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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

Eco Harmony Cultivates Environmentally Sustainable Landscaping Practices

Feb 26, 2021 08:30AM ● By Sheila Julson
What began with one pickup truck and a wheelbarrow during the spring of 2010 has blossomed into Eco Harmony Landscape & Design, LLC, a sustainable, full-service, design and landscape company. It was founded by college friends David Fischer and Mike Herrenbruck, who met while enrolled in the horticultural program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. After completing the program, they each first went their own way, working in sustainable landscaping and permaculture farming, before reconnecting to form Eco Harmony.

The business has grown, despite season-to-season challenges such as wild weather swings and training and retaining skilled employees. In recent years, they’ve honed in on design-and-build services such as rainwater runoff solutions and the installation of plants, patios, retaining walls and outdoor living spaces. Fischer notes that the latter are in high demand during the pandemic because people are spending more time at home.

Ecologically Sound Solutions

Rain gardens are becoming a standard way to filter out pollutants from stormwater while providing a habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Eco Harmony offers such gardens in a wide range of styles. “Some have rocks and decorative stone, some have plant mulch, and some are a combination of both,” Fischer explains. “Many clients have issues such as standing water, or water runoff from a hill, and that water needs to be captured and diverted away from their properties.”

The Eco Harmony team utilizes hybrid, permeable patio bases in their patio installation projects, which allow rain water to drain through rather than run off into receiving waterways. Fischer notes that permeable pavement has become common over the last few years, and due to ecological benefits, is now a recommended style of building. The team also incorporates rain barrels, bioswales and underground-water harvesting systems into projects to help capture rain water.

Fischer and Herrenbruck incorporate native plants whenever possible, and avoid using chemicals. They can also incorporate edible landscaping or non-native plants, depending on client preferences.

"Our work is education-based,” Herrenbruck affirms. “We teach clients about what will work for their spaces, and we listen to what works for their lifestyles. We use that information to bring them interesting design ideas.” He continues, “I look at landscaping as four-dimensional art. Plants evolve throughout the seasons and become living art forms.”

Herrenbruck says they have completed many jobs for outdoor living space projects, including outdoor kitchens, firepits, low-voltage lighting and built-in seating such as seat walls. “Wisconsin has a lot to offer, in terms of the variety of seasons. Creating a functional, sustainable and esthetically pleasing outdoor living space can enhance experiences with friends and family, and provide opportunity for camaraderie and relationship building,” he says.

Eco Harmony has also started doing lakeshore restoration projects. “Lake Michigan is rising, and the people who live along the lakefront are losing land,” Fischer explains. “For a recent project in Belgium, we deconstructed a 150-foot stretch of shoreline at a private residence and replaced it with Wisconsin granite boulders.”

In addition to using sustainable landscaping practices, Fischer and Herrenbruck strive to mentor the next generation of landscapers by teaching them the skills to maintain good jobs. They also support the local economy by using plants and materials from Wisconsin companies. Most of the natural stone they use comes from vendors in southeast Wisconsin and surrounding counties. Their plants come from local nurseries such as W & E Radtke, in Germantown.

After operating out of shared work space for many years, Fischer and Herrenbruck now have their own brick-and-mortar location, which allows them to store more equipment and project materials.

“We’re still trying to fight the good fight by providing family-supporting jobs, sourcing Wisconsin-produced materials and making a positive difference whenever possible with native plants, rainwater harvesting techniques and raingardens,” Fischer concludes. “We like to push the boundaries of what’s possible, whether that’s on an artistic level or a functional level.”

Eco Harmony Landscape & Design, LLC, is located at 4225 N. 124 St., Brookfield. For more information, call 414-810-5858 or visit

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings.