Clean Air using solar panels to charge batteries for electric lawn mowers.
March 13, 2012
By Rita Cook
While lawn care might seem just another task that has to be done come spring, there is one Carrollton man, Rick Hauser, who makes it his job to not only take care of lawns, but to keep it green too.
Employing four full-time workers during the growing season and one full-time and one part-time worker during the off season, in 2010 Hauser’s Clean Air Lawn Care serviced 75 customers, which he notes, was up 106 percent from the end of 2009.
Some of the standout sustainable services Clean Air Lawn Care offers its customers include using solar and wind powered equipment charged from solar charging systems on their trucks during the day and wind power in the shop at night and using a mowing method that includes cutting grass longer than most services allow, which Hauser says has several benefits. For example, there is more grass blade surface area for photosynthesis to occur and longer grass can suppress weeds as well.
“Once the grass adapts to growing longer, it will fill in and become more dense, which will choke out weeds that can invade grass that is too short, weak and stressed by not allowing the weeds the sunshine they need to germinate at the soil level,” Hauser explains.
Hauser says too that the longer, dense grass also retains water better, which makes it more tolerant of drought stress and infrequent watering. Very important for water restrictions in the Dallas area.
“Water restrictions are also another reason to switch to an all organic soil treatment program instead of a chemical fertilizer program,” he adds.
Clean Air Lawn Care also practices grasscycling, which is mulching grass clippings back into the lawn leaving more organic matter on the lawn, which helps to build the soil’s organic matter creating a free form of fertilizing where the natural nitrogen in the grass helps to fertilize the soil.
“We never leave plastic bags of leaves or grass clippings at customer sites where they will be taken to a landfill either,” Hauser says. “In cities where yard waste is collected and taken to the landfill we take the debris with us and make sure it is delivered to a compost/recycle center and not filling up our landfills. In cities who have compost pickup services we leave the leaves and grass clippings in paper yard waste bags so those services can collect.”
Hauser’s company also offers all an organic soil treatment program instead of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
“With upcoming water restrictions in the near future for the Dallas area, this is one of the best things you can do to prepare your lawn to be more drought tolerant in anticipation of tighter water restrictions coming soon,” he says. “Start now and switch to an all organic program. Lawns going through an intervention from chemicals to organics need time to adjust.”
In 2010, Hauser says Clean Air Lawn Care locally reduced 6,856 pounds of air pollution in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which is equivalent to 210,000 vehicle miles. His company locally also reduced 8,400 pounds of chemical fertilizer in the area in 2010 replacing chemical fertilizer programs with our all organic treatments.
“We teach our customers about proper watering practices and needs as well,” Hauser explains about his company practices. “Making sure they get the most out of the water they pay to irrigate the lawn with.”
Hauser suggests that a homeowner do all the watering in the early morning hours from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. so less water is lost due to evaporation.
“Don’t worry about the false concept that watering at night causes lawn disease, after all, it rains at night,” he adds.
Clean Air Lawn Care also offers on-site compost management service for homeowners who want to divert more of their food waste from the landfills, but aren’t interested in maintaining the compost bin themselves.
“They like the idea of the waste savings, the benefits of having great compost material to use in their flower beds, pots and gardens but don’t really have the time or interest in the work involved to maintain a bin,” he says. “It’s simple, we provide a convenient bin for you to collect your compostable food waste like fruits and veggies and we do the rest, visiting at regular intervals to empty and clean the food waste container and mix and maintain the compost bin with carbon material to create a rich compost within a few weeks that you can use at home in beds, planters and gardens.”
Other sustainable practices Hauser’s company offers include:
- Carbon credit offsets purchased through CarbonFund.org for the miles they travel in low emissions Tacoma trucks;
- Carbon credit offsets purchased for all business travel and any non-wind powered electricity charges as well;
- They use only recycled materials for marketing pieces;
- Patagonia clothing and Keen footwear are partners for worker’s uniforms and boots;
- They recycle all used batteries properly.
“Now that our crews have been using our clean, quiet equipment for three seasons it’s amazing to hear and smell the difference when we happen to be working next door to a crew using traditional gas equipment,” Hauser says. “The first thing you notice is the noise. Then comes the smell. It is very noticeable once a little of their emissions drift over to the yard we’re working on.”
Hauser says that many times his crew will begin a lawn when another crew is leaving the property next door and they can still smell the gas and pollution 30 minutes after they’ve left on calm days.
“This really hits home for me and my guys for why we’re committed to a cleaner way to maintain your lawn,” Hauser concludes. “Even though the smell knocks us down, it reminds us of why we do what we do.”
For more information visit www.cleanairlawncare.com.
Rita Cook is a freelance writer who has worked as a special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News and other major publications.