Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ok, what's so "environmental" about this grass seed?

"Green" or "sustainability" or whatever term you want to give to this new era of resource preservation and ecological regeneration is resulting in some far-fetched environmental claims.

A recent one coming to my attention involves a grass seed marketer — not a name most of you would recognize — that's aggressively marketing the environmental benefits of its grass seed mixtures. The company makes some rather exaggerated (remarkable?) claims for its products.

On its website it says that buyers/users of its grass seed need only mow once a month, seldom or never water (after establishment), that it thrives without chemicals and grows 12-in.-deep roots.

Yes, in theory, the grass seed mixtures it sells (a 5-lb. bag costs about $35) will probably survive and may even result is a sward acceptable to a "naturalist" with minimal care. But, my guess is that most people buying these products and expecting to have attractive, high-quality lawns without watering, fertilizing and by mowing just once a month are going to be sorely disappointed.

What do these "environmental" lawn seed mixtures contain? It turns out they're comprised of different ratios of fine fescues, turf-type tall fescues, Kentucky bluegrasses and perennial ryegrasses.

The fine fescues (hard, creeping red and chewings) predominate in the shade mixtures, with Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescues making up a goodly portion of the sunny mixtures. Combining improved varieties of these different species for different growing conditions (sun and share) are a common practice by grass seed marketers.

The fact that this company’s website bears the seal of approval of SafeLawns.org should be enough of a tipoff that this company is aiming its marketing at the naive consumer. And, judging by the press this company is getting, the naive media. (Hey, I've been a part of the media for 40-plus years, and will regretfully admit to being naive on more than a few occasions.)

I hope this one example isn't indicative of where the landscape industry is going in terms of its commitment to sustainable products and services. — Ron Hall

1 comment:

siryoz0 said...

Weigh the advantages of sod, grass seed, and groundcover. Sod provides an instant lawn but at a premium price compared to grass seed.

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