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ABOUT US

Soil Shepherds is a full-service landscape company based in Avondale, PA. 

Our mission is to visibly increase the amount of wildlife everywhere we look. Our vision is to integrate sustainable carbon neutral solutions.

Learning from the past

The landscape industry is built on a foundation of convenience that provides quick results while sacrificing unseen microscopic living organisms that are critical to soil health and in-turn, plant health. It is not possible to create beautiful landscapes full of life without focusing on the soil. Covering soil in weed fabric and oil-laced, black-dyed mulch, then using spray and pellet solutions for maintenance kills the microbes essential for soil health. We realized we must landscape differently. 

Creating a sustainable future 

There is a growing movement for homeowners to reduce lawns, return areas to nature, and to use native plants. These are great goals but there's so much more homeowners can do when we borrow from the most cutting-edge innovations in agriculture, and specifically, regenerative farming.  The most successful and sustainable farms are fueled by healthy soil - not chemicals.

 
 

REGENERATIVE BENEFITS

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Fewer Weeds

If you have an empty spot, nature will fill it with an unwanted plant (weed) OR you can fill it with a beautiful native plant. Weeds play an important role in nature to improve the soil in a process known as plant succession which takes hundreds of years. During installation we do not till the soil to prevent exposing buried weed seeds. When pests arise, we follow the Integrated Pest Management methodology to identify unwanted pests and smart design to intentionally change the soil conditions to prevent the weed from continuing to return. Improving the soil by adding organic matter will reduce the viability of weed seeds which remain viable 2 - 20 years or more.

More Life

More than 3/4 of the worlds crop species are pollinated by insects. Next time you visit the shopping center, or school or local park count the number of insects you see. The easiest way to help insects is to limit chemicals and to use diverse natives. Most natives are host plants that support an entire lifecycle of an insect like milkweed which is a native that supports Monarch butterflies as a caterpillar and as a butterfly. 

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More Color / Seasonal Interest

Traditionally evergreen shrubs have been used for year-round green color. We cover the soil with native shrubs and perennials which offer so much more! Many shrubs flower in the spring, fruit in the fall and their leaves turn a brilliant red color in the autumn. In addition to being a beautiful plant, they attract beautiful birds, butterflies and bees!  

Healthier - Family and Pets

Wendell Berry said, "What we do to the land, we do to ourselves." Herbicides and pesticides are designed to kill. When used carelessly or improperly they kill more than intended. We don't assume that any lawn and landscape chemical is safe, so we only use them as an absolute last resort when dealing with invasive weeds. As a result, chemical-free areas are safer for the unseen living organisms in the soil and for your family and pets. 

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Store Carbon

Trees are not the only plant capable of storing carbon, yet that is all we see in headlines. Long-living shrubs and perennials send up to 30% of the carbon they capture into the soil. In return, living soil transforms minerals and nutrients in the soil so the plant can use it. If your goal is storing carbon, then increase your soil organic matter by feeding the soil and cover the ground with perennials, shrubs and trees. 

Holds Water

One acre of soil can hold over 20,000 gallons of extra water for every 1% increase in soil organic matter. Why does the average lawn have around 2% organic matter instead of the ideal 5%? Two reasons. First, during construction when the ground is leveled lower subsoil with low organic matter is brought to the surface. Second, the legacy maintenance practices like lawn aeration and removing grass clippings and fallen leaves lowers organic matter. To increase organic matter, you need to feed the soil, not the plant. 

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REGENERATIVE LANDSCAPING

The term regenerative agriculture was introduced in the 1980's by Robert Rodale, founder of the Rodale Institute. The Rodale Institute is the longest running organic farm in the world and happens to be located in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. While the term is decades old, the originating principles date back to indigenous peoples around the world. Below are the core regenerative principles we follow. 

Integrated Pest Management

Insects and disease are the symptoms of a failing plant, not the cause of it. IPM is the step-by-step procedure for unwanted insects and weeds. 

Cover the Soil

In winter humans need help to stay warm. Living organisms in the soil prefer 75 degrees so using living or wood mulch insulates the soil. 

Limit Chemicals

Regenerative practices do not use chemicals. Therefore, we rarely use chemicals to control invasives unless there is no other viable solution. 

Use Diverse Natives

Natives have evolved to thrive in their climate so they use less water, and require less of your time, and support insects that live in your area. 

Feed the Soil; Not the Plant

Modern fertilizers bypass the soil structure they directly feed plants, which gives quick results but negatively impacts soil health. 

No Till

Tilling exposes and harms living organisms (like earthworms) and releases valuable organic matter (carbon).

Smart Design

A smart design considers all areas of the property like the wood's edge and driveway cracks to identify chemical-free solutions. 

Be Patient / Don't Sabotage

Nature is slow by design. We partner with living soil, plants, insects and animals, so it's important to not expect overnight results.

PARTNERS

 

COMMUNITY

 
West Vincent Township Sustainability Day
West Vincent Township Sustainability Day

Sharing our electric equipment. Our Greenworks commercial electric mower is included in lineup of electric cars.

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Stroud Water Fundraiser
Stroud Water Fundraiser

Enjoying time outside while raising money for a great cause.

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Kennett Square Light Parade
Kennett Square Light Parade

Great to be outside and to see children light up from vehicles covered in lights.

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West Vincent Township Sustainability Day
West Vincent Township Sustainability Day

Sharing our electric equipment. Our Greenworks commercial electric mower is included in lineup of electric cars.

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CONTACT

302-530-7132

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