landscape that is resistant to the climate of the area, Kraenzel said, is one way to continue to enjoy the surroundings while not using too much of the precious resources.
Kraenzel has been a horticulturist and landscaper in the region for the past 41 years, and in 2003, merged both interests to focus solely on urban landscaping, both commercial and residential.
“A lot of our landscaping starts out as a drainage issue and then leads to a full landscape,” Kraenzel said. “Channeling the water is the No. 1 functional need, and secondary is aesthetics – how it looks, so it has curb appeal for the homeowner.”
Curb appeal, however, is what gives the customer the “aha moment” that Kraenzel said is his ultimate goal.
At the urging of friend and Doña Ana County Extension Agent Jeff Anderson, Kraenzel became a member of the Master Gardeners, a program that educates community members on gardening and plantrelated issues.
Because of this interest in gardening and planting, Kraenzel said the residential projects he has completed in areas such as Las Alturas, Picacho Hills and Sonoma Ranch have become a passion.
“Being with (Master Gardeners) allows me to focus on high-end garden areas with people who have like minds – kindred spirits, if you will,” Kraenzel said. “We like those projects because they are custom to the individual resident. “We try to tune into the customer’s visualization. I depend on the input of my steady customers. One customer may have a real sense of color, another on placement or how the plants should be put in, should they be asymmetrical, symmetrical … those types of technical viewpoints.”
A sluggish economy continues to affect many businesses, despite a comeback over recent years.
“Before 2008, I employed about 12 people,” he said. “It’s hard to carry full-time employees in this economy.”
With the help of agencies such as Manpower Inc., Kraenzel said he is able to hire employees on a contract basis when there are jobs that need more hands on deck.
A graduate of New Mexico State University who holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business, and master’s degrees in horticulture and marketing, Kraenzel said he maintains relationships within the university to always continue learning his trade. He also gives student designers the opportunity for design-and-build experience.
“We are blessed in this area with some really talented horticulture people,” he said.
The Ph.D. in adult education Kraenzel obtained from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is something he said he uses every day.
“The basics of adult education and how you teach people to do things comes into our training programs,” he said. “It extends to not only the company and the company employees, but to the customers. I’ve always been a firm believer that the best way to learn is to teach.”
All of Kraenzel’s education plays to his advantage within his business, as he continues to work with irrigation and water control, planting and farming and creating landscapes – all which fall under the umbrella of horticulture.
“We want our customers, when the landscape is done, to walk out the door and say, ‘Aha! That’s exactly what I wanted,’” Kraenzel said.