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Zach Heitzman started his college education in horticulture, but switched gears and became a landscape architect. He now taps both interests with his own firm, Green Bean Landscapes.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to own my own business and set my own destiny. I grew up loving the outdoors and knew that I wanted to have a career in landscaping or landscape architecture,” Heitzman said.

“It’s everything I love wrapped up into one fruitful career. I have professional licensure that’s on par with an engineer and it’s become more important to have a landscape architect involved in projects, like those in Ankeny where a community is looking for best-management practices.”

Water quality also is becoming an important issue for clients, he said.

“For example, instead of running water from the street into a pipe to a stream, we look for ways to take the water from the road, channel it into a vegetable swale that removes the nutrients, oils and heavy metals from the roadway and flushes the water before it hits the streams and waterways. That’s being done on the coasts, but not as much in Iowa yet.”

After working almost 10 years for others, Heitzman said something was missing — he wanted to dig in the dirt.

“So I opened my own business where I could be involved in all aspects,” he said. “Business has been great so far — it’s all been from word of mouth. I’ve been very fortunate to do some pretty cool projects for people.”

Heitzman spoke with The Ankeny Register & Press Citizen about his business.

Who are the customers for your services?

I work with both residential and commercial customers. A significant part of the business also is working with architects and civil engineers. Since I am licensed, they utilize me to produce landscape plans that require a landscape architect’s stamp.

I also can do renderings. For example, if a civil engineer is developing a property with 150 homes, they would need something to show to their investors, a flashy graphic to present the idea showing where the homes, parks, natural drainage areas, streams, and commercial and business districts are at. I can produce those graphics, either by hand or digitally.

How can you help with a project?

People consider me a landscaper, but I am a licensed landscape architect — I can handle a project from start to finish. I will meet with a customer, come up with a design or if they know what they already want, then I’ll offer them a bid. Once we have a project, my crew and I will build it.

What types of projects have you tackled?

Curb appeal, erosion control, water drainage, hardscapes (walls, patios, stairs, walkways), waterscapes (ponds, streams, waterfalls), plantings and general landscape architecture.

What projects do you enjoy working on?

I enjoy working on problem sites, the projects that maybe have a drainage issue or erosion issue, for example. I can pull together my experience from being a landscape architect and my previous work experience for a civil engineering firm. I also enjoy projects where I can incorporate a cultural or artistic component to create something unique and particular to that landscape and for the client.