Eco-Yards started when chemical sensitivities hindered my ability to do consulting work, which was my previous career. I had so much pent up energy that I started offering to re-do my friends yards to keep myself sane. Landscaping had already been long-time hobby of mine, providing me with balance from my people-oriented work. Gardening and designing helped me heal. Eco-Yards kept me focused on beauty and something I loved.
It didn’t take long before friends started suggesting I start my own landscaping business. Having already run business in the past, I decided to give it a try. I put a notice in the Open for Business section of the Calgary Herald and went from there. My customers were, and still are, drawn to my use of Feng Shui in my designs.
One winter, as I was wondering what more I could do for the state of the global environment, I went to a talk about compost tea. I learned that the soils of the world had lost so much organic matter through the use of chemicals and tilling. I also learned about making a liquid tea of concentrated soil micro-organisms. It is the fastest, easiest, least expensive way to restore soils. Sold on the importance, I had decided to offer a compost tea spray service for urban yards. While it was a widely used agriculture practice, it was rarely done in urban settings at the time.
I took courses in making compost tea and learning to use the microscope to evaluate the quality of microbes in compost and compost tea. Working with experts across North America, and my Dad – a chemical engineer who had designed gas plants – I designed the tea brewer equipment and the spray equipment. I tested 7 of the commercial compost sources in Calgary and tested my own worm compost and yard compost. I then developed a compost mix that had the best variety and numbers of micro-organisms to make the tea.
With my crew, I keep experimenting with new and better ways to do sustainable landscaping. For example, Eco-yards has been pioneering using newspaper to cover lawns, building rock rivers that help water soak into yards, and using weeping tile under the soil to distribute water. We also have been taking training with the International Concrete Pavers Institute to improve our brick and flagstone patios and brick and rock wall skills.