What's Hybrid Organic Lawn Care
by Alec McClennan, on March 29, 2017
What is "Hybrid Organic Lawn Care"?
(Spoiler Alert: It's a wolf in sheep's clothing)
It seems that choosing an organic lawn care company is getting more difficult. Back in 1999, when Good Nature Organic Lawn Care was founded, there was one type of lawn care company and they all used the same lawn care chemicals. Nobody really questioned whether using chemicals on their lawn was a good idea or not. People assumed that since the chemicals are approved by the government, they must be "safe". Truth is, lawn care chemicals are not safe and any lawn care company that tells you that they use safe lawn care chemicals is breaking the law.
At Good Nature, we use vegetable meals, proteins, sea plant extracts, humus containing products, plant oils, and micronutrients to keep grass and plants healthy so that they can defend themselves from insects and disease while defending their territory against weed invasion. It might surprise you to know that you'll find many of our ingredients in the food you eat and others in food that your pets eat. Even using those products, we're still not allowed to tell you that they are "safe". So, when a chemical lawn care company tells you they use "safe lawn chemicals”, you might want to look into that. We tell you what types of lawn care products we use and, more importantly, what types of materials we don't use. Then you decide which you'd rather put into our environment and have around your family and pets.
They Call It "Hybrid" So It Must Be Good...Right?
In the past few years, a number of chemical lawn care companies realized that the homeowners are concerned about potentially dangerous lawn care chemicals. Many responded by creating "Hybrid lawn care programs”. Hybrid sounds really nice because you think of hybrid cars which hardly use any gas and are great for the environment. The problem is that when a lawn care company uses the word "hybrid" or "organic-based" what they're really saying is that they're still using all the same chemicals a traditional chemical lawn care company uses but now they mix in some natural or organic materials that help the chemicals work better. So, what you actually get is that same old chemical lawn care program disguised as more environmentally friendly and safe. While this may be a slight improvement over straight chemical lawn care, they're still using the same harmful chemicals.
Hybrid Organic Lawn Care vs. True Organic Lawn Care
Step 1: Fertilizer & Pre-Emergent Weed Control
With Organic Based Lawn Care and Hybrid Lawn Care programs they'll boast in big print about how they use some sort of natural product to feed the grass. Sometimes it's a manure-based product and sometimes it's a humate-based product. Then (in the fine print) you discover that they still use the same chemical fertilizers and (even worse) chemical pesticides. The first treatment of the year typically contains a chemical pre-emergent weed killer. These chemicals are designed to create a "chemical-blanket" over the surface of the soil to kill any weed seeds that try to sprout over the next three to four months. That means that you have a chemical blanket laying over your lawn for three to four months. They say it's OK to walk on the lawn after 24 hour. Say what!! Honestly, would you want your kids playing on a chemical blanket?
At Good Nature, we use plant extracts that strengthen the grass to fight the weeds. Research has shown that using our products and mowing high (3-1/2" to 4" inches) will prevent as much crabgrass as any chemical will. So skip the chemical pre-emergent and consider Good Nature's corn and plant oil-based products to discourage annual weeds like crabgrass.
Step 2: Post Emergent Weed Killer
As the weather warms up, the lawn care company will come out to apply a post-emergent weed killer. They'll also apply a standard chemical fertilizer. And, if it's a "hybrid" lawn care company, they may include a little bit of natural material to make things seem environmentally friendly. The post-emergent lawn care chemicals have been linked to all kinds of issues with people and pets. Click here to learn more about lawn weed killers.
At Good Nature, we use vegetable materials and micronutrients that strengthen the grass in order to weaken the weeds. You end up with a lawn that has a few more weeds than if you were using regular lawn care chemicals but drastically fewer weeds than you'd have if you weren't doing anything at all. We think that a few weeds are a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're maintaining your lawn without all the chemicals. If there ever are so many weeds that our natural approach won't work, at your request and we can use a chemical post-emergent weed killer to get things under control to your liking. The best time to use a chemical is the fall because they're most likely to kill the roots of the weeds so that you don't need to use chemicals every year. Most of our clients never elect to have us use a chemical and that's great!
Step 3: Kill the Bugs
The next step in a hybrid or chemical lawn care program is a little more fertilizer, maybe some natural materials in addition (for hybrid programs) and then one of the worst chemicals for your family...an insecticide. These insecticides are typically applied in the late spring and are designed to sit at the surface of the lawn for three to four months killing any bugs that try to hang out in your lawn...including grubs. Here's some surprising information about chemical lawn insecticides.
At Good Nature, we know that 99% of all insects are actually beneficial. The small minority that is a problem can be managed by maintaining a healthy ecosystem. We apply plant oils to coat the grass leaves which strengthen their ability to protect themselves from the 1% of bugs that may cause a problem (it's actually less than 1%). If grubs have been a problem, we can apply a natural soil organism that loves grubs. It's called a beneficial nematode and nematodes like to feed on grubs. The more nematodes you have in your soil, the fewer grubs you'll have. Our application dramatically reduces the chance of grub damage.
Step 4: Repeat
With hybrid or organic-based lawn care companies you'll continue to get chemical weed killers and fertilizers to keep your lawn looking green and weed free.
With Good Nature, we'll continue to feed the soil with our humus building plant-based materials and strengthen the grass with our sea plant extracts and micronutrients.
So, when choosing a lawn care company, be careful about what you're buying. If your company is putting products down that kill things and require you to keep off the grass, ask what they use rather than assuming that they must be safe just because they told you so.
The Bottom Line
If you're OK using chemicals, any old lawn care company will be just fine to meet your needs. If you'd rather avoid chemicals, ask some questions of your lawn care company to learn more about the fine print. We hope you choose a truly natural organic lawn care approach.
Good Nature Organic Lawn Care has been the trusted choice of thousands of Ohio homeowners for many years. However, we do have some good competition. You may want to consider these the following companies that truly practice safer and healthy organic lawn care.
Bauer's Organic Lawn Care