What's Hybrid Organic Lawn Care
by Alec McClennan, on April 29, 2022
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 actually saying is that they're still using all the same chemicals that 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 a more environmentally friendly and safe service. 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
1: Fertilizer & Pre-Emergent Weed Control
Organic Based and Hybrid Lawn Care Programs will 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'll 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 hours. Come again?! 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 (3.5" – 4") will prevent as much crabgrass as any chemical. So skip the chemical pre-emergent and consider Good Nature's corn and plant oil-based products to discourage annual weeds like crabgrass.
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 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 are ever too many weeds for our natural approach to tackle, we can use a chemical post-emergent weed killer to get things under control, at your request. The best time to use a chemical is during 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!
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 is some surprising information about chemical lawn insecticides.
At Good Nature, we know that 99% of all insects are actually beneficial. The small minority that are 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 have an Organic Grub Control Program, which dramatically reduces and prevents the chance of grub damage. We apply a natural soil organism called Beneficial Nematodes, that love to feed on grubs and other turf-damaging insects. You can think of them as soil probiotics, and the more Beneficial Nematodes you have in your soil, the fewer grubs you will have feasting on your lawn (and the fewer weeds you are likely to have).
With hybrid or organic-based lawn care companies you become reliant on chemical weed killers and fertilizers and will need to continue applying them to keep your lawn looking green and free of weeds.
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. We've outlined some good questions when hiring a lawn care company at the bottom of this page.
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 the lawn care company you're considering some questions 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 companies that truly practice safer and healthy organic lawn care, such as the below.