Boulder entrepreneur John DeFilippi was looking for a new business venture when he stumbled upon a statistic about the effects of lawn care on the environment. Five percent of urban air pollution comes from gas-powered lawn equipment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
John DeFilippi, owner of ecoLogical Lawn Care, stands next to lawn mowers powered by propane and an electric battery. While the company s service costs more than gas-powered mowers, DeFilippi said his equipment runs quieter and is more environmentally friendly. (Photo: Boulder Daily Camera)
"That was shocking to me," DeFilippi said. "When you're going up against automobiles, trucks and manufacturing plants, that's a pretty large figure."
The statistics inspired DeFilippi to find a way to cut grass in an environmentally friendly way.
In April, DeFilippi opened ecoLogical Lawn Care, offering weekly grass cutting, aerating, organic fertilizing, seeding, sprinkler maintenance, cleanups and low-impact landscaping. DeFilippi has about 75 customers, but hopes to build that to 250 by next year.
"One reason why I decided to push forward with this business is, as best as I can tell, there isn't a full-service, lawn and yard, eco-friendly company out there," DeFilippi said.
The mowers and weed trimmers DeFilippi uses are electric-powered for small- to medium-sized residential properties. For larger projects he uses propane mowers, which he converts from gas, because electric doesn't have the battery strength.
"We found it cheaper to convert our own equipment at this point," DeFilippi said.
DeFilippi added that electric and propane mowers and weed trimmers also run quieter than gas-powered equipment.
"People really like that," DeFilippi said. "Rather than having a bunch of guys fire up a lot of large equipment at once, people hardly notice we are there."
DeFilippi said his prices are higher than other companies because sometimes it takes them longer to mow because the electric mowers don't have the same power efficiency as gas.
"Often times, we may have to go over a certain area twice and so it can take us longer," DeFilippi said.
Terri Betancourt, president of the Homeowners Association for Mapleton Avenue Condominium Association, said they compared eco-service against conventional lawn care and residents were willing to pay the higher cost because it was a greener alternative. Betancourt said this is the first season the association has used ecoLogical Lawn Care, but residents have been satisfied with its service.
"It was a group decision for us to go for the environmentally friendly service and so many of our owners wanted to go that way," Betancourt said. "We have kids in our building and we live in a historic district, so people weren't too crazy about having the noise and ambiance of traditional motors."
EcoLogical Lawn Care is also taking steps to green other aspects of the business, including the use of vans that run on biodiesel and using wind to power its office. DeFilippi said he is looking to install solar panels on the vans to recharge equipment throughout the day.