Friday, March 13, 2009

Like Ice Cream Trucks, TruGreen Arrives in Spring

Every day--seriously--I see TruGreen ChemLawn trucks perusing the neighborhood like bored teens. If they are actually doing anything, like making applications or such, is doubtful. I bet good money that they are simply mobile billboards. Sweet gig. Today one truck has been parked a block away over the lunch hour. Driver just sitting in there. Convenient time to park, isn't it? Think he's making out with someone?

I abhor TruGreen Chemlawn. I just do. Perhaps I shouldn't.

"A healthy landscape contributes to a healthy environment in many ways. In fact, healthy trees, plants, and shrubs actually:

--Purify and conserve water resources by reducing runoff and recharging the water table
--Maintain air quality by absorbing air pollutants like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and smog
--Trap dust particles that can reduce visibility and sunlight
Generate oxygen through photosynthesis

In addition, healthy lawns:
--Slow the spread of fire by providing a buffer zone around buildings
--Build topsoil through decay of grass clippings and other roots and shoots
--Reduce erosion of topsoil into streams

Keeping your landscape well groomed also promotes a healthy environment for you because it moderates temperatures and noise, reduces glare, and controls allergens.

Protecting and enhancing your grass, trees, and shrubs helps your pocketbook because it can increase your property value, and healthy, mature trees shading your home can cut your energy costs significantly."

What is "healthy?" And grass moderates noise? WHAT? Wouldn't more shrubs and trees do this, with the "side benefit" of providing lots of shelter and food to multitudes of wildlife?

Let's look at their tree and shrub care. How many treatments does a person need by this company? 7. 4 more if you want trunk injections (my god!) and trimming. I could cut that down to one.

How toxic are their products?

"TruGreen does not manufacture the products we use in lawn care, but the products we purchase generally contain the same active ingredients as found in products sold at retail garden stores and hardware stores.

Furthermore, the toxic potential of any substance is a function of dose or concentration. The spray applications most commonly made by TruGreen are dilute aqueous solutions of fertilizer and pesticides consisting of approximately 92 percent water, 7.5 percent fertilizer and 0.5 percent or less of pesticide. However, approximately 50 percent of our applications consist of dry granular formulations of lawn care products similar to those available at retail stores.

Twelve combinations of materials most regularly used by TruGreen in lawn, tree and shrub care were tested for oral acute toxicity in rodents using concentrations similar to those that are in the spray application. The term LD50 represents the dose that is lethal to 50% of the rodent test group. Eleven of the applications had an LD50 value greater than 20,000 mg/kg and one had an LD50 of 18,100 mg/kg.

What's more, a scale used for rating the toxicity of chemicals from Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, Gosselin, Smith and Hodge: Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, 1984 indicated the test results for liquid mixtures diluted for use in TruGreen ChemLawn programs can be rated as Practically Non-Toxic."

Did you get that one line with the implication that their treatments are safe because they are similar to ones available at retail stores? Dude, if Home Depot sold plutonium it doesn't mean I want it on my yard.

I'm curtailing this post because I need to go eat some chocolate. Anyone want to weigh in on this company?


themanicgardener said...

Sure, I'll weigh in: ugh, ugh, and ugh.

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

We fired them last year. Big promises, small results. Little work, big money.

Barry said...

I wonder if it's just in smaller communities.... we have three that circle like vultures waiting for those blissful new home owners who think they need to keep up with the 'Joneses'! The stats are truly frightening.... as an aside, I worked at HD and they only fed us plutonium to glow a colour eerily reminiscent of the aprons! Thanks for dropping by my blog and the reading suggestion. Work has started up at the nursery so free time will once again become a rarity for awhile!

James Golden said...

How to destroy the American lawn and the ignorance that perpetuates it and the industry it supports? I despair. Perhaps the Obama administration's EPA will regain some of its former ability at least to enforce regulatory changes.

Les said...

Even a so called healthy lawn is a biological dead zone being totally devoid of diversity, especially after a treatment. Many of my customers have had trouble with their shrubs and trees after weed killer have been applied to the lawn, either from a service or self administered. There is a big mentality out there that feels there is an easy ready-to-use solution for any problem. Fortunately more people are beginning to look at the big picture.

Sarah O. said...

Uh, such poorly written PR copy. I liked this part: only half of rodents die when they come in contact with the pesticides/fertilizers? So the other half get to wander around in a poisoned daze until a fox, cat, or bird of prey injests their chemical deliciousness?

TruGreen ChemLawn sounds doubleplus ungood to me.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Kate--poetic as usual! :)
Tatyana--That's what I'd think....
Teza--I'd like to think that, if I had to, I could work at HD. But I don't know. I bet they DO feed you plutonium.
James--I have the same hope as you for Obama's EPA, but I don't think any of that can or will begin to be addressed until a possible second term. If he makes it. Lots of important things to our very survial (environmental) are going to have to be put off until we right our economic ship. Why can't you do both at once? I don't know....
Les--I'd think a "healthy" lawn is a sign of that dead zone. There IS an easy solution--let it be.
Sarah--Yes, wasn't that a great line? And if half die, what about the families playing in that grass? Seriously, why did they have that on their site? Sometimes transparency, or feigned transparency, is worse.

Amanda B. said...

I agree with you. In a world that is working towards becoming green, something with the word "chem" in their name can't be a natural/good thing. And the whole "trugreen chemlawn" sounds like an oxymoron. How can it be "true green" if it is made with chemicals? Is it worth getting cancer to have a brilliant green lawn produced by chemicals???

Makes no sense to me...

themanicgardener said...

Had to weigh in again after seeing Amanda's comment. My reaction to "chemlawn" and to "trugreen chemlawn" is exactly the same as hers (see the top comment her for my pithy, poetic rendition), but I do think it's important to remember that everything is made out of chemicals, including us and any organic amendments we may choose to use. The difference for me is whether the chemicals involved were manufactured and mixed, or whether they're part of a complex, naturally derived substance like green sand or bone meal.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Mandy--I hate green lawns. I wish I didn't have a lawn. I hope the next owners keep my garden and don't bulldoze it for grass.
Kate--Yer right. What isn't chemicals? Green sand and bonemeal seem like cool things to me, and I think that, yes, are they naturally derived or not IS the key question--and one I assume really is the debate over natural and not. But it isn't. What's up with that?

Anonymous said...

Repulsive. If you can't keep your lawn green with a little water, then you shouldn't have one. These chemicals are toxic to other things than just weeds, duh, guess why we have such poisoned rivers and lakes. When will people wake up and realize the consequences of their actions? Our poor planet.

Garden Wise Guy said...

Ben - looks like you hit the hot button on this one. I like your plutonium analogy. Right there with "if your friend jumped off the bridge..."

I don't think the lawn goes away until people without lawns do an exemplary job of creating something aesthetically desirable to take their place. Unfortunately, many people just replace the turf with a random collection of impulse color and miss an opportunity to change people's ideas of what a beautiful yard should look like.

As any salesman will tell you, you have to show people what's in it for them. Altruism isn't a strong enough motivator for most people.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Karen--Just leave your lawn a bit longer. My neighbors across the street mow twice a week in July and August. #1 what the heck is there to mow twice a week in those hot months, and #2 you're just ensuring your lawn burns horribly, which their's does. Argh.
B--I wish my lawn was some 1' tall, thick, and wavy prairie grass. I have some kind of fescue. I think for Christmas I'll spray it white and red, a candy cane design.

Brad said...

I agree with everything said here. I worked for CHEM lawn for about 5 years. It was hard work for very little money. Your pay scale was based on how many lawns you did per week with commission on anything over your goal which made us do the job a fast as we could to get "the number" which in turned caused poor customer service and application techniques. Luckily I had the same route for my tenure and was comfortable enough to slow down and do the job correctly, take pride in my work and was even regional technician of the year my 3rd year. But alot of guys really just cared about getting a paycheck.
There is alot of turnover, no communication between the different departments. A customer could hear 3 different stories from 3 different people.
There program calls for at the minimum of 4 applications per year but would keep calling the customers and push them for 8. There is absolutely no need for that many which brings us to the chem part of the name. Not harmful? Why were my knees chemical burned every spring? Why did I have rashes? We do not need this stuff on our lawns. If you want a nice lawn,raise your mower up so that your are only taking off the top 1/3 of the grass blade. I have a bermuda grass back lawn-it is recommended to cut short. I find if it is left long it has a better color and is also thicker thus choking out the crabgrass. The taller the grass is on top of the surface, the stronger it is below the surface making it able to handle the summer time heat and drought conditions. You dont have to water your lawn all of the time. Insect control? No thanks! They are put on this planet for a reason. They may eat our precious plants and grasses but there usually is always a predator waiting to eat them. Japanese beetles are tougher to rid of. They are voracious eaters but can be somewhat controlled. It has been said that a few birds will eat them: Purple Grackle, European Starting,
Cardinal, Meadowlark, Catbird, English Sparrow and Robin although I have never witnessed it. Some people buy those bags that they hang in their garden. The problem: they hang it in their garden-these bags seem to attract every beetle in the neighborhood but not all of them will go in the bag. So, if you choose this method-place it in the far corner of your lawn. Another method is Bon-Neem insecticide soap. You do not need chem lawn coming out to spray your shrubs or treat your lawns for grubs, which is doubled the price of your regular lawn application.
Keep your lawns, our streams, lakes and rivers chem-free. Clover is good to have. I like watching the honey bees working in my yard. Daffodils are pretty in the spring.
I am happy to say that I have been away from them for 2 years now and they have not been harassing me to start up lawn care.

Brad said...

A couple of other things. They made us work in the wind a rain also. A little rain is good for the applications-even the liquid ones. They must be watered in or else the product would stay on the grass leafs and stems. But all day rain would just wash it away. If that was the case then I would use the bags of granulars that had the weed control combined. This is not an endorsement. Just another example of them going after the $$$

Anonymous said...

natural products can be poisonous too.research the cheasepeake bay.I hate trugreen too,but you people are treehuggers and need to do more research on chemicals before you sound stupider

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - "stupider?" Really?

I start taking walks on my lunch breaks, when spring arrives here in Georgia. I can FEEL the lawn chemicals invading my lungs. I can TASTE it. It's disgusting. I cannot understand how pesticides that are sprayed into public areas (yes, your lawn, in your subdivision, is a "public area," if I've paid for the sidewalk that abuts it and have to BREATHE what you put on it) can possibly be legal. And -- if you have kids -- why would you want them anywhere near this crap?

Plus -- the smell of this stuff overrides the beautiful scents of honeysuckle and other flowers that comes out, here, in the spring.

Sure, natural products can be "poisonous," too. So I don't use those, either, and don't want anyone shoving them into me.

Anonymous said...

Health Canada, by 2012 may ban all cosmetic lawn care chemicals including weed, insect and chemical fert.

Chemlawn was sued in Canada and lost, then changed their name to Trugreen.

They do indeed spray chemicals known to cause cancer in other countries, however in the USA the EPA does not consider these chemicals to cause cancer.
Here in the USA we will continue to be subjected to cancer causing chemicals being sprayed in our neighborhoods every spring, summer and fall.

these chemicals pollute our air, water and are carried in homes by wind and by sticking to shoes.

In the home these chemicals do not break down, due to the lack of UV light resulting in pollution of indoor air.

Unknown said...

I really dislike the chemical, industrial turf treatment companies. I was called by their company reps years ago and informed of all the weeds they identified during a "free consultation" of our lawn. I am a botanist, taxonomist, so as they called out the common names I returned with the latin. I mentioned that I was aware and totally excited about having these weeds as they provided a haze of green when I watched my lawn go dormant each summer. I explained they also provided valuable nectar sources. The chem rep had never come across someone so excited about weeds! The freedom lawn I called it, god bless MERICA, I love my freedom lawn!

Unknown said...

I have trugreen they do an awesome job on my lawn.the thing is you have to to some work yourself they are not on your lawn everyday like you are.they come out and apply a great product to kill weeds and feed your have to water and cut it are all expecting a miracle.people need to get a grip they are there to help you don't go to a gym and yell at the person at the desk for being fat do ya ? It only works if you do your part to lets use some common sense here people

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