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Organic Lawn Care – How to Choose?

by Mar 27, 2013Blog

It’s springtime in Ohio, well at least it should be, and it’s time to start thinking about our lawns. Soon they will emerge from winter dormancy and the quest will begin to feed and manicure them to the best of our abilities. Society and habit have us programmed to head to hardware for the first bag in the good old four-step program. If they sell it here it must be safe…right? Or better yet, just pick of the phone and call on your local trusty franchise and have them take care of it. 

Perhaps it’s time we take a step back and think about just what we are putting on our lawns.

What are lawn chemicals?

Traditional lawn chemicals come in all forms. They can be in small spray bottles at the hardware store or even premixed with synthetic fertilizers (remember that first bag in the four-step program). They can also be mixed right into the applications from a traditional service and blanket sprayed across the entire lawn. 

Why to avoid them-

Lawn chemicals have been linked to an array of human and animal health problems including cancer, reproductive disorder and birth defects. A recent article from the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reviews rising concerns regarding pesticide exposure in children. You can also visit Beyond Pesticides to explore more information on how to avoid dangerous lawn chemicals.Our lawn should be a place to play and enjoy the great outdoors with our family and pets. Why then, would we blanket this very area with dangerous chemicals all season long?

Hope on the horizon…

The lawn care industry and it’s suppliers are working to provide you with better alternatives to the same old products and services. But be careful, just like in other industries there are lots of confusing options out there. Worse yet, there are no regulations in lawn care for the use of the terms ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ so you have to be careful!

What does ‘Organic-Based’ or ‘Natural-Based’ mean?

Organic? Natural? Sounds great, sign me up! But hold on, what does this really mean? Unfortunately a lot of these companies that have an ‘environmentally friendly approach are still using the same chemical products as a traditional program. Organic-based fertilizers are still mostly synthetic with some organic material. This organic matter is usually re-manufactured human waste/sewage sludge or biosolids. Sometimes only one or two applications during the season contain any organic matter at all.What about the chemicals? Most of these programs still regularly include the use of all of the same chemical products. These companies may claim to use up to 50% less chemicals. Which could actually be 50% more chemicals than you thought you were getting. 

Ask your lawn care provide the right questions…

Consider some the following questions to find out what you are really getting.

What do you use for pre emergent weed control?

A true organic lawn care company will use some form of corn gluten for this purpose, either liquid or granular will do the trick. If a company uses a chemical pre emergent this will form a chemical barrier over your entire lawn that can stay in place for up to twelve weeks!

Do you spray for weeds?

There are now organic weed control products available. Corn gluten and the use of natural and organic weed control products paired with proper cultural practices can do a great job of managing weed populations. If a company doesn’t offer these services then it is likely that they either use chemical weed control or do nothing at all for weeds. Many chemical weed controls contain 2-4D, which just so happened to be one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange. 

What exactly is in your fertilizer?

Organic-based fertilizers are mostly synthetic and contain a small amount of organic material. Some of these organic materials may be derived from human or animal waste. True organic programs will not contain synthetic materials. They will rely on plant-based fertilizers and compost teas. Find out the difference between organic and ‘organic-based’.

Do you offer Organic and Chemical programs?

Companies that offer mostly chemical and organic-based programs generally relay on traditional methods and chemicals. It’s their solution to the problem, the can’t help it. Genuine organic companies work to naturally prevent these problems before they happen so that the chemicals aren’t needed. An organic provider will be more committed to providing you with a chemical free lawn to give you the results and the peace of mind you desire. 


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