We only have one planet and it’s important that we all do our part by making smart choices to help protect it. At Yellowstone Landscape, we have been doing our part to offer eco-friendly landscaping and find new ways that we can continue to be good stewards of the environment.
We enjoy partnering with commercial property managers, HOA boards, and other real estate professionals who also care about these environmentally conscientious initiatives.
However, when speaking with prospective clients, we often find that there are quite a few misconceptions about what environmentally friendly landscaping even means. There are also some misconceptions about the results that are possible with some of these initiatives. Most common among these, for example, that you can eliminate all chemicals from your lawn care program, yet still expect the same results you get with a traditional treatment program. We’ll cover this misconception as well as a few others that we commonly hear in this article.
We absolutely will continue to encourage all our clients and prospective clients to make wise and green landscaping choices for their properties, but we also want you to have all of the information at hand.
Misconception Number One: Living Walls are Part of Green Landscaping
Living walls, made up of vertical plant material, are often thought of as an element of eco-friendly landscaping. There’s no question that living walls can have a lot of great benefits. They can filter noise and provide sound insulation. They can also add a really unique addition to an interior or exterior arrangement.
But the real truth is that they’re primarily an aesthetic addition, not an environmental one. The environmental benefit of a living wall is often touted as helping to “clean the air.” And even though a living wall is obviously made up of plants, which do help to clean our air, the fact is, there aren’t enough plants in any living wall to make a truly meaningful difference in the air quality around them.
In a study published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, researchers found you’d need between 10 and 1000 plants per square meter to gain any real air quality benefits from plants.
Misconception Number Two: Choosing an All-Organic Lawn Care Program is Always a Wise Choice
Switching to an all-organic lawn care program is another subject that we get a lot of questions about. The trouble is, there are a lot of misconceptions around organic lawn care and what it really means.
For one, the word “organic” gets thrown around a lot and it’s not always clear exactly what this means as different companies might define it in different ways. Whereas “organic” has a clear definition within the food industry, the same is not true for lawn care.
Most likely, you probably think of organic lawn care as a program that uses no chemicals. There are certainly some companies that offer this. But most companies that offer an “organic program” are using a hybrid option where they are still using some chemicals to treat the landscape materials.
The main problem with an organic lawn care program with little or no chemicals is that it doesn’t work very well. And because it doesn’t work very well, you generally end up needing more manpower and more treatments—essentially cancelling out the intent of your green landscaping goals.
Although many people believe that organic is the only way to be safe and responsible, the truth is that traditional lawn care programs can also be both of those things. It’s a matter of ensuring that safe and high-quality products are utilized—and they’re utilized properly.
When those things happen, there’s actually quite a bit of research that shows a thick and healthy lawn can have great environmental benefits. For instance, a healthy lawn can control soil erosion and reduce runoff. Healthy grass can also help filter out pollutants, such as those in acid rain, and recharge groundwater reserves. A thick and healthy lawn will also begin to naturally defend itself against weeds by choking them out. That means that over time, fewer chemical controls will be needed.
So, in the long run, a traditional lawn care program will end up being a better and more sustainable landscaping choice. Plus, it will deliver the aesthetic results you really want from your landscape and lawn care provider.
Misconception Number Three: All-Electric Equipment is an Effective Switch
Similar to questions about organic alternatives, we also see more interest from clients in the switch to electric equipment as a way to practice more environmentally friendly landscaping.
Electric equipment certainly does have some positive attributes and its technology has come a long way in the past decade. There’s no denying that electric equipment does not have emissions and it does greatly reduce noise pollution, compared to some traditionally powered equipment.
But the problem with the current generation of electrically powered equipment, is that its use does come with some trade-offs that often negate the environmental benefits.
The fact is, the technology behind electric equipment just isn’t where it needs to be for commercial applications yet. It’s simply not on-par with commercial-grade, gas-powered equipment. And that means that the same maintenance tasks could take twice as long to get the work done when using all electric equipment.
At Yellowstone Landscape, we understand that the reduced noise and environmental benefits are important to some clients and worth the fact that it’s not that efficient and will end up making their service more expensive. However, for most communities and commercial properties, they decide that they’d rather wait until the technology is improved, and have us use the most effective and efficient tools to do our work.
Of course, as a company that is committed to staying on top of the trends and new developments in our industry, you can be sure this is something that is always on our radar. We’re watching closely and as the landscape industry continues to make more changes to be eco-friendly, and we expect the technology will continue to improve.
Misconception Number Four: Round Up Should be Eliminated
While not necessarily a point that comes up in terms of environmentally friendly landscaping, but rather as a concern over safety, the current misconceptions around this topic is something that we felt important to include here.
With the current lawsuits and television advertising campaigns surrounding glyphosate (the chemical in Round-Up), it's not surprising that this is an issue that we’ve received a number of questions and concerns about. What we often find is that people know that there was a lawsuit but they don’t know much beyond that.
The truth is, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that when used in accordance with its current label, glyphosate is not a carcinogen. Bayer, the manufacturer of Round-Up has also shared that there are more than 800 studies that have demonstrated glyphosate’s safety.
At Yellowstone Landscape, we always tell our clients that it comes down to training and using chemicals properly. We put a tremendous amount of time and effort into training our spray applicators, so that we are confident our technicians are applying products safely. When you’re hiring licensed professionals to apply a professional grade product, it’s frankly a lot safer than when an untrained person (such as a homeowner) is applying a consumer product on their own lawn. They may apply the wrong amount or apply it incorrectly, and rarely pay attention to safety protocols listed on the product’s bottle. This is far more cause for concern, than a state licensed and trained professional, carrying out the same task as a part of a landscape maintenance and lawn care program.
Hire a Conscientious Commercial Landscaping Provider
Although some of these options for a “greener” landscape may not be as eco-friendly as you thought, there certainly are ways that your landscape professional can limit their impact on the environment. In fact, any effort will only be as effective as the provider who’s initiating it. That’s why it’s so important to choose a conscientious landscaper—one who cares about what they’re doing.
That means they’re not haphazardly applying control products across your entire landscape. Instead, they’re only targeting the areas that really need them. Being selective about product applications does take more time than applying in a blanket manner, but it’s a more responsible, safer, and overall better choice.
You also want a company that isn’t just making decisions to be trendy or to go along with what’s popular right now. You want a Landscape Professional who is making choices that are best for your property and its specific needs, based on knowledge and fact.
You also want a Landscape Professional who is going to deliver the best results. As we mentioned above, too many people don’t realize that thick and healthy turf is one of the most effective ways to prevent runoff, which is one of the most important things we can do to protect our waterways.
This is a big reason why choosing a diligent provider who is cautious about where they’re putting the product down is one of the most important “green initiatives” you can do for your property.
In the end, you have options. But finding a company that is capable of initiating green landscaping ideas where it will help your property most will ultimately pay off more than choosing a company that is willing to go along with something that popular culture has deemed as “green”.
Are you ready to feel confident in making a wise choice among commercial landscape providers? Request a consultation today. We’ll meet to learn more about your property and its challenges, then create a comprehensive plan to take care of all of the details for you.