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January 20, 2018 / 5:50 am EST


In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes
In Harmony Sustainable LandscapesOct 27, 2013
Work With Nature – Not Against It

Does it seem like trying to maintain and grow your yard and gardens is more like fighting a war than engaging in a hobby? If so, you probably understand that in many ways, you're fighting a losing battle against the pests and diseases that are attempting to overtake your gardening efforts. It's not just you – the reputable landscaping companies and gardening product companies are fighting (and losing) the same war, as they rely on pesticides and chemicals to eradicate common gardening and yard care problems. Each time a product loses its effectiveness, they simply create a newer, more powerful product, because the old one simply doesn't work anymore. What are the costs of this approach to our environment, our animals, and ourselves? Isn't there a better way?

The Tacoma, WA area's In Harmony Sustainable Landscape was formed because co-founders Mark Gile and Ladd Smith knew there was a better way. They had done their time working for traditional landscaping companies, and discovered that the traditional methods were harming the soil, the most important component of a healthy landscape and garden. Plus, exposure to all those pesticides and chemicals was taking a toll on the land, the beneficial creatures who lived on it, pets, families, and the workers who were forced to use them! A better way did exist, and Mark and Ladd knew just how to create it: they formed their own organic landscaping company in 1994, before the boom in green design and products had fully hit. In the almost two decades that In Harmony has been in business, they have shown that they were definitely on to something, even though there were many doubters in the beginning. It turns out organic landscape design is better for people and planet, plus it's a viable way to earn a living and even saves clients money over time.

The foundation of the In Harmony philosophy is that no garden or yard can grow and be healthy without proper soil. Bad soil creates weak plantings that can't stand up to bugs or disease. Throwing pesticides at the plants themselves won't get to the “root” of the problem . . . that the plants are rooted in nutrient-depleted soil. In Harmony aims to first balance and prepare the soil, then help clients maintain the healthy soil with a beneficial combination of nutrients, organic fertilizer, fungi, and compost.

Once In Harmony has tested your soil and determined how to bring it to optimal health, they provide design, installation and maintenance services that give clients beautiful yards and landscapes that are also healthier for the people who live with them and the pets, bugs and animals who coexist on those landscapes. Their services include a combination of the right plantings, hard elements such as wood and stone, lighting, water and irrigation systems, plus integrating sustainability measures like recycled materials, sustainable wood, and environmentally friendly mulch.

Some people think that having a professionally landscaped yard means golf-course green mowing and perfectly trimmed and maintained bushes and shrubs. However, this type of landscape isn't natural, or healthy. In Harmony's designs are beautiful and healthy, but there are some key differences that come with an organic lawn care approach. Based on the area where a client is located in and the plantings and soil that already exist, the approach might include leaving a lawn longer than normal, leaving clippings, and welcoming beneficial bugs. Weed control is done with a corn gluten meal, not harsh chemicals. Sometimes the company will recommend the yard be watered less frequently but more thouroughly for better landscape health. All of these measures taken together will help give clients the unique, healthy and lasting landscapes they are looking for.

In Harmony's business practices are also sustainable, showing that the company takes their environmental focus seriously. The company's trucks are fueled with biodiesel. When incorporating features into a landscape design, the company relies on recycled or reclaimed materials and wood from sustainable forests. If you're located in the Puget Sound region and would like to turn your home's outdoor environment into a backyard oasis, In Harmony Sustainable Landscapes can help you design your dream yard or garden – from the soil up.


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