Reflections on a year

As we are putting our gardens to bed throughout Pittsburgh and its nearby hills, we are also putting to bed our own garden of work for 2018.  This past year has brought us so many new opportunities and challenges and we are so thankful to be able to share them with our clients.  From tackling invasive plants with our flame thrower to observing the results of several years of natural soil building methods, we are here to tell you- it works! Approaching the landscape from a natural perspective just plain makes sense, it’s a great return on an investment- bees and butterflies approved!

This season was a testimony to good rain gear, with above average rainfall and a compacted urban setting, we are experiencing a host of new challenges in an ever-changing ecosystem.  This reality is what keeps us on our toes and why we try to be as immersed in our local, regional and state-wide educational resources.  We, three are all now individually certified through the Sustainable Land care Accreditation at Phipps!  Claire had a really great experience in the course this past spring, she enjoyed networking opportunities and appreciated the focus on sustainability!  This past June, Meg and I were able to attend the Native Plants in the Landscape Conference in Millersville, PA.  This 3- day conference brought many different aspects of the industry from design to technique and tactics, we were inspired by new approaches, made connections to strengthen our network of advocates and left with greater sense of purpose for our work. 

We know a new season is coming, and after winter holidays have passed, we will begin a time spent in quiet contemplation of the year, updating our skill sets and Vitamin D and appreciating a time to focus on projects.   With fervent excitement for the year to come, I know this winter will be a productive one for every one of us!


I, for one, know that we feel utterly blessed to be able to put our passion into practice and to share that with others.  


Paying mind to the cacophony of the world around us, I can only hope our work offers our clients and passersby an opportunity to gaze in wonderment of the natural world and experience a moment of peace within.


In kindness, humility and gratitude,


Phipps Sustainable Landcare Acreditation

Winter time is good for something and that something is research and continuing education.

The Dirt team certainly has been busy.  From Jen combing through the pros and cons of various client user software, Claire researching databases, and to me taking every class I can grab. While continuing ed can sometimes be redundant and boring it can also be exciting and new! Its always good to review and see things with new eyes because who knows you might have missed something!

I've (Meg) been working on a Sustainable Horticulture and Native Plant Landscapes and a Landscape and Garden Design certificates from Phipps for two years now. The classes are great and I look forward to finishing it soon! I think you'll see my drawings have improved.

The whole crew (Claire, Jen, and Meg) went to a Estimating and Bidding for Landscape Installation class offered through Penn State Extension. This two-day intensive workshop was designed to help participants understand how to determine the overhead of operating a landscaping business and create a bid. It was taught by a man who owns a ground up successful landscaping business out of the Penn State region and who also graduated with a degree in Landscaping Business from Penn State University. MCed by none other than the infamous Sandy Feather it was a nice way to spend two days indoors with the other ladies at the new Penn State Extension office in The Energy Innovation Center. 

And finally we (Jen and Meg) took The Sustainable Landcare Accreditation Course. Modeled after the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Organic Land Care Program we spent four days at Botany Hall absorbing a wealth of information on topics such as Soil Ecology; Site Analysis and Design; Organic Pest, Weed and Disease Control; Storm Water Management; Invasive Plants and more. We got to see Sandy Feather again presenting on pests and diseases. So we passed our exams and we pledged to provide only sustainable land care according to the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care. For more info on this great course click here

Soon will be having a Dirt retreat in town. We'll be focusing on integrating all we've learned from our hands on experiences over the past few years running the business together and all that we've learned from these great classes!

Peas and Lovage,

Meg Graham