Monday, August 09, 2010

Barefoot Green Ecoscaping

A fellow classmate of mine from Sheffield, Alabama, Glenn DiNella has launched a new eco-friendly lawn and garden service, Barefoot Green Ecoscaping, that addresses several of the environmental problems he’s seen over the last 18 years he’s spent as a landscape supervisor, garden designer, and garden editor for publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living, and most recently a landscape trade magazine entitled Total Landscape Care.

Following is an article by Glenn about his innovative company that has set up shop in Hoover, Alabama. Please check out this informative article, and more importantly, if you are searching for a lawn and garden service that is environmentally sensitive - contact Barefoot Green Ecoscaping at 205/616-2924 or


You might think that small, gas-power push mower cutting swaths across your yard doesn’t emit a lot of pollution, but when you multiply it by 44 million—the number of gas mowers the EPA estimates are in use in the U.S. —and you have a serious air quality issue, especially in urban areas such as Birmingham that are already struggling. Older mowers are particularly bad for the environment. Bill Becker, the executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies estimates running a typical 3.5 hp gas mower not equipped with a catalytic converter creates as much pollution as driving a newer sedan from Washington D.C. to Boston.

I have a battery-powered push mower that will run for about 2 hours per charge. I admit I have to plug it in and charge it and pay Alabama Power for that, but it’s still producing a lot less air pollution and also less noise pollution than a gas mower. For smaller yards, I even use an old-fashion push reel mower that works great, gives a cleaner cut, and of course emits no pollution and is whisper quiet. Plus it’s great exercise. I have my sights set on purchasing a self-propelled propane-powered push mower that should be available in Alabama this summer. I already own a propane-power string trimmer and think I just purchased the first propane blower in Alabama.

According to the California-based LEHR Company that manufactures a line of propane-power mowers, string trimmers, and blowers, gasoline-fueled lawn equipment produces up to 30 times more hydrocarbons than a typical automobile emits in an hour. Propane equipment is also quieter, which is appealing to many hospitals, doctors’ offices, churches, and retirement homes, as well as average homeowners looking for a little peace and quiet.

Running on propane means equipment lasts longer. The gas/oil mixtures in many string trimmers and blowers turn to sludge and shellac inside your engine when they sit for long periods. Propane does not. Gallon for gallon propane might cost more than gas, but propane burns more efficiently, so it’s more economical. According to Bernardo Herzer, president of LEHR, 30 percent of the fuel from a 2-stroke motor goes out the tailpipe unburned. So people are breathing those particulates and that leads to various health problems, especially for lawn care operators who are using this equipment all day long every day. The 2-stroke models with gas and oil mixed in the tank are loud and have a lot more particulates. Propane equipment uses a 4-stroke engine like a car, where the oil and gas are separate and these models are inherently quieter and burn less oil. Also it doesn’t deplete the ozone. The American Lung Association is teaming up with LEHR because they see the benefits of propane. Herzer reports propane equipment produces 97 percent less particulates and 96 percent less carcinogens than gas. The only negatives I’ve found are propane is not available on every street corner, propane equipment costs a little more because you’re paying for new technology, and you lose a small percentage of horsepower, but for 99 percent of the jobs people are doing that’s insignificant.

The EPA estimates 17 million gallons of gas are spilled every year by people filling up their lawn equipment. Propane is in sealed containers, so there is no evaporation, no spills, and it doesn’t seep into underground aquifers like spilled gas and oil. About 80 percent of propane is produced in the U.S. and another 10-15 percent comes from Canada, so running on propane can reduce our dependency on foreign fuel.

I also offer integrated pest management, organic soil amendments, and organic weed control. There is a preemergent weed control product made from corn gluten I started using that is completely safe for people and pets. We need to think about our kids running around barefoot and rolling on the lawn and what chemicals they’re absorbing and breathing. A lot of veterinarians think lawn chemicals are linked to cancers and other health problems in pets because dogs and cats spend so much time so close to the grass.

I think too many lawn care companies are focused on how fast they can mow, blow, and go, so they don’t want to give up 1 or 2 miles per hour with a propane mower or spend time figuring out the least toxic way to get rid of pests. But I’m focused on doing the work better, not faster. I’m also focused on making the world a better place for our kids—one yard at a time.

To sign up for DiNella’s lawn and garden service, Barefoot Green Ecoscaping, contact him at 205/616-2924 or

No comments: