Contract With A Conscience

Sustainability is the word I hear most often these days when people talk about trends in landscaping and landscape maintenance. Sustainability can be defined as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

The art of selling sustainability. Photo Courtesy Of LandPatterns, Inc.

Is this a new concept? Hardly.

This proactive concept has been taught to children from ecology books that warned, “If we don’t do ‘A’, then ‘B’ will occur, and ‘B’ is a bad thing.”

Because we ignored our lessons, ‘B’ is here, and we are forced to be reactive, using sustainable practices to try to repair what we have destroyed because, if we don’t take care of ‘B,’ then ‘C’ will happen. And ‘C’ is a very, very bad thing.

Let’s be completely honest and admit that the biggest stumbling blocks for the average homeowner (whom we will call M. Smith) to embrace sustainability are:

• Money

• Ease of use

• Money.

Yes, I know I cited money twice, because it’s really important to M. Smith. There is a cost tied to creating a sustainable landscape, and in some cases it is a significant cost.

There is also the perceived cost of maintaining the new landscape organically, which initially is more expensive than maintaining a traditional residential landscape.

Ease of use? Of course, it is easier to spray that evil weed with a nationally advertised Brand X weed killer than spraying it three different times with a vinegar solution. So what if Brand X contains several of the most toxic substances in the environment?

So how do I convince M. Smith to create a sustainable residential landscape? I obviously have to appeal to his sense of decency, but for this to become the status quo, I must show him that he can save money along with saving the environment.

Organic Maintenance

There are thousands of articles and websites explaining the “how’s” of organic maintenance, so let’s talk about how to sell the “why.”

Early in my career, a client called, complaining that her grass had died and needed to be replaced. Yes, her lawn was quite dead, along with most of the shrubs and trees.

But why? Her irrigation system was set correctly and functioned properly, and there was no evidence of insects or diseases.

As I stood with the homeowner discussing the problem, a national chemical lawn-treatment company pulled up and began spraying the dead and dying landscape with … something so toxic that the spray tech wore a hazmat suit and a breather.

Soil tests showed that the lawn chemicals being applied had sterilized the soil. Even if the company stopped spraying immediately, it would still take decades for the chemicals to reach a dilution point where life (microbes, insects, and earthworms) could be sustained again.

Of course, this is an extreme example of greed and incompetence, but these same chemicals are being applied to lawns today, with the same results. In the end, the chemical company was “convinced” to replace the top 4 feet of soil on her property and all of the plant material.

It was not difficult to set that client on the path to organic care.

Synthetic Pesticides And Fertilizers

The health problems caused by agrochemicals are surprisingly well-documented, but that information has been thoroughly suppressed by the chemical manufacturers. The list of chemicals is long, and the effects are frightening.

If your client uses synthetic fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides, their soil is quite dead, and the green grass is merely an illusion that the environment is healthy.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Greening Up The Grass
  2. Winterizing Podcast
  3. Feed A Family
  4. Outdoor Kitchen Blends Trend, Tradition
  5. Ground Cover
  • Columns
  • Departments
  • Issues