Fikirini Katana occasionally earns about Sh100,000 from a single contract of making flower pots and giving the rich people’s gardens a makeover. But he warns that landscaping is not entirely a bed of roses.
A Form One dropout, he started his business three years ago and within the short period, he has got big-name clients who want to spruce up their homes.
Some of his clients are Tawfiq Balala, soccer star MacDonald Mariga and other Kenya’s rich with holiday homes in the coastal town.
“I did a landscaping job for Mariga in one of his homes in Vipingo Ridge and he was happy. Mr Balala has also been a regular buyer of my pots,” he says.
The 28-year-old started the business, Mnarani Garden Centre, out of passion and now employs six people.
His love for flowers started at a tender age. “While growing up, neat flower gardens fascinated me. I fell in love with and pruned them every time new leaves popped out,” says Mr Katana.
One day, a neighbour paid him after he helped with planting flowers in his garden.
“That money opened my eyes. I started selling flowers and doing landscaping.”
He uses sand, coral chips, cement, ballast and water to make flower pots — which are different from the clay plant containers common in the market.
At his Kilifi site, his workers are busy finalising on an order to make pots worth Sh80,000 to be sent to a Mombasa customer.
‘‘It has been three years of hard work. When I started, I only did small jobs in Kiwandani and other sprawling villages within Kilifi town, but, now, I have established myself and clients are coming to buy the pots and sometimes I get orders to do landscaping in private homes,” he says. Mr Katana says pot-making and landscaping are tiring and not for the faint-hearted.
A mould for a big pot takes a week to make and the pot takes two days to be ready. A pot goes for between Sh2,500 and Sh10,000 depending on the size, materials used and time taken working on it. He sells garden lamps for Sh5,000.
For landscaping, he charges from Sh25,000 to Sh70,000 depending on the set-up. “Some designs are complicated and need well planned arrangements. For such jobs, I charge higher rates,” he added.
“My business has picked up and I am planning to go back to school. I know education is the only root to success,” he says.
Richard Agak, a landscape architect, says fees depend on scope of work including placing building pads, drainage and grading, textures, outdoor features like swimming pools, water fountains, drive ways, walk ways, and parking lots.
Designing lighting, irrigation, and the “common” garden landscaping are also part of the job.
The bulk of landscaping clients are dawn from corporate bodies like hotels, however individuals are also increasingly realising its value.