Organic Landscaping and Property Maintenance

Richard Wetmore operates a certified organic landscaping business in Woodstock, New Brunswick. Currently they service approximately 25 acres of lawns and gardens. Richard outlines the principles of organic landcare, and how the certification process works.

Organic land care can be defined as the design, installation and maintenance of landscapes to preserve the environmental health both above and below the ground.

We approach this topic in the same manner we approach organic farming, in that it is understood that all organisms in nature are interdependent. This means that if we want healthy plants we need to support the health of the entire ecosystem. We also accept the fact that the soil is a diverse microecosystem with countless living organisms that interact in such a way to allow plants to acquire proper balances of water and nutrients and to resist pests and diseases.

Organic land care uses the following guiding principles:

  • no chemically derived pesticides or fertilizers are used
  • reduce and prevent pollution
  • conserve natural resources
  • maximize ecological functioning
  • create aesthetically attractive designs
  • increase biodiversity both above and below the soil level
  • benefit wildlife
  • encourage the land to speak in its own language with its own regional accent by making use of native plants

The principles are used in all aspects of landscape design and maintenance from turf to shrub bed to garden. By applying these principles, organic land care professionals try to act as good stewards of the earth by accepting the fact that we work with nature and do not seek to dominate it.

To benefit our clients and protect our integrity we sought organic certification through Maritime Certified Organic Growers (MCOG). This organization handled our request in the same way it handles applications from processors of organic food. We submitted our plan to a local certification group who review it and question us on areas of concern. They vote to accept or reject our application. The next step in this process is a visit from an independent organic certification inspector who will pass judgment on our approach.

When both levels are satisfied that the operation meets all of the requirements for organic certification a certificate is issued. The certificate is good for one year. We must go through the same process each time it is newed.

The website for the Society of Organic Urban Land Care Professionals (SOUL) ( based in Victoria, British Columbia, provides more details about organic landscaping and the certification process.

-Richard Wetmore, April 12, 2004

Posted 17 May 2004