Longtime local family business moves back to its roots

Lyngso Garden Supply moving to San Carlos

As Theresa Lyngso was driving her mother, Mary Lyngso, to her home in Belmont recently they began noticing something they recognized on property after property they passed -- stone from their family business, Lyngso Garden Materials.

"I recognized it," Mary Lyngso said.

In the more than 60 years since John and Mary Lyngso started the company in the early 1950s, Lyngso has sold a lot of stone to Peninsula residents. The company sells not only stone -- from tiny pebbles to giant boulders -- but everything landscape related: organic compost, paving materials, garden ornaments, soil, mulch and construction materials.

John and Mary, who are now 87 and 85, are both long retired, but Terry Lyngso is the company president; daughter Linda Lyngso is vice president; and daughter Pam Parkinson is the company secretary. Even a third generation is involved: Pam's daughter, Natalie Parkinson, works at the sales counter.

Even though they're retired, the elder Lyngsos have been working hard lately, helping to plan the company's move from its current location on Seaport Boulevard, just off U.S. 101 in Redwood City, to 345 Shoreway Road, east of 101 in San Carlos. The new location is just a few blocks from where Lyngso got its start, on Holly Street in San Carlos.

The business is moving because the family decided, with all the changes going on in Redwood City, it was the right time to sell the property, which they will do after the move, and buy a new property in San Carlos.

While the company is moving only three miles north, much will change. The new Lyngso yard will have three separate areas: one for those who want to bag their own garden materials, such as gravel, mulch and potting soil; an area for materials such as flagstone that are on pallets and have to be moved by forklift; and an area for the trucks filling up with tons of the same materials from giant bins.

Also, there will be more parking than in the current location.

John Lyngso said he got started in the business when he discovered, almost by accident, that there was a market for different types of gravel. He had been doing excavation work at the many new construction sites on the Peninsula, and selling topsoil from the excavations to those putting in landscaping, when a friend asked him to pick up a load of interestingly colored gravel from Colfax, California. Everyone who saw the gravel wanted some, and a business was born.

At first John and Mary Lyngso ran the business, she in the office and he everywhere else, with just one helper. It was the type of company where the stone mixes were named after the owners' daughters, including Terry Beach (no longer available), Pami Pebbles and Lin Creek.

The company moved to Redwood City in 1970, and by the time John Lyngso retired in the early 1980s, it had grown to 19 employees.

John Lyngso said he initially didn't have much confidence in his eldest daughter's ability to run the business, despite the fact that Terry had "been inside the (concrete) mixer with a little jackhammer" and up to the top of the silo that used to hold pre-mixed concrete. "I gave her two years before she bankrupted it," he admitted.

Instead, under Terry Lyngso, who lived in Woodside until moving to Loma Mar a few years ago, the business took off. It now has more than 50 employees, offers weekend classes and clinics in everything from building stone walls to organic fertilizers, and is a resource for materials and information on organic and drought-tolerant gardening.

The new Lyngso building will be twice the size of the current building, with a dedicated classroom (instead of the current space carved out of the warehouse) and a sound-proofed shop.

"We're going to have a nice display garden," Terry Lyngso said. The garden will have walls and walkways made from stone carried by Lyngso, including forms of pervious paving that let rainwater seep into the ground instead of running off. They will have their own bio-retention area, where storm water from the property will be able to seep back into the groundwater supply instead of going into the storm drains.

The family is also excited about a soil mixing machine that will allow Lyngso to easily put together soil mixes customized to a customer's needs using a conveyer belt connected to hoppers with variable speed motors.

The company also will be able to show off alternatives to lawns that customers have recently been looking for.

While she has "loved being in Redwood City," Terry Lyngso said she is looking forward to returning to San Carlos. "I think it's going to be a good home."

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6 people like this
Posted by Danna
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm

it is very exciting that the Lyngso campus is moving and that the new facility will still be available to serve and mentor the public. Terry and the Lyngso family have changed the way we look at soil, growing food, gardening and ultimately how we care for the earth and planet. I share my deep respect and appreciation and excitement for the family and this rich wonderful business moving forward. I bet this venture is going to bring generations to come more reverence and attentionnot just where we live. But how we live. Well done Lyngsos!

2 people like this
Posted by James Carr
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm

My memory is getting rusty but I seem to remember Lyngso being on Terminal Way at the corner of Bayport in San Calos before they moved to RC. A beautiful multi unit industrial building was built on their lot. I don't remember anything on Holly St. Am I right, or wrong?

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