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Fall Fertilizing Know How

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

An unkempt garden, with its bounty of weeds and haphazard look, is no longer considered a neighborhood blight. In some parts of the world, and perhaps in a neighborhood near you, so-called natural lawns are not only a style, but the law, too.

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According to the Newhouse News Service, in Canada there are now 71 municipalities that have banned the use of lawn pesticides -- an umbrella term for herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

Scotts Tries Organic Fertilizer

Frustrated at such a gaping hole in business, in June, fertilizer giant Scotts introduced EcoSense, a line of organic lawn and gardening products, including weed-control sprays, insect dusts and a lawn fertilizer.

While there are no plans to sell the EcoSense line in the United States, the U.S. division plans to renew its efforts to develop a line of organic lawn and gardening products, spokesman Jim King said to the Newhouse Service.

Organic Fertilizer Advocates Making Progress

Scotts' much anticipated step into the organic fertilizer business comes as numerous U.S. environmental groups are stepping up their campaigns to ban or restrict the use of lawn pesticides.

Americans use pesticides lavishly -- an estimated 90 million pounds each year on lawns and gardens, not including products used by lawn-care and pest-control professionals, according to the Audubon Society.

Marketing Leads To Heavy Fertilizer Usage

The high tendency to use the products comes from intense marketing by the big players in the lawn-care industry, Scotts being one of the biggest.

"A lot of money has gone into promotion and they've been effective," said Diana Post of the Rachel Carson Council, named for the author of the 1962 blockbuster ecology book "Silent Spring."

Pesticides are poisons that don't stay on the lawn. When it rains, the chemicals run off the land into streams and groundwater. And once in nature, research shows pesticide residues may remain for up to a year.

Research Shows Fertilizer Danger

A flurry of new research demonstrates pesticides cause direct harm to human health. Scientific evidence links pesticide exposure with a vast array of medical problems, including asthma, childhood leukemia, birth defects, brain cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, behavioral and learning disorders, and delayed motor development.

And it is on this body of evidence that the Canadian municipalities have taken their decision to ban pesticide products and thereby coax Scotts into the organic fertilizer market. Maybe a similar turn will take place in the United States.


About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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