Landscaping company strives to be more eco-friendly
WILLMAR -- Dave Monson, owner of Monson Landscaping and Excavating in Kandiyohi and Willmar, has been in the landscaping business for 10 years. Recently, though, he's made the transition to a more environmentally friendly business model.
Last fall, Monson received a BeeSafe applicator certification from Natural Technologies Inc., based in New Hampshire. BeeSafe is an "alternative to standard lawn program practices," Monson said.
The BeeSafe Organic Lawn Management Program uses organic and natural products, rather than chemicals and pesticides, to treat lawns.
There are several benefits to using organic products in lawn care, Monson said. For families with children and pets, the health benefits alone can be worth it. According to research cited by the BeeSafe company, pesticides and synthetic chemicals have been linked to fetal deaths, neuroblastoma in young children and certain types of cancers.
"If small kids are experiencing headaches or sore throats that can't be explained, it could be because of those synthetic chemicals," Monson said. "Many times, chemicals are overapplied. If pets are rolling around in the yard, they can easily bring those into the house. One thing parents can control is what goes into their yards."
Chemical products can also create problems around lakes and waterways. Many phosphorous and nitrogen applications have now been banned in lawn fertilizers, Monson said, because the runoff from yards can pollute waterways and create algae blooms around lakes.
"In Minnesota especially, switching to organic products is something simple that people can do to make a difference," Monson said.
Using chemical-free lawn care also improves the soil of a lawn, rather than simply treating a problem, Monson said. A standard lawn care plan will treat weeds, for example, but won't treat the biological aspect of the soil.
"With chemicals, soil is either killed or ignored," Monson said. "A synthetic product is much like a Band-Aid. The BeeSafe program is about creating healthy soil to grow a healthier root system and healthier grass. You're basically creating soil to be self-sufficient."
One way the program creates healthy soil is by injecting certain beneficial organisms into the soil. Whereas chemicals eliminate both harmful and beneficial insects, organic turf does not require preventative insect controls, Monson said.
The BeeSafe program also has products available to treat weeds and crabgrass, a common concern among people looking to make the switch to organic.
"There is a misconception about organic products and weed control," Monson said. "They have now developed organic fertilizers that will be weed preventative."
This summer will be the first year that Monson uses the BeeSafe technology. He's currently the only BeeSafe-certified applicator in Minnesota, according to the company's website.
Aside from the BeeSafe organic landscaping, Monson also became a Porous Pave supplier last year. Porous Pave is a paving product made from recycled tires, rather than traditional concrete or asphalt.
Monson decided to add Porous Pave into his landscaping company because of its flexibility and durability, especially in northern climates. Specifically, it is nearly 30 percent porous, which makes it a good product for storm-water management.
"It's one of the most porous products on the market," he said. "It's not a concrete product, so it has that flexibility for the winters we have in Minnesota. It allows less salt to soak through the material and won't refreeze. That's what originally piqued my interest: It has so many different uses."
The Porous Pave product can be used in trails, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, play areas, patios, water features and even golf courses.
Currently, Monson is the only landscaper certified through the Porous Pave company in west central Minnesota, he said, and there's only a handful in Minnesota overall. He does jobs throughout the region, in about an hour and a half radius around Willmar.
"It's really starting to catch on," Monson said. "We're looking at a lot of jobs now."
Monson said that in general, people are becoming more environmentally conscious about what goes into their lawns and outdoor areas. He expects his business to keep growing, especially as people continue to be educated about the overall benefits of organic lawn care and other green products.
"BeeSafe and Porous Pave are what make us different from other companies," Monson said. "We're not just a one-dimensional company. We've got our specialties, and we've essentially rebranded ourselves to be an eco-friendly landscape company."