Are Lawn Care Treatments Safe?
This is a good question and one that many lawn care companies don’t want to talk about. However, it is an obvious concern that the public has and should be addressed. At Green Giant, we believe providing accurate, unbiased information will help you make the decision that is best for you.
So, Are Lawn Care Treatments Safe?
The quick answer is, since pesticides are used in some Lawn Care applications and, by their very nature, pesticides are toxic, they can pose a risk. There is no question that high levels of pesticide exposure are unacceptable and potentially dangerous.
Lawn Care pesticides include herbicides, which are used to control unwanted plant material (weeds), insecticides which control turf-grass damaging insects (grubs, chinch bugs, sod webworms and others) and fungicides that control turf damaging diseases.
What is Green Giant’s approach to pesticides and how do we minimize risk?
To be clear, at Green Giant we do not “like” pesticides – no one does. That is like saying, “I like chlorine” (in a pool) – nobody likes chlorine – what they like is that they can swim without being exposed to waterborne germs. We do realize that, at times, pesticides are needed to achieve desired results and can be used in a very low risk manner.
When used properly, and according to the label instructions, the risks to the customer and general public are very minimal – and below we will explain what we do at Green Giant to minimize risk.
Procedures to minimize risk:
At Green Giant, we only use pesticides when and where they are needed – for example, if your lawn only has two patches of weeds, we will only treat those two areas. We will not ‘blanket’ the lawn with herbicide for no reason. This is often referred to as, “Spot Treating”. The same goes for tree care, if you have 10 trees on your property but only three of them are susceptible to a damaging insect, we will only treat the three trees that need to be protected from the insect – we will not just spray all trees and shrubs “for the heck of it…”
When we use pesticides, we use the least toxic product, and the smallest amount needed to do the job.
All pesticides taken to a customer’s property have already been diluted with water.
How much herbicide is actually used?
A common misconception is that large amounts of pesticides are used during lawn care applications. In reality, you might be surprised how little is used. As stated above, we only use pesticides where needed. This means, most of our customer’s lawns do not get “property line-to- property line” weed control. However, for this example, let’s assume we are treating a new customer’s lawn that has weeds “property line -to- property line” and we will treat the entire lawn.
Let’s assume the customer has a quarter acre lot (which is 10,890 square feet).
After subtracting the non-lawn areas (house, driveway, flower beds…) there are typically about 7,000 sq. ft. of turf grass on the property. Our equipment sprays 14 ounces per 1,000 square feet. This is the herbicide, diluted with water, to make the proper concentration.
So, on this size lawn, 98 ounces of diluted herbicide would be applied (7 x 14 = 98). This is about three quarts used over 7,000 sq. ft. – and about 95% of that is water.
This works out to less than five ounces of the concentrated herbicide – less than half the volume of a soda can – that would be used over a 7,000 sq. ft. lawn. And, keep in mind, since we only treat areas with weeds –most 7,000 sq. ft. lawns will receive even less herbicide.
Now you might be wondering why we use so little herbicide? The answer is, “Because that’s all it takes” and, we strive to use the smallest amount needed to get the job done.
Green Giant ONLY uses pesticides that are categorized as “General-Use” by the EPA. General-Use pesticides are intended, and approved, for use by the general public and can be sold in any hardware store or supermarket.
While homeowners can apply General-Use pesticides without a license, anyone applying pesticides for commercial purposes, must have the following:
- A Pesticide Business License – any company that is licensed to use pesticides in Pennsylvania will have a Business License Number or “BU Number” and it must be displayed on both sides of the service vehicle and be at least 3” tall. For example, Green Giant’s Pennsylvania BU Number is “BU 4302”. If a company does not have a BU Number and is using pesticides on your property, you may want to consider hiring another lawn care company.
- Insurance specifically related to pesticide use with required minimum coverage.
- A Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator License which requires passing at least two tests and also requires ongoing continuing education credits to keep the license up to date. This is all administered by the state.
Are There Organic and Natural Options for Lawn Care?
Yes, there are!
We prefer natural products when they are available and effective. We do this in all of our divisions (lawn care, tree care and pest control). Some of the non-chemical services we provide in our Lawn & Tree Care division are, organic-based fertilizers, lime applications, aeration with over-seeding and humic acid treatments.
The areas of lawn care where there are no effective organic options are selective weed control & insect control. Selective weed control is the type of herbicide that will kill weeds but not your good lawn grass.
Pest Control is where we have the most options for natural and organic products. The main reason for this is, there are a lot of places where pest control materials can be used without getting washed away with rain. We regularly use organic products to treat for mosquitoes, general household pests, bed bugs and fleas.
Steps the customer can take:
- If a pesticide is sprayed in a liquid form, stay out of the treated area until it dries. Depending on weather conditions, we will often recommend that older children and adults stay off the lawn for at least two hours. If you inadvertently walk on grass with a pesticide that is still wet, leave the area and take your shoes off and rinse them off. If you were bare foot, wash your feet with soap & water.
- We recommend keeping young children off the lawn for a minimum of four hours (or even just wait until the next day).
- Mow your lawn at the proper height (3” – 4”). This will give you a healthier lawn which can better crowd out weeds, is more resilient to turf damaging pests and, the shade cast from taller grass makes it more difficult for weed seeds to germinate. These will all reduce the need for herbicide and/or insecticide. Just don’t let your grass to get taller than 6”.
*Please see our Today’s Visit page for additional information after each lawn care application.
If you are interested in Green Giant’s services, we would like to answer any questions you have!
Green Giant Home & Commercial’s Lawn Care services control weeds, build the thickness and density of your lawn and protect it from being damaged by insects and disease, providing you with a great-looking, healthy lawn. We offer fertilization, weed control, liming, insect control, and aeration and overseeding. Visit our Lawn Care page for more information.
Green Giant performs: Proper Diagnosis and Treatment of Tree & Shrub Problems, Insect & Disease Control (including Spotted Lanternfly), and Nutrient Management via Deep Root Fertilization to keep your plants healthy and thriving. Visit our Tree Care page for more information.
Green Giant’s Non-Lawn Weed Control services eliminate unwanted vegetation in a wide variety of locations for both residential and large commercial/municipal properties such as: Weed Control in Planting Beds (yes, no more pulling weeds!), around obstacles to reduce weed eating, along fence lines, stone/gravel driveways & parking lots, swales and roadside/curbside vegetation management. Find more information, visit our Vegetation Management page.
Our full service pest control division provides both Year-Round Service Programs that cover the vast majority of pests that you will encounter and also One-Time Corrective Services for pests such as bees, ants, termites or mice. For more information, visit our Pest Control page.