Environmental concerns drive organic management for lawns, home gardens

While the agricultural sector uses the majority of conventional pesticides, lawn and home garden care accounts for 24 percent of pesticide sales and 6 percent of overall pesticide use in the United States, according to the most recent EPA report on pesticide sales and usage. As the adverse effects of pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides) on environmental and human health are becoming better known, there is growing interest in organic management of lawns and home gardens. A recent survey published in the Journal of Environmental Protection found that the top driver of residential adoption of organic management is concern over the environmental impacts of conventional pesticides. The study aimed to identify characteristics of organic adopters and non-adopters to determine what drives adoption of organic home and garden care. Researchers found that the most dominant characteristics of adopters were pro-environmental attitudes and gardening as a hobby (spending more than 15 hours per month on lawn and garden care). The main factor seemingly to prevent organic adoption was the perception that organic management, and primarily organic herbicides for weed control, are not effective enough and neighbors would be concerned with the aesthetic of their property if they switched to organic lawn and garden care. This study provides a reminder that there are important opportunities to increase organic pest management outside of agriculture. Residential adoption of organic lawn and garden care is an opportunity. Understanding what drives and prevents adoption is important for industry and policymakers interested in reducing environmental and public health impacts from conventional pesticide usage in residential areas.