Lawn Care and Landscaping in a Changing Environment
by Gordy Petschow
Turf development and landscapes are more than cosmetic additions to a home. In today’s world, health, environment, and economic concerns have risen and are factors for homeowners to consider when managing and planning for their future. Lawn care is more than purchasing a bag of fertilizer at the local retail store, taking it home, applying it in record time, and justifying the action that money has been saved. Lawn care now involves knowing what is in the contents of the bag and understanding what the results can do when it is applied, what is the actual cost, and what are the health and environmental concerns to family, pets, and livestock.
A healthy lawn and thriving plant species begin with interest in and education of the subject. With these primary prerequisites, it soon becomes apparent that success begins with the recognition that environmental, ecological knowledge and principles are the starting point for success and sustainability of any land-use endeavors. Without it, a beautiful landscape can become an expensive short-lived investment. When plants or turf are lost, it’s usually because for some reason the plant cannot function in its present conditions. Those conditions are not meeting its intrinsic characteristics and needs. It can be the physical environment in which it is grown, such as soil, water, and air, it may be the geographic and site location, or it may be that it has been overwhelmed with toxins sprayed or spread on the lawn. It can be sometimes traced back to poor nutrition, which in turn creates weak cells and immune system or imbalanced soil and body chemistry. These factors cannot always be visibly seen but can be influential in causing health problems in turf, shrubs, pets, and family members. They require further examination and testing before making a decision on why the species is exhibiting a sickly, weak appearance. It is also necessary not just to know but to be willing to accept and implement a positive change that will be more than trying to treat the symptom and add to an increasing cost or loss of investment. It is important to know how the environment and species interact with each other. Living species have varying degrees of tolerance within the intrinsic parameters in which they live. To force it to live in stress is costly and the species cannot over time survive.
Promoting and maintaining life in the soil, and not merely applying a stimulus and toxins that degrade the base and cause stress, should be the goal. Apply those products that bring healthy, positive, lasting results. Second, remember that all living beings are formed from cells. Cells require minerals, air, and water in adequate natural amounts that are toxin free. For healthy living, most plants and crops need about 1 inch of water per week with a minimum of sixteen varieties of minerals.
We can understand the crop status by soil testing thoroughly and seeing the status of the soil and how much nutrition it is receiving. All living beings need more than two or three minerals if they are expected to produce adequately. Crops can grow tall and green on two minerals, but they will have shallow, weak roots with weak cell health and mineral deficiency and will be more readily subject to disease and insects. Color or quantity alone does not necessarily mean health or adequate nutrition coming from the quality of the its own environmental base. Quality of the product also has its place. Consequently, we treat the emerging problems with toxins and more costly stimulus, trying to control the numerous diseases and attacking insects that keep occurring, while at the same time increasing our management costs and neglecting other parts of the environment and ecology.
Is there a better solution that maintains, protects, and balances the environment and sustains the resources? Yes, using organic and conservation methods. Whether managing turf, growing crops, or managing a lake’s future, the organic method begins to reverse the negative effects from toxins we see in our lakes, streams, drinking water, and soil. It begins to build life, nutrition, and harmony with nature. This change can be achieved in a shorter or longer period of time. It depends on how the land has been treated with toxicity, out of balance soils, and the degree of concern of the landowner.
What are some of the positive aspects we seek to achieve? 1. Restoration and building of the growing topsoil base 2. Biological life increases and less stress on the resources with milder land management methods 3. Healthier populations of plant and animal species at lower production costs 4. Healthier cells with greater balanced nutrition leading to healthier immune systems and living organisms 5. Healthier, cleaner drinking water 6. Lower environmental costs 7. Sustainability and growth of the base resources 8. Greater economic opportunity
Idealistic thinking? Some feel it is not feasible, too costly, and not conventional. You choose.
What about cost? Recent research shows that organics out-perform conventional methods in cost per acre and equal to bushel per acres. In turf care and landscaping, green, healthy, and dense lawns that have fewer weeds can be more easily managed.
In the grocery store, prices of organic produce average about the same to 75 cents per item higher than conventionally grown food. The results are now being increasingly confirmed by health professionals, for both animal and human, that organics can be an effective choice with fewer side effects. Balancing with nature and its interrelated operating procedures—ecology—is a viable option worth exploring.
In summary, balancing with nature and working within ecological processes brings sustainability, production, and less cost. Outside these parameters, the cost is transferred to higher medical, environmental, and fertilizer and toxic weed control costs, and possibly loss of life in living organisms, as well as the loss of the base resources, revenue, and agriculture.
We at Midwest Environmental Consultants focus on balancing and promoting environmental and land use planning–economically sustaining the resource without toxic chemicals. Call us today for a free consultation at 715-878-4472. Explore the possibilities, ask questions, and see the results that can be possible. We have over fifty years of education and experience in environmental and natural resources, landscaping, agriculture, and gardening.