Milwaukee Edition

Landscaping Company Rooted in Sustainable Practices

David Fischer and Mike Herrenbruck, co-owners of Eco Harmony Landscape & Design, LLC, met while enrolled in the horticultural program at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). During childhood, they each had an appreciation of the outdoors. While growing up in Wauwatosa, Fischer spent time camping and hiking. Herrenbruck, who was raised in Port Washington when the area was still mostly rural, frequently played outdoors.

While the two took divergent paths to get there, they ended up sharing many classes at MATC and became good friends. In 2008, both achieved their Associate of Applied Science degrees in horticulture. After graduation, Fischer moved to Hawaii for six months, where he worked and lived on a permaculture farm. Herrenbruck worked for a landscaping company, and when he heard that Fischer was return ing to Milwaukee, he invited his friend to work with him. The men began exchanging ideas about starting their own business, and in late 2010, struck out on their own to form Eco Harmony.

Beginning with one pickup truck and a wheelbarrow, Eco Harmony has grown into a full service landscape company with seven employees. Environmentally sustainable landscaping is a large component of the business, and Herrenbruck says they’re one of the few specializing in environmentally conscious services. They offer design-and-build consultations where they choose native plants, natural stone and water management options such as natural-looking rain gardens and placement of rain barrels.

“With any project we do, we try to incorporate dealing with water on-site,” Fischer explains. “One of the major contributors of water pollution is storm water runoff, which goes into the rivers and eventually, into Lake Michigan. Effectively dealing with water on each individual property helps the greater good in reducing the water runoff.”

Both Fischer and Herrenbruck in corporate education into their approach to landscaping. While a sprawling green lawn may look luxurious, it requires much mowing and fertilizing, which in creases pollution. But native plants such as purple cone flower, columbine, blue flag iris, black-eyed Susan and milkweed attract butterflies and birds.

Herrenbruck cites as an example a yard where they planted a combination of 75 percent native plants to 25 percent non-native. “That season, the amount of butterflies in her yard was unbelievable,” he recalls. “It’s rewarding to pay attention to wildlife engaging with plants and see how the plants have something to give back.”

Eco Harmony sources the majority of its plants and materials from local nurseries, greenhouses and quarries. They also offer permeable pavers that allow water to seep through and be diverted to desired areas.

Eco Harmony belongs to several landscaping organizations and shares communal office space with Hoppe Tree Service and its offshoot business, Urban Wood Lab, which mills fallen trees for buildings and tables instead of chipping or chopping them for fire wood. Fischer and Herrenbruck enjoy belonging to a group of businesses that are like-minded in their goal of sustainability.

Fischer feels rewarded by trans forming backyards and outdoor spaces into living environments. He also feels good about providing jobs for people and keeping dollars in the Wisconsin economy by working with local suppliers. “I like being a positive business and generating work for people,” he says. “Hopefully, by doing all of these things, we can make a difference.”

Herrenbruck stays inspired by nature. “I’m a huge advocate for design. You don’t build a house without a plan. Look at nature; there’s rhyme and reason for everything that happens, and I’m charged by the intricacy of how it all works. You can’t really replicate it, but you can add to it and engage in your environment.”

Eco Harmony Landscape & Design, LLC, is located at 6117 W. Bluemound Rd., in Milwaukee. For more information, call 414-627-5858 or 414-810-5858 or visit EcoHarmonyLandscaping.com.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings of Milwaukee. Connect at SJulson@wi.rr.com.

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