I’m seeing lots of leaf bags in my neighborhood, like this collection from just one neighbor’s yard. Though I was happy to see they’re made of paper (which is required by my town), a closer look revealed that these bags come with a message about lawn care – a message that’s really, really bad for nearby bodies of water, especially the Chesapeake Bay.
The really, really bad part being, of course: “The healthiest lawns are fed 4 to 5 times a year.” Contrary to what any authoritative, environmentally conscious source recommends, including the University of Maryland, which follows the now-standard best practice of recommending lawn fertilization ONLY in the fall (in order to prevent run-off of excess nutrients and also over-stimulation of top growth which just leads to extra mowing).
What makes this even more galling are the little credibility-builders elsewhere on the bag. “Eco-options” my ass!
I followed the tip on the bag and visited Vigoro.com for more “tips” and learned that it’s apparently Home Depot’s in-house brand, so the responsibility for this horrible advice is clearly theirs. (Not to mention that HD also chose to plaster it all over their bags.) The website does indeed recommend that their super-charged chemical lawn fertilizer be applied “any time during the growing season.” And signage in HD’s garden department backs it up with posters like these:
Yes, even SUMMER is a fine and dandy time to apply high-test fertilizer to your lawn. A practice that probably no authoritative, noncommercial source has ever recommended.
On Home Depot’s gardening blog, I discovered that their Lawn Care 101 is far better: “Fertilizing once in the spring and once again in the fall should be sufficient.” It even warns against overfertilization, though only because it can harm the lawn. No mention of it harming waterways but hey, it’s an improvement over the store’s much more prominent advice.
Just as Bad as Scotts
Readers may have noticed multiple rants on this blog against Scotts for telling people to fertilize their lawns far too often and with highly polluting products but wow, Home Depot is definitely in the same league. Is there anything we can do to tell them to at least stop lying to the public about what healthy, “eco-options” are?
Maybe their partner in all things outdoors – Martha Stewart herself – could get their ear on this important subject.