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Benefits and Pest Management Associated with Landscapes

To fully reap the benefits that lawns and landscapes can provide our urban and suburban communities, these green spaces must be well-maintained. Not only is pest management integral to this maintenance, but how pests are managed impacts the appearance, quality, and environmental conditions of a landscape. While pesticides can provide many benefits, they can also pose risks to human health and the environment. The key benefits associated with lawn care and landscaping include:

Benefits of the Landscaping Initiative
Environmental Benefits
  • Reduces chemical usage
  • Minimizes environmental impacts on land, water, habitat, and wildlife by reducing forest fires, soil erosion, runoff and, pollution
Human Health & Social Benefits
  • Reduces worker hazard
  • Leads to safer sites, decreases hazard exposure, and reduces fire danger
Economic Benefits
  • Reduces service disruptions
  • Lowers vegetation management costs
  • Increases worker productivity
  • Decreases utility customers' costs

While the potential risks include:

High Pesticide Concentrations in Urban Areas
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) water quality monitoring data indicate higher concentrations of pesticides in urban and suburban areas when compared to agricultural areas.

Pesticide Exposure Incidents
Improper pesticide use can result in unintentional, direct exposures to pesticides. According to EPA’s Pesticide Incidence Data Reporting System, more than 31,000 pesticide exposure incidents related to the use of pesticides on lawns were reported from 1995 to 2002. The major categories of the reported incidents were humans and non-target plants. These incidents are not confirmed or investigated.

Ten Guiding Principles for Responsible Lawn Care and Landscaping
  1. Learn about your site or yard
  2. Choose the right plant for the right spot
  3. Build healthy soil and use fertilizers responsibly
  4. Reduce waste and recycle nutrients
  5. Attract and protect wildlife
  6. Manage yard pests responsibly
  7. Use water wisely
  8. Mow and prune responsibly
  9. Prevent landscape pollution
  10. Reduce storm water runoff

Limited Consumer Knowledge
Inadequate consumer knowledge can result in poor lawn care practices – such as plant selection, irrigation, mowing, use (or lack of use) of fertilizer/soil amendments, aeration, and pest management – and improper pesticide use. Consumers often do not adhere to the instructions on pesticide labels or fail to read the labels altogether, which can lead to:

  • Applying more than the recommended application of a pesticide
  • Treating symptoms of pest problems without suitable information about the causes
  • Improper storage and disposal of pesticides

Public Health Pests
Landscapes can be habitats for public health pests such as ticks, mosquitoes, rats, and mice.

What Can YOU Do?
The Landscaping Initiative and its partners have produced guidance documents that help individuals apply responsible lawn care and landscaping practices, including:

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