Gavin Andersen and Steve Dierkes (Courtesy Lawn Barbers)

Steve Dierkes and Gavin Andersen – co-owners of local lawn maintenance company The Lawn Barbers – tackled snakes, poison ivy and swarms of cicadas while maintaining the lawns of Arlington residents.

But they say the bugs and the weeds were worth the experience running a business together.

The two tried their hand at lawn maintenance in high school, and when their summer internships were canceled due to the pandemic, they decided to turn their high school job into a business.

“I wanted to work for a big consulting firm in DC – a little different than landscaping,” said Andersen. “We tried to find a silver lining in an otherwise dire situation.”

“I wanted to work in a think tank and honestly, I’m not too excited that I ended up in landscaping,” said Dierkes.

The two built their customer base on Nextdoor and traded with other lawn care companies in the area. Starting with the tools and equipment Dierkes’ parents kept in a shed, they soon made enough money to buy their own equipment.

Your hard work has paid off. Now in its second year, Lawn Barbers offers all kinds of lawn care services – from general yard maintenance to weed control to landscaping – and their company was voted one of the top three lawn care companies in the Arlies last week.

They say their bond is the key to their success. The friends, both 22 years old, met in Westover Baptist Church preschool and attended elementary school, high school, and college together. Both studied with William and Mary.

“We have known each other almost all of our lives,” says Dierkes.

“It’s pretty crazy, Steve,” added Andersen.

The two draw friendship from almost two decades and joke around while their hands are deep in the weeds. They say customers respond well to their positivity and energy.

“What could be nicer than having two boys on the lawn at 100 degrees and having fun?” Said Andersen. “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything I enjoy as much as waking up to do this with Steve.”

Their friendship has helped them through difficult times: long hours, laborious work, and the occasional argument. Once they moved over 10,000 pounds of stones in wheelbarrows to create a drainage solution and pulled up 500 to 1,000 square feet of English ivy.

“That was pretty brutal,” said Andersen. “I had to mow a lawn with snakes in it and weeds up to my shoulders.”

For a job, the two climbed a steep hill from which they could see all the houses in the neighborhood.

“It made a great picture,” said Dierkes.

The work gave them a different look at Arlington: one through the eyes of people who have been here for decades and have seen the community grow and change. Completing projects near the schools they attended, Tuckahoe Elementary School and Yorktown High School, reminds them of how they did the same thing.

Although Dierkes and Andersen can now call themselves an award-winning lawn care duo, Dierkes and Andersen are swapping their mowers for desk and office jobs at the end of the summer. Looking ahead, the partners say their experience will make them better employees and people.

“There are many life lessons from doing things that others consider to be elementary work,” said Andersen.

“I think working in landscaping and working in the summer really teaches you to be resilient and persistent,” said Dierkes. “Gavin and I couldn’t just quit after six hours. You had to do the job. “

Dierkes is now in Pittsburgh working at a startup, and Andersen is still a consultant in the DC space but they refuse to go out of business. They say they will be available for work during the holidays and will be in Arlington at other times.

“I’m not [expletive] go, ”Dierkes said, adding that he missed Arlington and its lawn care partnership. “It’s like that cheesy Dr. Seuss line: ‘It’s not goodbye, it’s just see you later.'”

Andersen agreed.

“The hair salon is open forever,” he said.