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« When is the best time to scarify your lawn? | Main | The loss of a true turfgrass legend »

Irresponsible Lawn Care in the Media

GrassClippings - Poor Media Coverage of LawnsDavid Hedges-Gower the lawn care expert has the kind of professional credentials which only come from total dedication.  From a career spanning Golf Professional to Course Manager at a prestigous Oxforshire Golf Course to author of his Modern Lawn Care book, he is technically frustrated with the lack of lawn care advice in the media today.

Our Managing Editor, Mike Seaton, tends to agree totally.

Lawns are not worth it; they take up too much time, they’re difficult to look after and they use nasty chemicals and lots of precious water. Up and down the country home owners are realizing that life is a lot better with paving or artificial turf.

Sound familiar? It should do – not a week goes by without some lifestyle article or superficial study saying these things.  Behind it all, however, lies misinformation with the potential for serious consequences and so it needs to be challenged. 

Fact #1 – Up and down the country people are not digging up their lawns and replacing them with paving or artificial grass. Landscape companies might wish they were, but so far it’s nothing but a fleeting fad fuelled by commercial interests.

Fact #2 – If we were to follow this advice and rip out a vital part of our living environment, we’d soon notice some unwelcome changes to our quality of life. Our air would be more polluted; CO2 levels would be rocketing; and GPs would be inundated with patients demanding anti-depressants. We’d also grow hungry as our agricultural biodiversity went out of kilter. And we’d have to start building homes on stilts to avoid the persistent surface flooding.

So, thank goodness the rumours are not true – people still like lawns. Lawns are in the British gardener’s DNA. But those same gardeners do need help because lawn care has been poorly served by the home and garden media for decades. If no one reports the correct information, what else are people to believe?

Home-owners are not begin given the full story.

For example, just recently several national newspapers reported a study undertaken by Alfresia, a respectable business that profits from people spending money on their gardens. And while there’s nothing wrong with a company earning some marketing exposure in this way, it is not methodical research.

However, the newspapers presented it as a given. They did not question or challenge the study; nor did they seek a counter opinion. Articles like these are entertaining but the claims have no credible value.

Yet it is the stuff that we hear, see and read regularly. And it is the stuff that influences peoples’ opinions and shapes their decisions. Our gardeners need advice they can trust. They need the full story – why lawns are important, the good they do for our gardens and, most of all, how easy, cheap and green they are to look after.

I don’t think the reporters are to blame – they have so little to go on. But perhaps the decisions made at the top of the media ladders are more accountable?

Lawns very rarely feature in our TV programmes or in the gardening press. And when they do, the advice offered is either inadequate or incorrect – like using a garden fork to aerate the soil when in fact the solid prongs make the compaction worse; like the advice to water after a few dry days, when in truth an ordinary lawn doesn’t require watering even when turning brown in a hot summer; and like the criticism that lawns devour nasty chemicals – when in fact a healthy lawn doesn’t use any chemicals.

And in the absence of an authoritative voice, this type of misinformation is repeated across national media and filters down to local papers with their gardening columns where it is presented as the definitive truth about lawns.

Remember – our well being and that of the planet is at stake. This really does matter!

Living grass creates a cooling effect in the garden, useful given our rising temperatures. It turns CO2 into oxygen, cleans pollution from the air we breathe, channels rain into the ground to prevent flooding – and it is the perfect surface for all kinds of exercise and play.

Regardless of what the manufacturers claim, nothing man-made can recreate the unique, natural sensory qualities of living grass. And that’s why lawns also help to keep us healthy. Reliable medical studies like MIND’s Ecotherapy work are revealing just how important living greenery is to our physical and mental wellbeing.

So, here’s a challenge to the media and a plea to our gardeners…

I’m in the process of establishing the British Lawn Association – a professional body incorporating education, training, certification and more. This will ensure that no more untruths can be peddled about lawns just to promote the latest trendy lifestyle products or sell more magazines.

And so, to prove that I’m not just a loud mouth, why not put me to the test? Stick me in front of a camera or a microphone and cross-examine me about lawns and lawn care. I guarantee I will be able to convince you that most of what you currently hear about lawns is wrong!

Meanwhile, to any gardener out there who is unsure about their lawn – if you want to do something amazing, simple and economical, don’t get rid of it! Let me help you to learn easy lawn care and to enjoy a healthy, happy lawn. Be a hero to your garden, your neighbourhood and yourself – before it’s too late.

Buy the Book Modern Lawn Care by David Hedges Gower @realawnexpert



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