Attacks on managed landscapes gain traction

September 8, 2015 -  By

Missy Henriksen, VP of 
public affairs, National Association of Landscape Professionals

Historically, our industry has come under attack on various issues, including our equipment’s noise or carbon output; the inputs we use, which are EPA regulated and approved; our water use; and the use of turf, itself.

The West’s drought exposed the industry to even more attacks. Water for landscapes is cited as the single biggest use of household water in California. Particularly, turfgrass is being vilified. Water districts are offering rebates for turf removal, which is seen as a quick and easy fix.

Media coverage and reporters’ rhetoric on this issue has heightened outside of California. East Coast articles urge people to remove their “water-guzzling lawns.” A new sense of “lawn-shaming” in the media ignores the environmental benefits of turfgrass, including oxygen creation, noise reduction, cooling effects, and carbon and run-off sequestration.

Albuquerque, N.M., is a cautionary tale. It recognizes the heat island effect created in its own city because it doesn’t have enough trees and turf. Officials are trying to change city codes to incentivize tree planting. Other locations need to be aware of run-off problems, heat islands and fire hazards brought on by removing landscaping.

Everyone in the industry can make a difference. Pay attention to negative media stories and respond with letters to the editor. Promote the benefits of lawns and managed landscapes. Advocate for a balanced approach to landscaping instead of an all-or-nothing approach that vilifies it.


Henriksen is VP of 
public affairs, National Association of Landscape Professionals.

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