Landscapers clean up in more ways than one

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A landscaper throws debris into a huge pile that will become mulch.(Photo: Mandie Trimble)
A landscaper throws debris into a huge pile that will become mulch.(Photo: Mandie Trimble)

Long after the power is restored, the cleanup will continue. Tree limbs and branches line nearly every street in Central Ohio. Although it may be unfortunate for the people who lost trees due to the high winds from remnants of Hurricane Ike, landscapers and mulching companies are cleaning up.

Philip Crawford stands in the back of a trailer tugging at tangled branches and limbs. Crawford owns the landscaping company Crystal Clean Services. He and his friend Paul Sherry have made roughly 15 trips to Kurtz Brothers, a mulching service, on Westerville Road where they dump the yard waste collected from different jobs.

“Amazing. Amazing.”

That how Crawford describes what business has been like for him the past four days.

“You know it may suck for everyone having trees fallen down, but landscaping’s been pretty slow lately. And it’s just now picked up and I’m able to catch up on some bills and help everybody out,” Crawford said.

While not all landscapers may be able say they can catch up on bills, one thing is for sure, they’ll all very busy.

And it’s no different at the mulching company. Marion Black supervises Kurtz Brothers’ Westerville site. He tried to explain his business while the phone rings off the hook.

“So instead of killing fresh trees that we need we recycle the good brush that’s brought into us. (phone rings)And we’ll recycle it and make several types of different mulches: color enhanced mulch…(phone continues to ring).”

The company charges landscapers a small fee to accept the yard waste. The company then sells the mulch. And just to give you an idea of the volume of customers at Kurtz Brothers…

“We’re looking at about a thousand fold from our normal time of year. Uh, we’ve had A thousand fold? A thousand fold. Yeah,” Black said.

Black said they are seeing between 600 and 700 trucks a day. In the 14 years he’s been with the company, Black said the only other time he’s seen this much business was a few winters ago during the ice storm.

As one group of people finishes unloading their trucks another truck pulls in its place. One one side of the yard there are huge piles of branches and limbs. On the other side larger piles of mulch.

Black said, although the storm was unfortunate for many people, it’s been good for business which he has been slow due to problems with the economy.

“People just can’t really afford to get trees cut down, unless they fall. So because of this storm, which is an unfortunate event for everybody around us, it’s very fortunate for us because we can bring this in and turn it around and make the products that people need in the future,” he said.

In the College Knoll suburb in Westerville a man uses a leaf blower to get red of saw dust made from grinding up limbs and a tree stump.

Stephen Shugart has been working sun up to sunset for TruGreen a landscaping company. He says the company has pulled landscapers to help out with tree pruning.

“We only usually run two pruning crews. But now we have all of our landscaping crews as well as, well there’s me and the other pruner out here. So everybody’s working with trees now,” Shugart said.

The company also had to buy additional equipment to keep up with demand.

For homeowners who want to drop of yard waste at Kurtz Brothers, they can do so for free. Kurtz Brothers has extended its hours through the week. The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio is also accepting residential yard waste at its sites for free on Saturday.