Bill Adams, Jr., owner of Southern Landscape Pros in Willow Spring, NC, has always loved the outdoors. “Even as a kid, it seemed like I always had a shovel in my hand, ready to help my grandma in her garden or in the yard,” he recalls. “I really value those memories, along with the strong work ethic and determination that came from doing jobs outside.”
Adams started a mowing business at just 15-years-old which further solidified his love of the industry. “That was a really formative time in my life,” he says. “[Landscaping] has long felt like something I was always meant to do.”
Earning a Horticultural Science degree at NC State University led to a deeper interest in biology, ecology, and plant production. With this education and experience, Adams started Southern Landscape Pros in 1987. The company was focused on lawn care and maintenance, but demand soon increased. “It seemed like more and more of my customers were asking for landscape installation services, mulch, specific plants, you name it,” he says. “I saw this opportunity to really become a full-service, one-stop solution.”
From Refuse To Recycled
As Adams’ business and services grew to include hardscape, water gardens, and planting beds, so did the amount of job site debris. “The landscape industry generates a lot of natural refuse—grass clippings, organic debris, prunings from shrubs and trees,” explains Adams. “All of that debris has to go somewhere, and in a lot of cases, that somewhere is the area landfill.”
Adams and his team would spend countless hours each week taking all their materials to the landfill, which was exacting a significant toll on their time—not to mention miles and gas for the trucks. “I just knew there had to be a better way, and I was going to figure it out. I was also going to figure out how to make it viable for my business, and my customers,” says Adams.
He began to research alternative methods of recycling and composting. By the beginning of 2006, Adams began an entirely new venture—recycled soil—that took off in a major way in terms of quality and cost-savings.
Today, Southern Landscape Pros allocates a three-acre plot of land near its nurseries where landscape debris is managed and sorted. The team also contracts with a local grinding company to grind and create uniform pieces of debris. From there, the natural refuse is spread out for further breakdown—much like composting. Additionally, the team regularly turns the soil to keep fresh oxygen flowing and moisture levels conducive to healthy bacteria growth.
“This really is the best organic soil,” comments Adams. “While we do sell about half of what we make, we use the other half for ourselves in our landscape business, so our customers benefit from the soil since it yields such wonderful, healthy plants.”
Adams and the team have four Bobcat telehandlers to tend the soil as it’s composting. “These machines provide the perfect reach and flexibility to adequately turn the product thanks to the long arm,” explains Adams. “People who compost know this, but that pile gets very hot—this is the best way to make sure all of that material is properly and consistently turned.”
He adds, “We were most impressed with how durable and tough these machines were, paired with their manageable transportation footprint.”
Adams says from beginning to end, the process from raw material to organic soil takes around three years. “It is so worth the wait,” he comments. This coming from a person who knows that good things come to those who wait—especially in the plant world. “One of my favorite parts of my job is going back to projects I did 30, 35 years ago and seeing how all of the plant life has matured and flourished,” says Adams. “Knowing that I planted something with my own two hands from a seed or a cutting, and that it grew—there is no better feeling in the world.”
McAllister is a communications professional with Doosan Bobcat North America. Visit bobcat.com.
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