Organic Turfs Don’t Cost More

Grassroots recently released a Turf Comparison Report analyzing the relative costs of maintaining a typical high school football field using a conventional (chemical) program and a natural (organic) program over a five-year period. The report, prepared for members of the New York State legislature, concludes that the annual cost of maintaining a field using natural products and techniques can be as much as 25% lower than the cost of conventional programs using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

The emerging science that links exposure to turf pesticides with human health problems, including potential interference with normal brain development in children, has increased the demand for non-chemical turf management solutions for schools, and has spurred lawmakers in Albany to consider legislation to ban the use of chemical pesticides on school grounds. One obstacle commonly cited by chemical management proponents is the purported higher cost of a natural turf program.

“We’ve all known the dangers of pesticides for a long time, but until now, there hasn’t been a clear choice for schools facing economic challenges,” says Assemblyman Steve Englebright, co-sponsor of the legislation. “Now, thanks to cutting-edge technology and good old-fashioned biology, we can accomplish both goals at the same time. This is great news for schools across the state.”

The report includes cost factors for fertilization, aeration, over-seeding and irrigation for both programs. The conventional program includes additional costs for purchasing and applying typical herbicides and insecticides, while the natural program includes costs for compost topdressing and natural soil amendments. Costs for the natural program are slightly higher in the first two years of the comparative report, then drop significantly in years three and beyond.

Natural Turf Pro, produced by Grassroots Environmental Education, is a 2-DVD, four-hour professional training program for turf managers and landscapers. The program covers all aspects of natural lawn care, from soil testing to compost tea to new lawn construction. We encourage you to ensure that your town and school leaders are using education resources such as Natural Turf Pro to ensure that proper care is taken on lawns in your town.

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LEED for Homes Point by Point – Sustainable Sites

Normally today would be Abby’s Blog but we promised our point information daily for 7 days. Today we overview:

Sustainable Sites :: 14.5 points achieved out of 22 points available::

This was another area where there were a lot of points available and very achievable as long as you applied the thought and planning and site stewardship to your plan. We hired John Carter, a local licensed landscape architect who not only brought his talent but his expertise and guidance to our landscaping plan and overall site design. John’s plan took everything into account from protecting the site during construction to redeveloping the lot when we were done. The piece of property we purchased had sat neglected for nearly 30 years when we took ownership. The few plants on the lot were choked with invasive vines and overgrowth, and slowly dying of disease. The turf was nothing more than crabgrass, riddled with scrub and burdened by undernourished, compacted soil.

John’s landscape design plan was created to both beautify the property and accent the house while rehabilitating the lot back to a healthy, thriving condition. Taking into account the guidance of LEED-H, our plan mandated that our turf area was seeded with a blended grass mixture of native, drought-tolerant, disease resistant seed with a deep root system to ensure a hearty lawn that required minimum irrigation and no chemicals. Our goal included reducing our irrigation demand by at least 60% from our baseline water usage, we achieved 59%.

Our efforts included reducing local heat island affects which means that are hard surfaces (which were minimized to a 120 sq/ft permeable entry walk) were a light-colored, high-albedo natural stone that had a Mixed color of light gray, pale beige, white stone pavers and a Solar reflectance range of .35 – .45 based on variations in shade and color; the thermal emittance was .9 for a Solar Reflective Index range of 38-52 (we had to be higher than 29).

Our surface water management plan called for our lot to be 100% permeable. We accomplished this through extensive landscaping, stepping stone walkways and a really beautiful soft beige pea stone driveway.

We took numerous considerations for nontoxic pest control including sealing external cracks and joints, requiring no wood-to-concrete connections, and having a solid surface concrete foundation.

Our one acre lot afforded us zero points for compact development, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster