The use of pesticides in lawn-care management is up to each individual. The Illinois Professional Lawn Care Associationwants to make sure that if pesticides are needed, they are used according to the label, a legal binding contract once purchased.
We can only speak for the educated professional applicator and the professionally concentrated pesticides or fertilizers they apply. The labels for each product can be complex but if certified, they are easy to follow.
We cannot speak for the homeowners who purchase a bag of fertilizer that covers 12,000 square feet from a big-box store and apply it all on a 1,200-square foot lawn with an improperly calibrated spreader. We also cannot speak for homeowners who use a non-selective herbicide when they should use a selective herbicide. In our industry, if an application is made in that manner, a fine can be issued and a pesticide license can be revoked.
Once a proper soil test has been completed, proper best management practices can be evaluated for the best course of action. If the turf is properly maintained, few if any weeds should be present to manage. All professional pesticides available to our members are no longer the environmental threat as projected. They require less personal protective equipment and exit the environment rather quickly. We have fertilizers, for instance that are “OneAP” which is exactly what it states, one application per season that gives the same result as a yearly five-application program.
In some communities that no longer use herbicides, they have compacted soil. There’s no aeration and no air and water exchange to stimulate growth. Those conditions are less favorable for grass and weeds take over. It’s like having a disease in your lawn. If you can keep your grass at three inches tall and core aerate the lawn, it reduces compaction, stimulates root growth and helps get air and water into the soil.
We encourage utilizing the blending of organic fertilizers and adding beneficial bacteria that create an unfavorable environment for fungus within the current turf professional program.
Mark Opal is president of the Illinois Professional Lawn Care Association. Bill Luenberger and Norm Kleber are past presidents.