Landscapers and landscape architects come in many varieties, but more and more of them are going “green” – by designing ecologically friendly, environmentally sound and sustainable lawns, gardens and yards. Drawing from the experiences of organic farmers, these landscapers have developed designs that limit or avoid the use of chemicals and chemical fertilizers, and require less watering. They also encourage the use of recycled materials and “companion planting” techniques. Here are just a pair of such green landscapers in Connecticut, along with some advice for do-it-yourselfers who want to emulate their eco-friendly style.
Making Your Garden, Lawn and Grounds “Greener”
Making a garden, lawn or grounds “green” is not just about planting crops, grass and bushes. There is much more to it than flora and fauna. Selecting the right plants and ground cover, working to keep water usage down and eschewing the use of chemicals, chemical fertilizers and pesticides are a big part of green landscaping. Composting and “companion planting” – interspersing certain herbs that ward off bugs and predators – are just two of the key methods that organic gardeners employ to reduce or eliminate the need for nasty chemicals. The use of stone, mulch and timber to build beds that retain moisture and nutrients while keeping out weeds are valuable concepts to keep in mind when planning for a greener yard. Use of recycled granite, rail ties and mulch/compost created by town recycling programs also helps green up the garden.
Companion Planting: Plants Need Friends Too
A yard or garden is an eco-system, and knowing what plants support each other – and which battle each other – is important. The wrong choice can turn a yard into a war zone – and one where no amount of fertilizers, water, pesticides or labor can make it prosper, let alone be green.
Knowing the type of soil is the first step to choosing the right plants. Oak and pine trees create an acidic soil, and azaleas, mountain laurel and certain types of berry bushes work well in that environment. Alders and some legumes capture nitrogen and enrich the soil with natural fertilizers. There are flowers, notably marigolds, which repel bad insects, and other plants, like carrots and parsley, that attract the good bugs (praying mantises, ladybugs) that eat the bad ones. Garlic, onions and dill also repel certain pests. The Farmer’s Almanac is one good source for information about companion planting, as are any local high schools with Ag Programs (Housatonic Valley Regional High School in the Northwest Corner for example) or, of course, a “green” landscaper, such as one of the two noted below.
Madison Earth Care
“Garden Rescue” is one of the green services offered by Madison Earth Care, a green landscaping firm founded and owned by Bob Blundon. That service, as he says, “is designed to bring gardens and landscaping back to life” – and in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. Blundon’s commitment to being green goes beyond being organic; he replaced his old gas-powered equipment with battery-powered gear, for which he generates electricity through solar panels on a 30-foot trailer with charging stations. His electric trimmers, blowers and other equipment not only saves energy – they also reduce noise pollution as they are only a fifth as loud as traditional gas-powered machines.
Madison Earth Care’s commitment to cutting down pollution in lawn and garden care is only part of how it went green. In addition to this green maintenance, it also designs and creates green landscapes – offering “green gardening alternatives” and ecologically friendly lawn and yard designs. Blundon was born and grew up on the shore in Madison, and his family has been in the business for over 40 years – so he knows the difference between traditional landscaping and green landscaping, and says going green is the right thing to do not just for the environment, but also for his bottom line. For one thing, his employees spend much less time at or going to gas stations, and while the solar trailer required an investment up-front, it is one that is already saving him on energy and employee costs.
Team Green Eco-Friendly Landscapers
“Where being naturally green is truly not a gimmick,” is one of the many mottos of Team Green Eco-Friendly Landscapers, a company co-owned by John Ryder and Mark Lawrie III. “Good people doing great things” is another of their sayings, and that applies not only to their landscaping business but also to their involvement in the community. Ryder and Lawrie have run plant sales to raise funds for a wildlife rehabilitation project and have donated materials and services for Earth Day clean-ups.
Team Green, however, is not a charitable organization. It is a business, and one that promotes organic gardening and landscaping without the use of chemicals, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The company even plan its designs with a view to curtailing equipment use to a minimum, thus reducing emissions and energy usage. From unique “Specialty Gardens” to “Landscape Makeovers,” Team Green creates sustainable, low-maintenance, ecologically and environmentally sound designs that, as the second half of its name proudly proclaims, are truly eco-friendly.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.