As with any subject greater understanding comes with an understanding of terminology. In the lawn care arena four words or phrases are important to understand.
1) Conventional. Lawn care connected with this term usually includes the use of synthetic fertilizer. These fertilizers may be fast or slow release. The later may be labeled WIN or water insoluble nitrogen. Bacterial or heat action releases these nutrients. The slow release is usually accomplished via a coating either sulfur or plastic polymer. This lawn care practice may include the use of registered pesticides for management of insects, undesirable vegetation or fungus.
2) Organic. When a lawn is managed organically the source of nutrition are organic fertilizers. These materials are of lower analysis than conventional fertilizers, therefore requiring more material to provide similar amounts of nutrition as conventional fertilizer. A result is higher cost of an application. If the selected organic fertilizer is complete (containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) and no phosphorus or potassium is required, for example, their application is wasteful both environmentally and economically. Only nonselective herbicides are available for an organic lawn. There are few effective insecticides for use on an organic lawn. Fortunately few diseases trouble home lawns, necessitating a fungicide.
3) Reduced risk lawn care. Synthetic fertilizer is part of a program in this category. Those pesticides labeled in NYS and listed by the EPA as reduced risk products could be used in a reduced risk program.
4) Lawn care without pesticides. This lawn care is similar to an organic practice as neither uses synthetic pesticides. This regime integrates good culture practices rather than pesticides for pest management. Convectional fertilizers and bio controls for pest management are considered acceptable with this program.
Future blogs will expand on each of these lawn care programs.