The Silent Gardener Ltd. owner Sheldon Ridout has been in business since 2000. In that time his landscape company has been Climate Smart Certified (measuring, setting targets and lowering greenhouse gas emission and waste) and in 2012 he won the BC Landscape Nursery Association award for Environmental Stewardship. His goal from day one has been to reduce noise and air pollution all the while providing an efficient, quality gardening service.
A conversation with Sheldon about his business and sustainability.
What got you thinking about sustainability?
20 plus years ago when I got into the Horticulture certification program at Kwantlen College I didn’t really give sustainability a second thought. I graduated from the program a year later and went to work for a very good company who did landscape maintenance the same way as everyone else.
In the 7+ years of working for that company I applied more pesticide than I care to think about. I went home smelling like 2 stroke exhaust every day. Generally I found customers were angry for the noise and fearful of the chemicals we were using.
You have a lot of time to think as a gardener. I started thinking that there has to be a better way. Gardening should be a peaceful undertaking and it wasn’t. I started taking organic gardening courses and learning how the chemicals we were using negatively affected the soil and how it leaches into the water table. I finally got to a point where I was either going to leave the horticulture industry or do something to change how I did landscape maintenance, so I started The Silent Gardener Ltd.
Are there benefits to being a sustainable and environmentally friendly landscaping company?
The added benefit to doing the work the way we do it, is it sets us apart from the 1000 odd other landscape maintenance companies out there. And of course, there’s less of an impact on our environment.
What are some of your greatest challenges and obstacles?
We work hard at being a very sustainable company. What we really need is for corporations to understand that reducing their carbon foot print also extends to grounds maintenance. Most mowing equipment doesn’t have emission controls and are heavy polluters.
Right now we are heavily promoting the company. We’re trying to meet as many Property and Facility managers as possible to explain our service and how it will benefit them and help them meet their overall sustainability objectives. (and have beautifully landscaped gardens as well!)