In the late 80’s and early ’90s when I began my career, the green industry was all about repeated seasonal blanket applications of pesticides to control “insect pests.” When I worked as an arborist/applicator, my job card stated: “make application of (insert synthetic pesticides here) to kill leaf chewing and sucking insects.” This approach never “fixed” a pest or disease problem and, in many cases, only exacerbated the issue, leading to yet another synthetic application. When I began our company Richard A. McCoy Horticultural Services Inc., in 1995, our approach was similar to current IPM practices. Our designs featured ten percent native plant species at best, with very little to no attention paid to soil biology or ecology. At that time, our lawn applications mirrored most common synthetic programs.
However, in 2005, after consuming volumes of information from pioneer scientists and conservationists like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward O. Wilson, and Doug Tallamy, we learned the importance of caring for ecosystems that support human life, and decided to transition from traditional landscape practices that negatively impact the Earth to organic and ecological land care. After years of traditional methods, we also realized that these ecosystems are amazingly resilient.
Unfortunately, this resiliency breeds complacency in the green industry. Because the Earth’s ability to repair damage caused by humans, the very delicate balance of nature has (until recently) gone mostly unchecked. At this point, countless numbers of these life-giving creatures are at or beyond a critical tipping point in the lifecycle of our planet, whether it’s the very publicized Monarch Butterfly decline, the visible loss in avian species, or the uncounted extinction of creatures in sink habitats. From the tiny microscopic organisms in our soil to large megafauna, all species are interconnected and we can ill afford to lose more animal, plant, or insect species at the hand of humans.
Like many companies, we were set in our ways; the new land care methodology was not easy to adopt and put into practice. However, we knew the direction was right, and we dedicated ourselves to learning and teaching others about organic and ecological practices. In our company, all living creatures are considered valuable to the ecosystems we live in and build on our client’s properties. Everything we do for our clients is done with the very deliberate intention of building ecosystem services and doing our part to heal the Earth.
From 2005 to 2021 and beyond, our mission is to be a company that positively interacts and beneficially impacts the Earth. We plant ninety-five percent native plants (mostly species plants and never invasive) which has turned our clients’ properties into pollinator hotspots, our turf systems are almost entirely organic (except for a bio-herbicide applications for broadleaf weed control and never synthetic), and our green infrastructure program has infiltrated millions of gallons of stormwater back into our aquifers via rain gardens. Most recently, we are converting from combustion engines to all solar, battery-powered lawn and garden maintenance equipment. Our daily focus revolves around land stewardship that is positive for Earth and all her inhabitants.
Written by Richard A. McCoy
Earth Day 2021