A survey of low risk lawn care product availability.
Summary: Recommended Stores
and Useful Products
This survey was completed in spring of 2000. This is a follow-up
to previous surveys conducted in 1996 and 1998, by the Pesticide
Alternatives Project, a coalition of community, environmental,
conservation, and breast health groups -- coordinated by the Neighborhood
Network -- dedicated to reducing the human health risks from exposure
to toxins by encouraging a wider selection of alternatives to pesticides
and making the public aware of where to purchase them.
of Products on the Survey
Network is again conducting our survey of Long Island lawn
and garden stores, to provide Long Islanders with information
on the best places to find products for safer, organic lawn
and garden care. Would you like to contribute to
It only takes
about 20 minutes to complete each survey form. If you would
like to help by surveying your favorite source for organic
lawn care and gardeing supplies, or other stores in your
area, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
to the suburban lawn is a strong tradition here on Long Island.
It represents the American dream of each homeowner's small piece
of the planet; open green space that many city-dwellers long for.
Unfortunately, the chemical industry plays on that desire with an
unrelenting barrage of advertisements which insist that ever homeowner
has a responsibility to purchase and use chemical pesticides in
order to meet the standard of an emerald green carpet of flawless
Long Island's lawn care supply stores promote the use of and sell
thousands of pounds of chemical pesticides annually. (The total
quantities are unknown, because the information is not tracked.)
Most of these products are highly toxic; some are known or suspected
carcinogens and/or neurotoxins. The objective of the Pesticide
Alternatives Project is to counteract those enormous advertising
budgets and get the word out to the public that there are effective
alternatives to chemical pesticides. Additionally, it is our goal
to increase the availability of non-chemical lawn care products
while educating the public about where these products can be found.
When people make statements like: "I don't want to use chemical
pesticides around my house because of the environmental concerns
and because of the health hazards. But what alternatives are there,
and where can I find them?" this project's objective is to
provide concrete answers to these questions.
The Pesticide Alternatives Project's long term goal is to reduce
toxic pesticide exposures and environmental contamination from the
use of such chemicals by educating the public about alternative
pest control methods, their proper use, and the locations where
they are available. Safer pest control methods exist and are gaining
increased acceptance around the Country.
The survey was completed in response to growing concerns about the
environmental and health risks of chemical pesticide use, and the
increasing number of requests from members and the public for information
on non-toxic pest control.
term "organic" is currently in the process of being
defined for food products by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
though it has not been officially applied to horticulture or lawn
and tree care. It is clear that "organic" is meant to
exclude the use of synthetic chemicals, both in common usage and
also in terms of this report. Organic lawn care practices re-create,
as closely as possible, the natural processes that occur in a
healthy ecosystem; nourishing the soil and plants, while preserving
populations of beneficial microorganisms, predatory insects, and
spiders which control potential pest infestations. This management
approach replaces the search for a chemical "magic bullet"
to attempt to eradicate a pest.
an organic lawn care program, the presence of pests in large enough
numbers to cause damage or a nuisance is recognized as a symptom
of an underlying problem or imbalance in the ecosystem which must
be corrected. The techniques and materials used present very low
risks or no risks at all to human health and the environment.
They include changes in growing habits (proper watering, mowing,
and fertilization; and the selection of grass seed and ornamental
plants that are disease and drought resistant and appropriate
for this part of the country); use of mechanical pest controls
(weeding by hand, scraping egg sacks from trees); physical pest
controls (barriers and traps); biological controls (natural predators,
parasites and pathogens); and, to combat severe pest infestations,
use of treatments that control pest populations by methods other
than poisoning (such as diatomaceous earth, which desiccates pests,
or horticultural oil, which suffocates insects).
changing to organic lawn care practices often requires the application
of products which are not used in chemically dependent lawn and
garden care. All of these organic products are widely available
through mail order catalogs. However, these catalogs may prove
inconvenient when bulky products are sought.
of 119 different stores were surveyed; 128 surveys were completed
because some stores were surveyed twice for quality control purposes.
Stores were assigned scores according to the number of products
offered for sale as a percentage of the total of 33 listed on the
survey. If a store stocked 33 products that they offered for sale
to their customers (such as Hicks, in Westbury), their score would
be a 100%; if they offered 30 products (such as Abby's Parkside,
in Wantagh) their score would be 91%, and so on. The overall average
number of products carried by all stores surveyed was only 12.2,
or 37%. Although this finding is disappointing, it represents a
marginal improvement over the average total number of products found
in stores in 1998, which was 8.3.
Hicks Nursery in Westbury was the only store surveyed which carried
all 33 products. Of the three surveys conducted since 1996, this
is the first store to score a 100%. One store, Marder's in Bridgehampton,
carried only alternative, organic products, selling no synthetic
chemical pesticides. This is also a first for Long Island.
to be listed as a "Recommended Store" a store must
offer 16 or more organic lawn products, or score approximately 50%
of the total list of 33 products surveyed. In total, 36 of the stores
surveyed (30%) scored high enough to be recommended.
(To find and contact a store near you see the
list of Recommended Stores arranged by
region, with phone numbers.)
Jericho Trnpk., Westbury
W. Main St., Huntington
Merrick Rd., Wantagh
North Sea Rd., Southampton
Northern Blvd., East Norwich
Nursery & Hardware
Atlantic Ave., Freeport
Sunrise Hwy., East Islip
Atlantic Ave., Oceanside
Glen Cove Rd., Sea Cliff
Hollow Rd., Bridgehampton
E. Main Street, Huntington
25A, Port Jefferson Station
S. Bayles St., Port Washington
Hill Nurseries/Garden Ctr.
E. Main St., Huntington
South Street, Oyster Bay
Sunrise Highway, Bay Shore
Lake Ave., Nesconsett
Harbor Garden Center
Spring St., Sag Harbor
W. John St., Hicksville
Old Country Rd., Riverhead
Highway, East Hampton
Pulaski Rd., Greenlawn
Hollow Rd., Bridgehampton
Deer Park Ave., Dix Hills
West Rogues Path, Huntington
Osborne Ave., Riverhead
Franklin Ave., Franklin Square
Northern Blvd., Roslyn
Pond Native Plants
South Embassy St., Montauk
Jericho Trnpk., East Northport
Deer Park Ave., Kings Park
Montauk Highway, West Hampton
Montauk Highway, Remsenberg
Nurs & Gardn
Front, East Meadow
OF PRODUCTS ON THE SURVEY
Compost - Adds organic matter and beneficial micro-organisms to
the soil, feeding plants and restoring a healthy soil environment.
Compost is absolutely critical to establishing an organic program.
Compost tea / liquid compost - Has many of the benefits of compost
and the convenience that it can be sprayed.
Organic fertilizer - Feed lawns slowly and enrich the soil. Synthetic
fertilizers decrease biological activity in soil.
Gypsum - Improves calcium deficient lawns and may fight grubs.
Rock dust minerals - Provide important mineral micro-nutrients
to turf grass and other plants.
Organica lawn products [Lawn Booster, Kelp Booster, Dethatcher,
Soil Conditioner] - Organica packages lawn care products in an
easy-to-use 4 step system.
Physical / Mechanical Controls
slug barriers - Flexible copper strips, which slugs will not cross,
that can be placed around plant beds.
oil slug barrier [such as Concern Slug Barrier] - Applied around
gardens or potted plants to protect plants.
- Keeps bird pests off plants.
barriers - Applied around tree trunks to prevent gypsy moth caterpillars
and other crawling pests.
& Wasp traps -
A multitude of pests can be lured and trapped. Traps are used
to monitor and in some cases limit pest populations.
nematodes - Microscopic unsegmented worms, that are harmless to
plants but prey on pest insects.
Bt for mosquitoes
[such as Mosquito Dunks] - Bacteria that attack the digestive
systems of certain types of pest insects, but are harmless to
mammals and beneficial insects.
worms - Called the gardener's best ally and "nature's plow,"
earthworms aerate and soften soil. They help to break down thatch.
Their waste, or castings provide nutrients that would be otherwise
unavailable to plants.
spore - A bacteria which is virulent to Japanese beetle grubs
and and several other grubs, but is harmless to other organisms.
It may take a season or two before you see a noticeable impact.
These "beneficial insects" prey on pests such as
aphids, scales, mealybugs, white flies, & mites.
Pest Control Treatments
insect killer (Limonene) - An extract of citrus peels which is
effective against a number of insect pests, with very low toxicity
gluten - A corn protein applied to lawns in early spring to inhibit
weed germination. It also provides nitrogen.
earth - Microscopic fossilized shells of algae with sharp edges
that pierce the insect bodies causing them to dehydrate. Apply
to lawns; paths used by pets; dog runs to control fleas and ticks;
and used around flower beds to discourage slugs and snails.
blood - Provides nitrogen for plants and also repels deer.
oil insect repellent [such as Garlic Barrier] - Repels a wide
variety of pests from your lawn and garden, including mosquitoes,
fleas, and ticks. (Approved by the EPA in 1999)
soaps (potassium salts) - Kills weeds and fungus by dehydration.
pepper repellent - Repels insects from vegetables, shrubs and
soap (potassium salts) - Solutions of fatty acids and potassium
salts that disrupt cell membranes of sucking insects and soft
& vinegar herbicide [such as Nature's Glory] - An effective
weed killer using lemon and vinegar as the active ingredients
is now on the market.
oil - An extract of the tropical neem tree, which kills many pest
insects, and has very low toxicity to mammals.
urines - Repels deer, rabbits, and other mammal pests.
fungicide - An elemental substance that disrupts the metabolic
processes of fungi; sulfur can also control mites.
horticultural oil/dormant oil [such as canola oil] - Suffocates
pests instead of poisoning them.
Aids / Activators
compost innoculant [compost activator] - microbes which break
down organic matter and accelerate the process of making backyard
The Pesticide Alternative Project is funded by a grant from the
Long Island Community Foundation and is administered by
the Neighborhood Network Research Center.
For a copy of the full report, or for printed lists of recommended
stores and products call the Long Island Neighborhood Network