Entrepreneur steamed up to kill weeds

John Hager
John Hager

Phil Castle, The Business Times

John Hager offers what he considers the perfect option for controlling weeds, one that’s instantly lethal for weeds, yet completely safe for people, pets and other landscaping.

“I can drink what I’m using,” Hager said.

That’s because Hager is using hot water — steam, actually.

Hager and his wife, Connie, have launched a business they call Rocky Mountain Steam-N-Weed to offer weed control services to what they expect will be a variety of customers in the Grand Valley.

The Hagers also will serve as distributors for the equipment used for steam weeding.

Rocky Mountain Steam-N-Weed fits in well with another family operation — All Phase Lawns — that offers lawn maintenance services.

“I’m very, very excited about it,” John Hager said.

Steam weeding was developed in Australia and has been used in that country for more than 20 years, Hager said. The technique was brought to the United States, and steam weeding machines are now manufactured in California, he said.

A water tank, diesel-fueled burner and pump that fit into the bed of a pickup truck heat and deliver water through hoses to special heads and nozzles that apply saturated steam over weeds, Hager said. The setup is similar to a pressure washer, he said, only with far lower pressure.

The result is immediate, he said. “It explodes the cells in the weeds. It instantly kills the plant.”

What steam treatment doesn’t do, Hager said, is pose the problems and hazards of chemical herbicides. “It is so safe.”

Steam treatments pose no hazards to people, pets or other landscaping that could affected by chemical overspraying, Hager said. Applicators don’t have to wear protective gear or worry about the effects of repeated exposure to toxins. And there’s no concern of contamination from runoff from paved surfaces or leaching through the soil.

Because the treatment doesn’t penetrate beyond a quarter of an inch, steam doesn’t affect the microbes, worms and other beneficial organisms in soil, he said. In fact, lawns can be sodded or seeded after a steam treatment.

Steam works well for controlling weeds at businesses, parks and other public places where people frequent, Hager said. Steam also works well for controlling weeds at organic agricultural operations, including orchards and vineyards.

Hager said he plans to soon demonstrate and begin using his steam weeding equipment. He expects to serve a variety of customers in the Grand Valley, including homeowners, businesses and agricultural producers.

In addition to controlling weeds, the steam system can be used for other applications, Hager said, including cleaning and removing graffiti.

Hager expects to offer steam weed control and other services in the Grand Valley. But he also expects to sell the equipment as a distributor, starting in Colorado and slowly expanding to other states.

While Hager has high hopes for his new business venture, he said he’s also anxious to offer another option for weed control that’s effective, but also safe. “It’s not about the money. It is about sharing to people what we can do and what people can do for themselves.”

For more information about Rocky Mountain Steam-N-Weed, call 433-7638 or send an e-mail to rockymountainsteamnweed@gmail.com.