Lawn care chemicals are the wrong “shade” of green.

Just the other day I was driving through the neighborhood with our kids and a smell started to fill the car (and it wasn’t “compliments” of either of the kids because there were no “accompanying giggles!”).

grassWe rounded the corner and I immediately spotted the TruGreen (ChemLawn) truck.  It was sitting in front of a house and idling(!) while the “lawn tech” doused the yard in streams of harsh, nasty, polluting chemical fertilizers and weed killers.  My first reaction was (sincerely) “my god, I used to let that happen in my yard”.  And then I felt ashamed that I ever let it happen.  Next, I wanted to tell my kids to briefly stop breathing.  Then I envisioned screaming at the lawn guy to “turn off his truck!” … followed by knocking on the door and vigorously shaking the homeowner.

Why such the obsession for having the greenest, most pristine lawn on the block?  Do they think the weeds will crawl in the window late some night?  Or someone will pass “judgment” based on their lawn? The reality is that these chemicals are pollutants.  The runoff works its way to ground water, pollutes surface water through the soil and causes major contamination.  It also threatens wildlife and the beneficial insects.

I think about walking through the lawn and then walking into our homes, WITH our shoes, and I shudder.  Every chemical you just walked through spreads itself all over your home and into the indoor air.  And what about those precious LITTLE BARE FEET that touch the lawn?  It’s like walking into a chemical field.  I could never dream of subjecting our kids to such dangerous conditions.  Research has shown that chemical lawn fertilizers and pesticides can present numerous symptoms, including respiratory problems, nervous system disorders, and aggravation of pre-existing conditions (such as asthma) and our children happen to be the most vulnerable.grass-lawn

Now consider this: Each year, in the US, over 103 million pounds of toxic chemicals are applied to lawns in our pursuit of “visual appeal”. That’s all it really is… an aesthetically pleasing look.  This post could go on forever (and in the very near future, I will give more information about regular practices you can adopt to have a healthier lawn) but for now, if you feel you MUST pamper your lawn, at least consider greener solutions.

Check out NaturaLawn of America or (if you’re in Ohio) GoodNature, provider of lawn care for our beloved Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  This hasn’t even scratched the surface, but there are great do-it-yourself solutions that I promise to provide… soon!

But, for now, to top things off, the very next day there was a ‘hanger’ dangling from a door knob on the front of my house.  TruGreen’s “Anthony” was offering me a monthly estimate of $53 to contaminate my yard… and family… and the environment.  Thanks, but no thanks, Anthony.  Move on.

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9 thoughts on “Lawn care chemicals are the wrong “shade” of green.

  1. Pingback: Weekly Green Round-Up

  2. While I’m all in favor of reducing the inputs and impact on the environment for lawns, landscapes, agriculture, and industry, please consider that lawns are managed to be healthy and green for more than aesthetic purposes. Can you imagine forcing our children to play sports on bare dirt or hard dry weedy patches of earth? Don’t forget that green healthy grass filters impurities, dust, and other pollutants from water and air. Moreover, look at the cooling affect green healthy landscapes provide….you can see the ‘heat island’ affects in many urban areas. Healthy landscapes can be maintained with minimal inputs, but Healthy Green Grass is better than thin, dead, weedy patches of ground that don’t filter water and air, don’t hold soil in place, don’t cool the environment, and don’t provide nice living and outdoor recreation areas.

    I’m not saying pour chemicals all over everything, but use integrated pest management and best management protocols to monitor pests, control irrigation and management to maximize the health of the landscape and the health of the neighborhood. Don’t forget about economics and mental well being. Well maintained landscapes make people fell more at home and also increase property values.

    Ok, that’s my 2 cents. Reduce inputs but still maintain healthy landscapes.

  3. Pingback: » The greenest lawn, the green way. - Mom Goes Green

  4. I have a green, healthy lawn and all I do is mow it and water it once a week in the late summer/fall when it gets really dry.

    What I hate is walking down the sidewalk with my dog and my child and suddenly noticing the sign on the lawn that says its been treated with chemicals and to keep pets and kids off. Then I notice the little pellets of chemicals all over the sidewalk. On top of that the lawn companies have the gall to “remind” their customers to clean up overspray on the sidewalk. like that’s going to happen. They should keep the chemicals only on the lawn, if they’re going to use them at all.

    On top of that, I have gotten my neighbors chemlawn “we treated your lawn today” door hangers on my house. Are they sometimes accidentally spraying my lawn?

  5. Rod – I agree that lawns can and should be maintained to some degree to keep them healthy and “productive” but it needs to be done with an awareness and consideration for HOW it’s being maintained. Unfortunately, I still believe that far too many homeowners and commercial properties AREN’T considering the effects of their actions to maintain healthy lawns and they’re doing whatever they need to do to see that it IS aesthetically pleasing and NOT simply for the environmental, productive purpose of a lawn.

    Gus – Agreed on all points! … and I would be REALLY concerned if those door hangers were showing up on your door! Yikes!

  6. @Gus; In my state, the applicator is supposed to clean up the sidewalk and driveway. None of the professionals that I deal with ever ‘remind’ the homeowner to clean up their product off the hard surfaces. Most professionals use a broom or leaf blower to put the products back into the lawn where they will be safe from runoff and quickly bind to the thatch and soil so they will be safe for people. Knowing the green industry as I do, I suspect most states have this rule. However, there are always nonprofessionals who do things on the cheap side and try to skip the rules. That’s the one of the many reasons I recommend hiring a quality lawncare professional.

    If you received a door hanger, your lawn was probably treated. And I would call and complain. Not to bash Chemlawn, but sometimes they can act a little like the Kmart of lawncare. More is better, customer service and quality products aren’t that important. (Hire a high quality professional, you’ll probably pay more than Chemlawn, but you will probably get more in return.)

    @Doreen
    I would agree that many homeowners don’t always consider what they are doing. But I would argue that ‘most’ professionals that manage commercial properties and residential properties are highly educated in plant health care, soil and water relations, environmental stewardship, and practice financial good sense. If they don’t know how to take care of plants, environment, and their finances by not wasting product, they won’t be in business too long. (I say most professionals, because there are a few who are not so professional). Again, another reason to hire a quality landscape professional, check out http://www.landcarenetwork.org and http://www.projectevergreen.com/

    That’s where people like you and me come in Doreen. You have a public voice in the world here on your page. You should be helping people to learn proper landscape maintenance that benefits the environment, the neighborhood, and the people that live in it. Not propagating the fear and non-science based myths that green grass is bad.

    Thank you for your comments, I’m glad you both replied.

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