Monday, February 16, 2009

Green Lawn Care: A Tale of Two Families

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A FACTSHEET FROM
SAFER PEST CONTROL PROJECT
February------------------------------------

The Green Family looks through gardening catalogs to get ideas for their year. They order wildflower seeds to border their lawn, to make it a more manageable size.

The Brown Family looks through gardening catalogs to get ideas for their yard. They order vegetable seeds so their kids can grow a garden.

March----------------------------------------

The Green Family spreads corn gluten meal to prevent weeds from sprouting in the lawn.

The Browns apply a pre-emergent herbicide. They keep their children off the lawn for 24 hours as specified by the product label.

April------------------------------------------

The Green Family sharpens their lawn mower's blades.

The Brown Family's lawn has a few weeds and the lawn looks good.

May-------------------------------------------

The Green Family's children pull dandelions that survived from last year, every day for a week.

June------------------------------------------

The Greens spread an organic fertilizer on the grass. The organic matter holds the nutrients in spite of several rains, and releases them slowly throughout the season.

The Browns apply a synthetic fertilizer to the grass. The synthetic fertilizer delivers an immediate greenup of the lawn, but the unused nutrients end up in the groundwater, contributing to a decrease in water quality.

July------------------------------------------

The Greens' lawn looks good for the party they have on the 4th of July.

The Browns apply an herbicide to kill weeds. The spray drifts on their children's vegetable garden and accidentally kills all the plants. Additionally, the kids have to stay off the lawn for 24 hours, so they celebrate the 4th of July at someone else's house. While they are out, a neighbor's child chases her dog across their yard, barefooted, thus exposing them both to unnecessary pesticide exposure.

August---------------------------------------

The Greens water the lawn once a week. The lawn is greener than many of their neighbors who are watering daily. With deep roots in the healthy soil, the grass is not stressed very easily.

The Brown Family's children water the lawn every day for the whole month, but nothing seems to help their lawn in the heat. The daily watering also encourages white grubs (a pest that destroys grass roots).

September-----------------------------------

The Greens spread grass seed suitable for their somewhat shady lawn and add compost to help their grass out-compete weeds for the next season.

The Browns apply a synthetic fertilizer and accidentally burn the grass because the dosage was too high. They also spray an insecticide to kill the white grubs. The children can't play on the lawn for 24 hours, according to the insecticide label.

RESULT-------------------------------------

The Greens have a healthy lawn, and a lawn that will have fewer weeds next year. Their grass is also more resistant to disease and insect problems. Their children can safely play on it all summer.

The Browns have a green lawn, but it needs constant watering and fertilization. The need for weed control will be just as great next year. The Browns have unknowingly contributed to water contamination and have exposed their children to hazardous herbicides and insecticides.

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A TALE OF TWO FAMILIES: THE SEQUEL

February-------------------------------------

The Green Family's lawn was a lot of work last year, so they decide to hire a lawn care provider who offers an organic program, free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

The Brown Family receives a call from a conventional lawn care service. Since they maintained their own lawn last year, and it was a lot of work, they decide to hire the conventional service, who will treat their yard with herbicides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizers.

April-----------------------------------------

The Green Family's organic lawn care service applies a compost, corn gluten, and organic fertilizer. The organic matter holds the nutrients in spite of several rains, and releases them slowly throughout the season.

The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer and a pre-emergent herbicide. Much of the nutrients are washed off in the next rain and end up in the groundwater. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries, according to company literature.

June-----------------------------------------

The Green Family hand picks a few weeds.

The Brown Family's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer and an herbicide. After playing on the lawn, one of the Brown children complains of dizziness and feeling sick to her stomach. These symptoms could be a result of the pesticide application.

July-------------------------------------------

The Green's organic lawn care service applies an organic fertilizer.

The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer. The excess of nitrogen from the fertilizer application has encouraged aphids, so the company applies an insecticide as well as another dose of herbicide. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries.

August--------------------------------------

The Green's organic lawn care service scouts for white grubs, but the Greens have only a few per square foot--not enough to damage their healthy lawn. As a precaution against possible problems, the service applies Milky Spore, a naturally occurring bacteria which will inoculate the lawn against grubs over the course of a few applications.





The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a fertilizer and an insecticide to control white grubs. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries.

September------------------------------------

The Green family's organic lawn care service spreads grass seed suitable for the Greens' somewhat shady lawn and adds compost to help their grass out-compete weeds for the next season.

The Brown's conventional lawn care service applies a synthetic fertilizer and an herbicide. The children are not allowed to play on the lawn until the grass dries.

October--------------------------------------

The Green's organic lawn care service applied another round of organic fertilizer.

The Brown's conventional law care service applies fertilizer.

RESULT------------------------------------

The Green Family has a healthy lawn, and it will have fewer weeds next year. Their grass is also more resistant to disease and insect problems. The children can safely play on it all summer. The Greens paid $250 for the season.

The Browns have a green lawn, but it is reliant on fertilizer and is easily damaged by insects and drought. The need for weed control will be just as great next year. The Browns paid $300 for the season.

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Source: A Tale of Two Families and the graphic above are provided to Organic Journey Online courtesy of the Safer Pest Control Project, dedicated to reducing the health risks and environmental impacts of pesticides and promoting safer alternatives. For more information, they can be reached at:





Safer Pest Control Project
25 E. Washington Suite 1515
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 641-5575
(312) 641-5454
http://www.spcpweb.org/

















For information on organic lawn care in Central Florida contact my provider at Jolly Green Planet.
Speaking of local companies, if you're a Central Florida resident, you might enjoy checking out a great blog which reviews local companies, products and services, Central Florida Green Guide.
I have just signed on as a regular contributor for CFGG, and my first post, Hoover's Essential Health Market--a Hidden Gem, appeared Friday, February 13. There is quite a variety of reviews on this site, so stop in and check it out sometime. You'll be glad you did.

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