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The Ground Up is Taking Root

The ground up logo on a white background. Last month I visited The Ground Up – Houston’s new powerhouse in organic soils, compost and mulch. I first saw them at an OHBA event this spring. They’re marketing is fresh, vibrant and very hip. But most importantly, they’re committed to sustainability and producing quality products to serve the Houston area. That got my attention.

In my opinion, most gardeners spend way too much time focusing on what is above the ground and ignore the most important part of their garden, the soil. Building good soil is an ongoing process and what you put in your soil really does matter. Compost is the single best soil amendment. Before I’d spend anything on tweaking my soil I would add a quality compost. It is balanced, teaming with beneficial microbes and literally breathes life into your soil.

A man holding a pile of dirt in his hands.

Their handcrafted humus compost looks and smells great. It is made from 100% pure, virgin yard and gardening trimmings. It is Soil Foodweb tested and approved.

Andrew Jobe, Corporate Development and Ashley Olmsted, Marketing and Communications of The Ground Up, gave me the tour of the Windfern location. They understand the chemistry of good soil and how important quality is. It is refreshing.

A man and woman standing in front of a pile of dirt.

Yes, we road around in this snazzy vehicle.

A suv is parked in front of a pile of dirt.

Virgin materials are delivered to the yard by landscapers, tree trimmers and land developers.

A pile of logs.

Trimmings are ground up and placed in mounds to begin the composting process. It takes massive equipment to produce compost and mulch.

A green machine in a dirt field.

A yellow bulldozer with a lot of wires on it.

A pile of brown dirt with a white sky in the background.

A pile of dirt.

You can find them at 9945 Windfern (just north of 290 inside Beltway and 19102 FM 1093 (Westpark Tollroad) in Richmond TX. West Houston finally has a source for quality compost, mulch and soils. If you’re looking for a wide selection of stones, rocks and boulders – you’ll find them there too.

Looking for bagged products? They’ll be introducing them this fall, so you’ll be able to pick up mulch and compost at most premium garden centers in town.

From The Ground Up website:

We take only clean, organic yard trimmings, then we age it, grind it, and handcraft it into mulch, composts, and bed mixes to create a cycle we call, from The Ground Up. We carry – Mulch, Soil, Sand, Stone, Grass and mulch much more!

So remember before planting anything, make sure you work from The Ground Up. It is important to support local businesses that focus on creating quality products in a sustainable manner.

Disclosure: The opinions and views expressed here are mine. I was not compensated by anyone to write this article. I did receive a sample of compost from The Ground Up to take home and try in my garden.

6 thoughts on “The Ground Up is Taking Root”

  1. Hi Jacqueline.

    I am also very impressed with The Ground Up people and products. You mentioned that their compost was “Soil Foodweb tested and approved.” Do you know if they are publishing their test results anywhere? Knowledgeable organic landscape professionals would be very interested.


  2. Hello Jacqueline,
    I have a question rather than a comment – do the landscapers, tree trimmers, and land developers verify that the plant material that they bring is free of herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers? If not, can this be called organic? Aren’t we then putting those chemicals, though composted, into our raised beds, etc.?

      1. Hello Charlotte,
        Great question! With today’s use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, both on home landscapes and agricultural farm land, it is rare to find plant material that has not been exposed to chemicals at some point.

        Proper composting practicing are vital to ensure that these chemicals are broken down through microbial decomposition. To do this correctly, composts and soils must be created in aerobic conditions. Much like humans, compost and soils need oxygen to breath and survive. This means a maximum supply of the beneficial microorganisms which support healthy plant growth and eliminate toxins. Alternatively, anaerobic processes create an environment that is devoid of oxygen, ideal for the growth of unwanted weeds and “bad” bacteria.

        There are several steps TGU takes to ensure that our products are aerobic and toxin-free. At TGU, we only take in virgin yard, tree and garden trimmings. Unlike other manufacturers, we do not accept any treated lumber, construction debris, pallets, dry-wall, roof shingles, plastic bags, and any other inorganic materials. These products have a much higher rate of chemicals and contaminates that can be very harmful to plants. Then, through proper composting practices and regular product testing, we can ensure that our products are healthy and rich in beneficial microorganisms.
        When purchasing compost I would encourage the consumer to talk to the soil producer to find out how they are producing compost, what feedstocks are being used, and what equipment/methodologies they are utilizing.

        We encourage people to come by our sites to see our practices and methodologies for a better understanding of how proper soils are made and what that means for your lawn or garden.

        Hope this answers your question, Charlotte! Mulch love,
        The Ground Up

    1. Jacqueline D'Elia

      Here is the reply I received from John Ferguson of Nature’s Way Resources. Sorry it took me a while to get this comment posted.

      First feedstocks or plant material – Source generators of feedstock material such as landscapers, tree trimmers, etc. do not care and are not qualified to determine if herbicides are present. Common feedstocks are grass, leaves, manure and bedding, food waste, and tree trimmings. Leaves, food waste, and tree trimmings would not have herbicides on them. Grass clippings may have some, manure and bedding a lot more.

      Second – the type herbicide is also important as some will bio degrade quickly (short half-life) and others take a long time (over a year). See paper on my website “Killer Composts”.

      Third – the composting method used, fast methods (windrows) with a 6 week or less composting time that is primarily bacterial decomposition versus long time frames of a year or more (static pile methods) which is dominated by fungal decomposition. Many herbicides require fungus to break them down and sometimes an anaerobic (without oxygen) phase also which only occurs in static piles.

      Forth – there is also a dilution factor, how much of a possible feedstock is contaminated and what is it mixed with. Small amounts of contaminated feedstock mixed with large amounts of herbicide free feedstocks.

      Hence the combination of these factors determine if the compost is herbicide residual free or not. The highest risk factor is cow manure composts as they are often fed hay that has been treated with extremely persistent herbicides (see paper Killer Composts). Thus the combination of short time frames and certain feedstocks have the highest risk factors. There have been thousands of gardens destroyed from Great Britain to Washington state by these type of composts. The selling price will tell one what type of compost they are getting. In other words, low price compost equals high risk factor (one gets what they pay for).

      A few years ago, TCEQ tested composts from all over the state fro herbicide residuals. My compost had NO detectable residues, 2 year time frame, static pile, and I do not use cow manure (herbicide and salt) or poultry manure (lots of arsenic and salt). I loose a lot of revenue by not accepting those feedstocks. The small amounts of horse manure I accept are from grass fed horses from private stables (no race track manure which has other toxic chemicals in it).

      This is a short answer to a complex problem, John

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