The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that watering lawns accounts for 30 to 60 percent of water consumption during the summer months. And the green grass carpet that many Americans idealize as the “perfect lawn” requires pesticide use and fertilizers in enormous amounts. Approximately 70 million tons of fertilizer and 90 million pounds of pesticides are dumped on American lawns each year.
That’s not to say that grass doesn’t serve a purpose. It cleans car exhaust from the air by ingesting carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, and is a perfect place for children to play. But Jesse Hammond and his team at Dancing Iris Earthscapes can ensure that grass is not the entirety of your yard, and that what grass you do have is cared for in an ecologically sound way.
Jesse Hammond started with his father’s landscaping company, New Beginnings. But after the birth of Jesse’s first child, about 11 years ago, his dad announced he was moving to England and asked Jesse to take the reigns. After changing the name over to Dancing Iris Earthscapes, Jesse took the company in a new direction as well.
Being passionate about eco-friendly living, he wanted those values and practices to be at the forefront of his new business. His landscaping approach is centered in sustainability and moves beyond the basics of using organic weed killers and fertilizers. He incorporates Old English and Asian design elements into many of the yards he creates for both aesthetic and functional purposes. The point is to make a yard beautiful without it being a sea of green grass.
Caring hands and a green thumb
His crew does as much work as possible by hand instead of with large gas-guzzling machinery and equipment. While working on a recent project using heavy stonework, his team employed a wooden dolly system to carry large stones through the yard instead of bringing in a utility loader. Adding perennials such as hostas and daylilyies are another sustainable design feature. These can reproduce, and then be reused in other beds year after year (check Jesse’s Winter Green Thumb Tips).[pullquote]
Jesse’s Winter Green Thumb Tips
- Save your leaves. You can chop them up with your lawnmower to use for mulch. Easy, green, and economical. Mulch all garden beds. Mulching helps hold in warmth and moisture. Jesse says it’s “like putting a big ol’ fuzzy blanket on top of the plants.” Cozy plants=happy plants.
- Deadhead your garden. Snip off the dead parts of plants, especially perennials. This will make it easier for new growth to appear in spring.
- Divide your perennials. Now is the best time to dig them up, split the root ball in halves or fourths, and replant them in other areas. The same can be done with bulbs.
- Plant that strawberry patch! Between now and January, depending on the weather, is the best time for planting fruit-bearing bushes and trees.
According to Jesse, “If they don’t make babies, what’s the point of putting them in your yard?”
Organic food is great, and if you are so inclined, home gardens can be a valuable resource. But growing fruits, vegetables and herbs are time consuming and need the care of an experienced hand to properly usher in nature’s bounty. Jesse’s team can create and care for raised beds, and turn a barren backyard into a food-producing oasis. They will often try to include edibles in most aesthetic landscape designs as well. Jesse strongly feels that “flowers are nice, but I want to give my clients more than that… more use of their yards.”
Dancing Iris Earthscapes services the Piedmont Triad and surrounding areas. They do design, garden installation, stonework, water features, edibles, and pond maintenance. As Jesse Hammond says, “We do everything except mowing yards.” For more information or a free estimate of services, call Jesse: 336.970.0086. Or visit facebook.