Quite the jolt

Electric equipment has come a long way in the past decade, and contractors use those advancements to offer more options to customers.

Kelly Giard started Clean Air Lawn Care in 2006, and the company has since grown to 46 locations nationwide.
Photos courtesy of Clean Air Lawn Care

Firms that specialize in using electric landscaping equipment – from mowers and trimmers to blowers and edgers – feel the choice isn’t just good for the environment. It’s also good for business.

“I think there’s endless potential,” says Kelly Giard, CEO of Clean Air Lawn Care in Fort Collins, Colorado. “I think consumers are waking up to the healthier lawn approach, and I think it’s a trend that a lot of people are starting to believe in.”

A growing industry.

When Giard started Clean Air Lawn Care in 2006 – which now has 46 locations nationwide – launching an all-electric lawn care business was anything but mainstream. “We were definitely the ‘black sheep’ of lawn care a little bit. It was considered extreme at the time,” he says.

Instead of traditional, gas-powered lawn equipment, Clean Air Lawn Care uses only zero-emission, electric equipment run on batteries that charge via solar panels embedded on company trucks.

In the early days of the business, “the biggest hurdle was just getting consumers to understand they had a choice,” Giard says.

Over time, though, customers’ demand for more environmentally friendly lawn care options caught up with Giard’s vision, and as a result, the company has grown quickly. It plans to open 10 more franchise locations this year alone.

In Maryland, Lyn DeWitt, founder and owner of Solar Mowing, has found she doesn’t need to do any traditional advertising. Instead, customers who want more environmentally-friendly options seek her out, specifically because she uses non-traditional equipment.

“I have a waiting list of people wanting our services if we ever decide to move outside our current service area,” says DeWitt, who operates within a five-mile radius of her home near Bethesda, Maryland. “I think there’s a great, pent-up demand for this.”

Recent advances.

The industry seems to be taking note of the growing electric demand.

Equipment availability and capacity have come a long way, to the point where some electric equipment is comparable to its gas counterparts.

“The electric mowers available on the market have improved significantly,” DeWitt says. “They’re more durable than they used to be. They don’t break as often. They last longer.”

Walk the Walk: Giard says some clients will want to see a company that’s fully committed to sustainability.

Battery advancements have been another big key to making electric lawn care more practical. Giard says the move to larger capacity lithium batteries has allowed them to operate each truck daily with four batteries instead of 20. Meanwhile, DeWitt’s noticed the time-saving benefits of making the switch as well.

“When I started, the mower batteries took about 10 hours to charge,” DeWitt says. “Now they take a half hour and they last four times as long.”

Making the switch.

A good place to start a conversion would be switching out your trimmers and blowers. Giard says those implements have fully closed the gap to match their gas counterparts in performance with routine yard maintenance.

Giard says that moving into the electric niche may require an all-or-nothing approach in order to attract customers who commit to environmentally sustainable lawn care.

“If you want to go after that niche customer, they want you to walk the walk. You can’t just dabble and have one truck with electric equipment, but four others that are gas,” Giard says.

Both Solar Mowing and Clean Air Lawn Care complement their use of electric equipment by following organic lawn care principals.

DeWitt mows high and leaves the clippings, for example, while Giard’s firm offers organic weed control and fertilization. In this way, their companies appeal to green-conscious customers who want to extend their sustainability beyond their home and daily purchases and into their lawns.

“We’re catering to customers who want a Whole Foods-like experience, but in terms of their lawn care,” Giard says.

The author is a freelance writer based in the Northeast.

Read Next

Digital dominance

July 2019
Explore the July 2019 Issue

Check out more from this issue and find you next story to read.

Share This Content