Natural vs. Conventional Yard Care Systems: Did you know that ...
Robust natural systems don’t need synthetic inputs.
Organic doesn’t come in a bag because a system doesn’t come in a bag—natural yard care is more than just something you buy instead of a more toxic spray or pellet. While it’s true that some products, such as fertilizers, can be labeled organic, there’s no "silver bullet" input or even series of inputs that can replace a healthy community of micro-organisms living in your garden’s soil. In a natural system, it’s these organisms that work together to produce the nutrients that your plants need to grow and thrive as well as protect themselves from disease and insects.
Natural yard care is very different from chemical yard care.
Many conventional landscapers use the same battle plan every season—laying down chemicals to kill unwanted plants and insects, then adding synthetic fertilizers to partially replace nutrients that are lost when good organisms are also destroyed. Experienced organic or no-chem landscape professionals use a range of strategies to help you grow a healthy, beautiful yard depending on the specific needs of your garden. For example, rather than using pesticides, they may use their own recipes to attract beneficial insects. Instead of using herbicides and synthetic fertilizers, they may apply corn gluten and compost. Natural landscapers may also use bagged amendments but if they do, they’re usually certified organic products.
Even organic fertilizers and pesticides can have negative environmental impacts.
Misuse of even organic inputs can impact soil and watershed and all pesticides, even the least harmful, can still hurt non-target organisms.
Natural garden care doesn’t need to cost more.
Achieving a successful, affordable natural landscape comes down to the ability of the gardener/landscaper as well as the condition of the property itself, weather, climate and other challenges specific to that yard and that season. Switching from conventional to natural systems will take some time and initial costs may be higher. On the other hand, cost is relative. Conventional care means frequent applications of chemicals (often on a regular schedule whether your property needs it or not) and since the soil under conventional maintenance is generally less healthy, the plants in that soil are more vulnerable to insect and disease which itself may raise maintenance or replacement costs.
Education is key.
Learn all you can about alternatives to synthetic lawn and garden care. Ask your landscaper whether he or she can stop using chemicals and still get the results you want. Let’s redefine what we mean by a beautiful and healthy yard. The Rye Sustainability Committee is here to help make that happen!
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