Monday, March 22, 2010

new organic lawn care option in the neighborhood

Today I got home from a walk to find a flyer on my door that offered some welcome news. Scott Ware Landscape Design (773-445-8479), which is been primarily a design-and-build landscaping service, has decided to offer organic lawn care service.

I've been impressed with the quality of Scott Ware's designs and installations around the neighborhood. I should note that I am NOT a current customer and do not have any financial interest in the business. These comments are from the perspective of a neighborhood resident and gardener who is frustrated by the mainstream toxic approach to landscape care.

In the years since I moved to the neighborhood, I've seen many lawns that have not done well under the traditional approach used by most lawn services. These lawns are mowed on a fixed schedule, regardless of what the weather has been since the last mowing and how much the grass has grown. Cutting grass too short and/or too often is a common practice, which stresses the grass and affects its root growth, making it more vulnerable to insect damage and disease. When the inevitable happens, the lawn is then treated with chemicals to fight the insect damage and disease.

Many beneficial micro-organisms and animals are killed along with those that were targeted by the chemical treatments. Without the beneficial creatures, the grass becomes more vulnerable, and is treated with more chemicals. Worms are permeated with chemicals. Birds eat the contaminated worms and die. Later in the season, when the mosquitoes get bad, there are fewer birds around to eat them. Dogs and children who walk or play on the chemically-treated lawns may end up inadvertently getting the chemicals into their systems, with potentially bad results. This is somewhat of a simplification, but I think you get my point.

An organic, holistic approach is very different. If grass is allowed to grow a little longer, it can grow a healthier root structure, making it less vulnerable to insects and disease. In a dry period when the grass has grown less, it can be allowed to go longer between mowings. Many lawn-attacking insects have natural predators, including other insects and micro-organisms. Use of these biological controls does not involve toxic chemicals. Use of organic fertilizers along with a mulching lawn mower, which leaves grass and leaf bits behind to compost in the lawn, eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers.

The flyer advertises "Lawns mowed only when they need it. Chemical-free weed and insect control." I think it's a great idea that they're offering this as a pilot program and hope it will be a big success.

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