Landscape firm catches on to rainwater harvesting

August 4, 2014 -  By

A Pennsylvania contractor latches on to growing interest in rainwater harvesting.

Although Marrazzo’s North River Landscape, Hardscape & Rainwater Harvesting is nestled in a fairly dependable region for annual rainfall,  receiving 50 inches to 60 inches per year, the Wycombe, Pa.-based firm still faces water restrictions from townships at times.

Diane Marrazzo, who heads the firm that comprises around four two-men crews with her husband, Anthony Marrazzo, doesn’t view the rules as a constraint. Instead she sees it as an opportunity to make a little profit. The firm added a rainwater harvesting service in 2009.

“Having stored rainwater available for the purpose of watering (our clients’) new investment in landscaping is highly beneficial to us to not lose a job or have a client postpone their job,” Marrazzo says.

Though it’s a slow-growing service, she says it’s a natural fit for any landscape firm and that it makes sense to use rainwater on landscapes.

“Rainwater is high in nitrogen, which is very healthy for all plant material,” she says. “Nitrogen-enriched water will allow plants to grow greener, healthier and bigger than municipal water—not to mention it’s free.” In Marrazzo’s area and many other regions of the country, water/sewer authorities bill customers by the amount of water they use, which can add up quickly when you’re irrigating a new landscape installation.

For some perspective on how much a system can save, Marrazzo says a 2,000-square foot roof will collect 1,250 gallons of water after just a 1-inch rainfall. In comparison, running a sprinkler for two hours can use up to 500 gallons of water, she says.

Marrazzo’s North River sells and installs a system that captures rainwater from the rooftop, filters it and stores it underground in an interlocking crate system. From there, water is pumped up to ground level when needed for, say, topping off a spa, supplementing irrigation systems or feeding a pond. 

Marrazzo’s North River uses an out-of-the-box rainwater harvesting system: AquaBlox rainwater storage tanks, manufactured by Aquascape. They’re installed underground with a ¾ horsepower pump to provide water through a garden hose or directly to supplement a pond. 

For a 6-square-foot water storage area, a client would pay about $4,500 for the installation, which often is completed in two to three days by a two-man crew. Marrazzo says all jobs are priced based on their size and scope, and there’s little maintenance required on the systems post-installation. The company merely informs clients to monitor the system’s water level meter and fill it if needed.

Having installed only a few of these systems, Marrazzo acknowledges the service is growing slowly among its 96 percent residential client base. Word of mouth has been the best way to market, she adds, because there’s the opportunity to educate clients on the spot about what rainwater harvesting is and what the service entails.

Including “rainwater harvesting” in the company name also has helped pique some interest, she says.

Adding this offering to the business was a gradual process, too, Marrazzo adds. In addition to independently researching the concept, she and her husband attended a training seminar to learn more about installing the systems before they felt confident selling the service to clients.

She’s hopeful interest will pick up as the price of water continues to rise across the country and people turn to alternate sources. But for now, Marrazzo views it as a way for the company to continue honing its own expertise of water efficiency, keeping the firm ahead of the curve—in water saving and its competition.

Service snapshot

Company: Marrazzo’s North River Landscape, Hardscape & Rainwater Harvesting
Location: Wycombe, Pa.
Why: Rainwater is good for plants; plus, the firm wanted to offer an alternative to city water, Diane Marrazzo says.
Biggest challenge: Teaching clients the long-term benefits so they understand the upfront cost, Marrazzo says.
Best tip: “Each install will always present a new obstacle,” Marrazzo says. “Install a few at no charge or at cost to practice on the fundamentals of the install. Get a few under your belt, (and then) get your name out there with your voice, signage and tangible advertising.”

This is posted in Add-On Biz, August 2014

About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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