Organic Lawn Care - Reasons to Go Green

Switching to organic lawn care and gardening products and practices begins with an understanding of the dangers of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to the environment, wildlife, and human health.

There is no safe chemical fertilizer, weed killer, or pesticide. Chemical fertilizers poison the environment with their salt base that causes imbalance in the pH of the soil. They cause a toxic buildup of nitrates, contaminating drinking water, rivers, streams, and lakes. They also destroy the good microorganisms in the soil. Synthetic pesticides also poison the environment, some more than others. Some release compounds that become increasingly toxic as they break down in the environment. Some have an accumulative effect and are harmful far beyond the area they were originally applied. Some are longer lasting than others, and some don't break down for a long time, remaining in the soil or water indefinitely.

Of the millions of insect species in the world, less than 5 percent are harmful. When chemical pesticides are used, they do more collateral harm than the pests they kill. Getting rid of aphids and tent caterpillars is desirable, but the use of chemicals will also kill the beneficial ground beetles, ladybugs, fireflies, green lacewings, praying mantis, spiders, bees, and wasps that are useful in pollination and in keeping harmful insects at bay.

When chemicals are applied, there is no way to prevent migration from the application site, whether that be down stream, down wind, or leeching into ground water. The harmful impact to birds, wildlife, and aquatic life is becoming more apparent each year with each new study that's published.

Several studies have also been done that show an increased risk of non-Hodgkinson's Lymphoma in professional lawn care workers and those who work in pesticide manufacturing plants. In addition, inhaling airborne particles and drinking contaminated water can have nothing but harmful affects on homeowners, as well as their neighbors, who use chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

Farmers are becoming increasingly aware of the negative affects of chemical use, and agricultural leaders are actively pursuing alternative methods and products. Yet, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, "Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on their crops."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it's estimated that American homeowners buy 102 million pounds of lawn and garden chemical pesticide products annually, at a cost of more than $2 billion. Additionally, $5 billion is spent each year on fossil-fuel-derived fertilizers. All told, Americans spend over $40 billion on poisonous lawn care products each year.

The National Wildlife Federation and the National Audubon Society are the current leaders in the campaign to educate American farmers, homeowners, and gardeners about the dangers of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the long-term benefits of organic methods. Even Scotts, a well-known manufacturer of chemical lawn care products, is developing a line of organic products to meet the increasing demand.

Organic lawn and garden care is safe, effective, and a responsible alternative to the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, all of which are poisonous and threatening to the health and well-being of everything they contaminate. With a little research and investment of time, all homeowners and gardeners can take steps and make changes to improve their lawn care and gardening practices, to the benefit of everyone.