Beautifying your yard

David Alaways

Photo by Mason Masis

According to David Alaways, owner and operator of Focal Point Discount Landscaping Supplies and Services, everybody is born with a gift. Unfortunately—his words—Alaways’ gift was being born knowing where to “place a rock.” After 40 years in the landscaping business, Alaways said he was tired of paying an arm and a leg for materials and decided to branch out into selling landscaping supplies. He said the company started out on Craigslist, but now, a few years later, has several major contracts—for example, Focal Point supplied the landscaping materials used to beautify the outside of Chico State’s new arts and humanities building. Alaways, who lives in Chico, said he mostly steers clear of landscaping nowadays, but is ready to get his hands dirty when a yard needs his particular feng shui skills. Last year, the company purchased property on the corner of Fair and East 20th streets. Alaways hopes to have a mural of historic Chico buildings and people painted there. Check out his website,, to learn more.

Why did you start this business?

I was sick of getting gouged. And now I’ve got my profit margin as low as I can go, and I’m saving people lots of money. On a minor job, I can save you hundreds of dollars. On a big job, I can save you thousands … My perspective is, and always has been, do a whole bunch and make a little bit off of everybody. Then they are all your friends.

How has the drought affected your business?

Ten to 20 years ago, I mowed more lawns for Chico residences than anybody in town. That’s how I made my living for a long, long time. I took care of all the Chico old-timers’ houses. It saddened me, almost, when I went to a client this morning and said, “It’s about time we get rid of your front lawn. You’re not using it; there’s no reason for it.”

How much does it usually cost to uproot a lawn?

With rebates, you can rip out a yard and put it back in for free. Or you can have somebody else do it, if they aren’t ripping you off. Get somebody who knows what they are doing, somebody with a gift.

Do you have to be an artist to be a landscaper?

In the design or install, somebody [has to be]. Otherwise it just doesn’t look right. You can take all these rocks and spread them out in your yard and your neighbors will be upset. I always tell everybody I’m not a landscaper; I’m a landscape artist. A lot of times when I’m doing somebody’s yard … I show up with 100 buckets full of every kind of rock and I tell them, “Those aren’t buckets of rocks; that’s all paint, and I’m going to paint your yard.”

—Mason Masis