Steve Ambrose and landscaping crew at The Camp in Bat Cave

Steve Ambrose and landscaping crew at The Camp in Bat Cave. From "For Ambrose, landscaping an art".


Ambrose Landscapes In The News

Real Men Read Sophie

Steve was featured in the Jan. 2011 issue of Sophie Magazine.

"Studies by NC State show that 85% of landscaping in North Carolina is residential, and that 95% of those landscaping decisions are made by a woman. So naturally I read Sophie every month."

Real Men Read Sophie -- landscape contractor and designer Steve Ambrose

Asheville's sweltering summer is officially the hottest on record

by Casey Blake, Asheville Citizen-Times
published Sept. 8, 2010

Cool, green Asheville was neither this summer as dry weather left grass tinged with brown and a string of 90-degree days pushed the area to an unwelcomed record.

Not a single day made it past 94 degrees, but unrelenting heat and unusually warm nights gave Asheville its hottest summer on record, the National Weather Service says.

Asheville’s cumulative temperature averages from June, July and August reached 75.4 degrees. The previous record, 75.1 degrees, was in 1952.

“It was the duration and the consistency of the heat that really put us over the top,” said Scott Stephens, a meteorologist with the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville.

Asheville’s hottest day this year, July 8, climbed to 94 degrees and temperatures remained at 90 degrees or more for 19 days straight, the weather service said.

But according to Stephens, the summer’s night temperatures were the real upset for heat records this year.

“Not only were the days hot but the night temperatures were strikingly warm,” Stephens said. “That’s something big to take into consideration when looking at these records.”

Despite the sweltering statistics, local landscaper Steve Ambrose, owner of Ambrose Landscapes in Asheville, said the heat has actually led to a bump in business.

“The higher temperatures have led to more violent rain and storms, contributing to a lot more erosion than usual,” Ambrose said. “My calls have definitely gone up for erosion control so the heat has actually been a big help for business.”

The violent rains may be exactly what area plants need to survive, Stephens said.

"We’re definitely going to need some help from tropical storm fronts,” he said. “They can obviously be very destructive but they’re also a really beneficial source of precipitation, and we need that right now.”

Hominy Valley Day of Caring

Sept. 2, 2010

Volunteers plant wildlife habitat at local elementary school

steve ambrose surveying plants before volunteers begin work

Hominy Valley Elementary School in Candler is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat thanks to the efforts of Landscape Contractor Steve Ambrose, who coordinated a team of volunteers in turning little-used, high-maintenance lawn areas on the school grounds into sustainable, water-conserving wildlife habitat and filling in the existing beds. For the school's 2010 "Day of Caring," bankers donned work gloves and planted trees side-by-side with schoolteachers and kids.
Read the story ...

Asheville will mark one of warmest Julys on record

By Sabian Warren
published July 28, 2010
Asheville Citizen-Times

For the second straight month, the city will earn a place near the top of the record books for hot weather, National Climatic Data Center meteorologist Scott Stephens said.

While there are still a few days left in the month, it's certain that July 2010 will end up as one of the warmest months on record. For now, with an average overall temperature of 76, Asheville has seen the fourth hottest July, with a chance to move up to third.

Last month was the fourth hottest June with an average temperature of 74.4.

“We haven't been just imagining it,” Stephens said. “It's been really warm since the beginning of the summer.”

Asheville has recorded 12 days at 90 or above this summer, six in June and six in July.

“Last year it didn't get to 90 a single day,” Stephens said. “It was very wet, with a lot of cloudiness. It was certainly a lot wetter than we've had in Buncombe County this year.”

A little cooler weather is expected today, but the city will get close to the 90-degree-mark again Thursday and Friday before seeing temperatures dip slightly for the weekend.

All those oppressively hot days are weighing heavily on workers at Ambrose Landscapes. Working outdoors in such weather could lead to trouble if certain precautions aren't taken, owner Steve Ambrose said.

“You absolutely eat breakfast, and you eat some fruit during the day,” he said. “You always bring tons of water and pace yourself. You should drink fluids regularly and take some little breaks.”

A wide-brim hat also helps, Ambrose said.

“I basically went for the hat with the biggest brim,” he said.

Statistically, the good news is Asheville normally sees the hottest temperatures of the year in the third week of July. After that, temperatures gradually begin to decline.

Small-business profile: Landscape company digs in with the land in mind

For Ambrose, landscaping an art

by Matt Byers, Special to the Asheville Citizen-Times
published May 2, 2010 12:15 am

Business: Ambrose Landscapes.

Who: Steve Ambrose.

Key to success: “It's natural for me to look out for folks, which is problematic for being a good business,” Steve Ambrose said. “There's nothing more satisfying than to be able to see it all and offer simple wonderful solutions that save people this stress of how to fix it. It's the best feeling in the world to be able to put people's mind at ease.

“It's that old question of what you would do if you didn't need money,” he continued. “People ask what I do in my free time, and it's landscape.”

Back story: Ambrose says that his transition from Manhattan real estate broker to sustainable landscaping is not as much of a stretch as it appears to be.

Growing up in New York, Ambrose learned about gardening from his mother and grandparents, and often spent time in Asheville visiting relatives. Besides, “the same landscaper who did Central Park did the Biltmore,” Ambrose said, referring to Frederick Olmsted.

“My favorite part of real estate is the land,” Ambrose said. In 1992, he purchased 60 acres in Flat Rock, where he started “watching the water and erosion” and making the land fit for development. “I had to get really crafty,” he said. “Nothing had been done with the property for forty years. It was a jungle. It was about finding the natural resources and using them.”

Although Ambrose says that he “tried to make it as natural as (he) could” and found ways to use the water on his property to make ponds and use river stones to make stone walkways, he says that “it became clear in the late '90s that being a developer was a bad word,” and decided to concentrate on what he was passionate about: landscape design.

Now, he specializes in sustainable, low-maintenance, attractive designs, and though he has a zeal for new technology, he says that often the best solution is the most natural one.

“There's so much technology in nature,” Ambrose said. For example, plants make excellent water filters because “they can take these complicated man-made chemicals and break them down.”

Changing Times: By utilizing natural solutions to problems such as erosion, Ambrose said that not only are his methods more sustainable, but also result in time and money saved by his clients.

Technologies such as permeable pavers, which allow water to percolate and collect rather than run off, and rain ponds, Ambrose explained, collect water and result in less money spent on municipal water. These in turn allow vegetation to grow, which protects the soil.

“The whole green industry is no longer a bunch of bearded people with sandals talking about what the right thing is,” Ambrose said. “Green used to be derelict and lazy, but now it's highest tech. The recession is causing the whole green industry to be looked at differently.”

Satisfied customer: Lisa King, a seventh-grade history teacher at Enka Middle School, said she consulted seven or eight other contractors about water erosion in her yard before coming across Ambrose Landscapes.

“We had a severe water runoff problem,” King said. “Every time it rained, I held my breath because I knew I'd have to go out and shovel.”

She said that every other contractor offered the same solution, which involved using big grey stones to divert water on her property.

“It was not visually attractive and not at all in keeping with the log home that we have,” she said, but Ambrose “used river rocks to divert the river water,” in a wide turn around her driveway, and built a rain pond for the water to collect in.

King said that the solution “amazes [her] every time it rains,” and she knows the solution is “permanent.”

“He's a well-educated professional about his art,” King said, “and that's kind of what it is. It was an exceptional job.”

Top left: Steve Ambrose and landscaping crew at The Camp in Bat Cave. (Photo by Steve Dixon, Asheville Citizen-Times.)