Profiles in Prevention -- NaturaLawn of America

Natural lawn in Minnesota

Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund are recognizing the people and organizations who have made choices that have prevented pollution from entering our environment.  Some actions are big, some are small, but all of them matter.

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NaturaLawn of America is a nationwide business with franchises in 24 states including 4 locations in the Twin Cities, Minnesota

NaturaLawn of America pioneered environmentally responsible lawn care three decades ago. While chemical-based companies continued to randomly spray unnecessary chemicals and pesticides, NaturaLawn of America developed an Integrated Pest Management System (IPM), which was unprecedented at the time. Environmental stewardship continues to drive the company. Company leadership and staff believe it's their responsibility to educate homeowners and commercial users that the picture-perfect, weed-free, insect-free lawn is a myth that endorses unnecessary and irresponsible pesticide use.

NaturaLawn works to bring homeowners a healthier, environmentally friendlier lawn than traditional chemical lawn care companies at comparable prices because a huge price increase would put safer lawn care out of reach for many people.

Pollution Prevention Accomplishment

NaturaLawn choose environmental stewardship over traditional lawn care practices.

While the rest of the lawn care industry continued to randomly spray pesticides whether needed or not, NaturaLawn developed an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, which was unprecedented in lawn care. Compared to traditional chemical lawn care companies, IPM systems reduced weed and insect control usage on lawns by over 85%. It also helps by preserving the natural enemies of our turf pests, by introducing newly developed turf varieties with natural pest resistance, and by providing continuing consumer education on the proper cultural practices of mowing and watering. (See below for amounts of pollution prevented)

What is IPM?

IPM is a complete lawn care management system that provides for reduced, better and safer use of materials designed to control insects, weeds and diseases. Successful programs are based on:

  • Prevention
  • Monitoring
  • Controlling

Why is IPM important?

IPM protects the health of kids, pets and families. Prevention includes conserving the natural enemies of turf pests by selective use of biological and synthetic controls, planting improved varieties of turf that have natural resistance to insect and disease attacks and using good cultural practices (i.e. mowing, watering, aeration and thatch removal). Monitoring includes NaturaLawn of America technicians inspecting lawns and soil for problem pests throughout the growing year, comparing the information recorded during these monitoring visits with weather conditions, the pest's behavior and its stage of development, as well as the lawn's history. Control includes using biological or chemical treatments only when necessary to prevent major lawn damage. This involves saving beneficial insects that may help destroy the pests that damage lawns -- the purpose of control is not to get rid of all pests but rather to hold damage to an acceptable or unnoticeable level.

What were the barriers to overcome?

The concept of pest management can trace its beginning back to early agriculture and organic gardening. Today's Integrated Pest Management for lawn care is very new—NaturaLawn of America was the pioneer and challenged the old tradition of "see and spray" pest control. Aside from the systematic and cultural barriers to IPM compared to traditional chemical lawn care the company had to overcome customers believing they were not getting their money’s worth if they weren’t spraying the whole lawn or using powerful toxic chemicals to kill things.  Though after the customers see the great results with their integrated pest management without needing to use as toxic of chemicals or as many toxics they are won over.

What lessons did you learn?

A big lesson learned for the company was that controlling insect damage on lawns can be accomplished by using biological, biorational controls (derived from items in nature) as opposed to synthetic pesticides (man-made). NaturaLawn of America prefers to use a biological or biorational approach when the option is available. Biological controls are "living" materials that can attack and limit damaging turf insects. Some examples of biological controls are Milky Spore, Nematodes and BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis). Some examples of biorational controls are NEEM (oil extract), pyrethrum (extract from chrysanthemums) and insecticidal soaps (derived from fatty acids).

How much pollution has NaturaLawn prevented?

Within the first two years of operation, NaturaLawn of America reduced the amount of weed control and insect control by more than 86% and 93% respectively, as compared to traditional chemical lawn care. In fact, traditional chemical lawn care would have used in excess of 1,500 gallons of herbicide (weed control) and in excess of 600 gallons of insecticide (insect control) to treat the same amount of acreage. These chemical and pesticide reductions significantly demonstrate NaturaLawn of America’s environmental stewardship.

In five years alone, NaturaLawn of America reduced the usage of petroleum-based fertilizers by more than 12.5 million pounds, and prevented more than 5 million gallons of petroleum-based pesticides from entering into our environment, as compared to traditional chemical lawn care.

More importantly, the company has accomplished these reductions in potential environmental pollutants without sacrificing the quality of the lawns grown by homeowners.

What's next?

NaturaLawn is always looking for new approaches and innovations in lawn care; whether that is new research into better treatment options or finding new ways to use biorational control instead of synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides. As any good business does, they are also working on winning over more customers so they can reduce even further the amount of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in our water and the environment.

Clean Water Action, in cooperation with Clean Water Fund, have reviewed publically available information presented by the companies and individuals highlighted in the Profiles in Prevention. We have provided this information to the companies and individuals for review.  Being highlighted in Profiles in Prevention does not indicate any endorsement of the company or any of its products. Clean Water Action is not responsible for any misinformation that may be presented in the original source documents. For any questions, please email cwa(at)cleanwater(.)org.

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