Landcaper Wants Your Lawn to Be Even 'Greener'
Bristol resident Tim Brown has started an organic lawn and landscape business.
When Tim Brown graduated from RISD with a Masters in Landscape Architecture he likely didn’t anticipate how much environmental education he’d ultimately end up doing.
After graduation, Brown worked for architecture firms in Boston and California on large-scale projects such as designing parks and plazas to planning public spaces. After he got laid off however, Brown choose to take a more hands on approach to his work. A few months ago he started Garden Green Land Care and Field Work Design, a two-pronged business for landscape maintenance and construction, as well as landscape design.
“Due to the state of the economy I thought there was a need for it,” Brown says.
But instead of taking a more conventional route, Brown decided to focus his area of expertise on organic practices. The confluence of his wife being pregnant and his interest in environmental issues gave him pause about the chemicals traditionally used in lawn and land care. He says studies have shown that chemical fertilizer run-off is damaging to waterways, among other environmental and health hazards.
“The combination of thinking about where the run-off goes, as well as the effect it has on kids, pets and our health in general lead me here,” he says.
Brown says the first step toward eco-friendly lawn and land care is to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers which kill beneficial microorganisms in the soil and cause the lawn to grow rapidly. This, he says, creates a dependency on the chemical fertilizer which is akin to “getting your lawn on steroids.”
Brown advocates instead for the use of organic fertilizers such as compost and natural pest repellents such as nematodes, a parasite that kills hundreds of lawn insects such as grubs, fleas, ticks and biting flies. The microscopic nematodes are applied with a garden spreader and Brown says they are “totally safe for humans and pets."
Cost of organic landscaping is inevitably higher than conventional, though Brown says in the long run it’s more cost effective since the soil needs less nutrient replenishment. The larger issue, he says, is whether having a lawn is necessary at all. In fact, Brown is currently working with a client to remove his lawn and replace it with a meadow, which Brown calls “a dynamic mini eco-system with a cycle of growth and decay.”
“This is a conflict I have in myself,” says Brown. “I can appreciate the way a nice lawn looks, but at the end of the day what ecological value is it? It’s taking up the space that could be used for something much more beautiful and much more valuable to our overall environmental and social well-being.”