Women in landscape: Charlene Farley Chacon Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Monday, January 10, 2022 04:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

As a senior in high school, Charlene Farley Chacon (Residential construction team manager, Designscapes Colorado) worked as an interior landscape technician in office buildings. The following year her sister, who was working at an outdoor garden center, encouraged her to apply. She remained at the garden center for seven years, working seasonally during college at CSU, and on weekends during her first years at Designscapes Colorado. Both she and her sister studied horticulture at CSU. Chacon met Phil Steinhauer, CEO at Designscapes Colorado, at a CSU career fair and she has worked at the company since then—20 years.

Her thoughts on her career experience:

Gender disparity

I have not personally experienced gender-related challenges though I hear other women expressing them. My dad mostly raised my sister and I and gave us ‘you can do it’ encouragement. We were tomboyish and being girls was never a limitation. When we worked at the garden center, we weren’t treated differently. Our manager taught us to drive the forklift so we could help unload pallets. He helped develop my perception of myself and what I could do—basically whatever the guys were doing. I accept that I am not as strong as many men and I am willing to ask for help. But I don’t think of it as a limitation. I’m smart and resourceful and have the confidence to do things, try things and ask.

I don’t see the gender disparity but I don’t look for it either. Since I’ve been at Designscapes Colorado, more women have come on board in many different positions including administration, management, sales and on work crews. I see women all over in the company. Our company has worked hard to be inclusive and sensitive to different needs of women especially on work crews. There needs to be an inclusion of more bathroom breaks with women on crews.


Phil has been an incredible coach/mentor/friend/advisor/peer/ boss—all if it. He has always pushed me out my comfort zone to do more, achieve more. I have had the opportunity to work closely with him on a daily basis and learned from his education, what he does and his heart. My dad, my grandfather and our boss at the garden center were all strong influences. Men have been the strongest mentors in my life but I have also worked for some incredible women at Designscapes Colorado. A general manager took me under her wing and cared for my success. Several of the women at Designscapes Colorado, ALCC and friends from CSU in the industry have been very supportive.


I welcome women to the industry. The sky’s the limit. There are so many pathways in this industry. You can start in one position and create your own path based on your interests—plant track, irrigation, management and so on. My advice is to come aboard and be confident and open to learning. There are people in this industry who want you to succeed. There are so many opportunities for training, education and networking. The industry is close-knit and there are friendships across companies. If one company isn’t the right fit, there’s another company that would love to have you on board. There are women’s groups in the industry. Don’t be scared of the landscape industry!

Benefits of women in the industry

I think it’s in the nature of women, how they’re programmed, to want to help. I know I reach out to other women who work for vendors, partners or subcontractors when I have a problem. Women have a framework of women we can rely on. Women tend to carry the role of caretaker for children or parents or those who are sick. Women understand that. They are willing to talk about it and are patient and forgiving when duties for caring for others may affect a timeline. So, that’s an advantage of women in the industry. It’s not all money, not all business. There’s a more humane, family, love, and friendship piece to it—a softer side the women bring. Everyone, man or woman, has something to contribute that is beneficial. But women have a different approach and mindset, whether it’s the softer, heart side, or the fierce determination to prove to people what they can do. Women bring a lot of passion, motivation and perseverance to the industry.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green Now:
Women in landscape: Jessi Burg
Women in landscape - Kristina Smith-Becker
Women in landscape: Leann Ostheimer
Women in landscape 2021: Part 2


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