Life is busy. You probably have a long list of things that you consider more important than what you treat your lawn with right? You're not alone, most people devote about 10 minutes thinking about their lawn when they see the dandelions sprout. At that point they either make a trip to the local hardware store or pickup the phone and call someone to come out and "take care of" the weeds.
ll argue that what you put on your lawn is worth a little more thought.
Traditional lawn chemicals have the potential to cause all kinds of health issues and there is very good reason to consider a healthier organic approach to your lawn care. Your lawn is supposed to contribute positively to your overall health. It should be a place that you and your family can run around, get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air. Why then, would we consider putting chemicals on the lawn that according to many can actually cause health issues? Visit Beyond Pesticides for more information about some of the health effects of commonly used lawn and garden chemicals.
The good news is that the lawn care industry is finally catching on that the public is interested in healthier alternatives and organic lawn care options. The bad news is that there are a lot of companies starting to pop up touting a Natural Based or Organic Based approach that are really using the same old chemical approach. It can be confusing!
Read on for some tips about what to look for and how to choose an organic lawn care company that is safer for you, your family, and your environment.
Here are some standard chemical programs that appear to be organic programs until you look a little more closely.
The lawn program below touts Bio-Nutrients and claims to reduce chemical usage by up to 50%. If that's the case, then it is an improvement on the old fashioned standard chemical program. Upon further inspection, you can tell that they still use all the same pre emergent chemicals, post emergent chemicals, chemical insecticides and synthetic fertilizer that a standard chemical approach uses. So, for all practical purposes, it really is a chemical lawn care program. If you don't mind the standard chemical lawn care program, then it is probably a good approach for you. If you don't want to use the chemicals though, it isn't so good.
The lawn care company brochure below is a great example of the confusing marketing out there. It touts a "natural based" fertilizer. Sounds good - who wouldn't want a natural based fertilzer?
Natural Based and Organic Based are a little tricky. In order to call something natural based or organic based it needs to contain at least 25% of it's material by weight from organic sources. That means it is 75% synthetic. Often the organic in organic based products is composted sewage. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it really is a standard chemical program that adds in a little organic materal as a nutrient source and still requires the same old chemicals to prevent and kill weeds, insects, and diseases.
Here are a few questions you can ask to get a better sense of what you'll really be getting.
Genuine organic companies will use a plant-based, pre-emergent weed control...usually Corn Gluten Meal. If a company uses a chemical pre-emergent weed control, remember that this forms a chemical blanket that sits on your lawn for 3 to 4 months in order to prevent weeds. But, natural, Corn Gluten Meal is found in many of the foods you eat and is a much better, and safer, choice for pre-emergent weed control.
Genuine organic companies will use Milky Spore or beneficial Nematodes to control grubs. Beneficial nematodes may be the better choice for controlling grubs because Milky Spore only controls Japanese Beetle grubs. Both are non-toxic. If a company uses Imacloprid (Merit, Mach II, Bayer Advanced, GrubEx) or some other form of Grub Control, that's a chemical and sits on your lawn's surface for the entire season. Milky Spore and Nematodes are the safer choice.
If a company uses organic fertilizer that does not suppress weeds, then you'll probably have a fair amount of weeds. If they use Corn Gluten, there will be fewer weeds. If they rely only on chemicals to control weeds, you'll be getting more chemicals than you want.
Organic-based or Natural Based fertilizers contain 25% organic material...the rest is synthetic. Plant-based, feed-grade fertilizers and good quality compost and compost tea are generally the highest quality fertilizers and help your landscape thrive without chemicals.
Companies that do mostly chemical lawn care but offer an organic option are generally less committed to helping you reduce or eliminate chemicals in your lawn than companies who focus solely on providing an organic approach.
Hopefully these tips will help you choose an organic lawn care company that will provide you with a beautiful lawn and peace of mind, naturally. If you're in Ohio, there is a good chance we can help you with our services. If you live outside the state of Ohio, you might consider visiting our online store. You can purchase products we've used and tested in our service business. If you really want to hire a company and can't find one in your area, give us a call and we might be able to refer someone to you or help your landscaper treat your lawn organically for you.