Ethics in Lawn care

matthias_langJune 15, 2006

Do you think there are important ethical questions in lawn care which really deserve to be addressed by professionals in contact with the public? I'll be direct and say that I have in mind issues such as

-whether one neighbor owes it to other neighbors to keep his own lawns free of weeds that neighbors do not like so that seeds do not spread to others' lawns?

-if so, what if one neighbor adores nitrogen giving, sweetly blooming, honeybee attracting, sprinkles of white clover in the lawn, while the neighbor abhors it?

-Should one strive to do without broadleaf weed killers?

-Should one practice integrated pest management?

-Is it okay to run the riding mower at 7:00 a.m. in a suburban neighborhood on a Saturday if that is our own best time to do it?

-Is it okay to fertilize the gentle slope on my front lawn even if I have a good notion that there is run-off into the street gutter and then into storm drains during and after a rain?

-Should I water my lawn to always keep in green if I live in an area where the collective lawn watering quite nearly empties the nearby river?

There are many, many other ethical questions that come up on our existing lawn care forum. I hope that you are able to earnestly share opinions about these sorts of issues, and that perhaps you bring them up even when your client or homeowner does not.

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Thank you very much for the inquiry. You have brought up many great points that I would, could and have debated in public and classrooms for years. I do believe that everyone should be entitled to have the lawn of his or her choice as long as it meets city ordinances. At the same time, I think you should strive not to stick out in a neighborhood as it does not promote good will. My key purpose has been to educate people that taking care of a lawn is not hard work if you stay on top of it. I sometimes use the analogy of taking care or your teeth to taking care of the lawn. Regular care and issues are small. Any thing short of this and the chances for problems increase often with resources going up. One component where this analogy falters is the affect of Mother Nature. Water, heat and humidity all play a major roll in the ability to maintain grass. Some summers it is relatively easy if Mother Nature cooperates, other times it is brutal.

To answer some of your questions, it is impossible have a weed free lawn, but a lawn that is well maintained will be highly resistant to weed seeds invading a turf. The weed seeds must achieve a light requirement in order to germinate. This is difficult in a dense healthy lawn. For this reason you will see less broadleaf weeds and even less use of herbicides. To achieve this requires a balance of mowing, fertility and water. Proper mowing will do more to make a lawn dense than most imagine. There is no need to wake anyone early, but this is more a common sense issue. These three practices are the foundation to IPM.

Fertility is a key for weed control as well. Slow release fertilizers like Polyon provide us with a great opportunity to slowly feed the lawn with minimal chance for runoff. The pellets work there way into the turf. The key to applications near impervious surfaces is sweeping the excess fertilizer up after you are finished with the application, just as you would sweep a floor. This is what will get into the storm drain.

Again thanks for the inquiry. I hope I have shared my opinion adequately with you.


Trey Rogers
The Yard Doctor

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 2:50PM
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Is anyone familiar with a case where someone was growing a 'lawn alternative' (such as a meadow or wildflower garden) for environmental reasons and came up against a town lawn mowing ordinance? I am researching this because I allow my grass to grow all season, mowing only a part. It creates a beautiful meadow. However, our town is now considering a lawn mowing ordinance. I want to make sure that the language does not prohibit people like myself from naturalizing a lawn. (I want to eliminate the use of power equipment from my landscape and encourage birds) All help will be appreciated. Thanks, Kathy

Here is a link that might be useful: Kathy's page

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 9:43PM
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