Finding a good organic lawn care company can be tough. Many companies offer organic programs – or even have the word organic in their name – but when you investigate further, you find they are anything but! What should we be looking for so we don’t get bamboozled by greenwashing?
Here are some basic questions to ask so you can make a good choice when looking for a lawn care company.
Do they use a soil based approach, or a product swap approach? A true organic program is a soil based approach that begins with a soil test, and then the program is built around cultural practices, fertilizer and amendments to improve its health. Sometimes organic compatible products to manage grubs or weeds are used if indicated, but this should not be the central framework of an organic lawn care program. A “product swap” approach is a program that has scheduled applications of organic weed and grub control products. These programs are typically more expensive and ineffective. When you hear people say, “organic is expensive and doesn’t work,” this is what they are referencing – not a true organic soil based approach.
Are the products and materials being used really organic? Organic land care standards have preferred, allowed, and prohibited substances. These standards are available online at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) website. One easy way to know if a product is organic is to look for Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) certification. Some companies will use organic fertilizer and synthetic toxic pesticides while calling the program “organic.” Others will use fertilizer that’s prohibited by organic standards, like “biosolids” which is municipal sewage sludge. If a company is not up front about exactly the products and ingredients they will be using, and does not share this information with people inquiring about their services, this should be a red flag.
Are they accredited in organic land care? There are currently only two certifications for organic lawn care companies. AOLCP and OLCAP. These accreditations can be searched online on the NOFA organic land care website and Organic Landscape Association (OLA) website. This is how you know the person you are hiring has had proper training in organic practices.
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