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Dr. Dirt
May 2016

What's in a Name?

— in which Dr. Dirt does some name-calling —

When I was in Georgia for a bit last winter, I was struck dumb by the name of a beauty parlor in a small town near Atlanta: “Curl Up and Dye.” It could have been as likely a funeral home. But that prize must go to “Budget Burials: Cheaper and Deeper.” These names are not great marketing concepts, but business owners (like some writers) can get caught up in their own cleverness. So I’ve been cogitating this month on the names of companies.

My favorite law firm, of course, is Click and Clack’s “Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe.” I hired this firm for a speeding ticket that lost my license for two weeks. My lawyer’s $2,000 legal defense can be summed up as, “My client pleads guilty, Your Honor.” I could have gone with “Ditcher, Quick & Hyde,” but they were divorce lawyers. This reminds me of my own divorce, which was from an attorney. The take-away there is: Consider NOT marrying an attorney, should you cross the blood-red line in the sand and consider marriage a viable option.

At this time of year, attorney thoughts coalesce with accountant thoughts into the pustule of the IRS birthday on April 15. For your amusement, as tax season rears its ugly head, I tracked down the tax firm of “Many Happy Returns, Inc,” who promise to make us smile as we pay our federal dues.

Then I began thinking of landscape companies. Sandy and Ken Burt named their farm and business “Nevah Dun,” which is a clever and 99% accurate take on a farm almost anywhere. But I always wondered what new customers thought of that as the name of their landscape service provider. The Burts’ did good work and were successful, so I’m guessing the humor was appreciated by their clientele and that they did manage to finish their jobs. Another farm that I drive past with some frequency along US 4 is “Aggravation Acres.” Got it! More worrisome is the New York landscape contractor “I’ll Get Around to It Landscape Company.” That sounds slightly quicker than Nevah Dun, but somehow more worrisome at the same time. And over in Vermont, I’ve heard of “Good Enough Landscaping,” which has me bothered about the clientele more than the landscaper. “I can do a great landscape for you, but I think you’d be just as happy with something that’s just Good Enough. You folks are losers.”

A tree company called “Broken Limbs” in upstate New York is somewhat disturbing, and I wonder about their Workers’ Comp rates. “Arboreal Habitats,” a wholesale nursery in Vermont, suggests to me tree houses as much as trees; perhaps they should combine with another Vermont company “Ground Level Landscaping” to become full-service providers. In Massachusetts, I ran across “Biomass Tree and Landscaping,” which sounds like the intent is producing woodchips to generate electricity, not the ideal landscape installation company. They might team up with the “Bark Brothers” in Lisbon Falls, Maine.

A colleague in the Seacoast area was pushing an irrigation business called “Bed Wetters,” but in the end decided, I think wisely, that the name would be a wet blanket for his company. And if you like wet, you can buy a plunge pool by the aptly named “Soake Pools” of Madbury NH. For stone products, I recommend “Let’s Get Stoned,” in the Philadelphia area. The stones are the same as anywhere else, but you go there for the experience.

Lawn companies may be out in front (a cut above?) on company names. “Turf Tamers” of Lisbon, Maine, offer to whip your grass into shape. Burlington’s “Grass Gauchos” will similarly ride herd on your lawn, and “Prime Cut Landscaping” in Scarborough, Maine, may offer cattle to help keep the grass under control. The “Lawn Dawg” in Portland is a likely fan of David Grisman’s “dawg music,” not an especially green name, but hip. My favorite turf company name evolution has got to be “ChemLawn,” now magically morphed into “TruGreen” – corporate public relations spin at its finest.

On the more confusing side, there’s “Just Dancing Gardens” of Burlington, and “A Room with a View,” in Newton, Massachusetts, located just off Broadway. “Fat Cod Landscaping” in Seacoast NH suggests Squanto’s purported teaching of Pilgrims to plant fish along with corn seeds, but the business actually got its name from the owner’s previous business as a fisherman. In similar fashion “Green Penguin Landscaping” is a sort of paradoxical name – lawns in the New Hampshire Arctic? – but it’s a successful business in Rye and owner Jason Kindstedt does have an explanation, which I’ve sadly forgotten. The important part is “green.”

And then for the homeowner who demands something completely different, please take a consultation and design with “Beyond Landscape Contracting” of Lunenburg, Massachusetts: a time-space-bending company which will apparently take your landscape to a four-dimensional place far far away. Good luck with that!

— Dr. Dirt refuses to name names, other than John Hart, dba Environments LLC, Durham.



Dr. Dirt, a.k.a. John Hart