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Choosing a landscape company with environmentally sound practices

The Issue

For many years, we have worked with local agricultural producers to develop sound management practices to alleviate water quality and other environmental problems. Many of the legal requirements faced by the growers are a result of the concern of homeowners and other non-farming groups. Ironically, in many situations, the environmental impact of a large housing development can be equal to or greater than the impact of the farming operation. However, many residents do not understand the collective impact of their home and garden pest control and fertilization activities on the environment. In addition, most of these homeowner activities are generally unregulated.

What Has ANR Done?

This project was a joint effort of the Agricultural Water Quality Program, San Diego County UC Cooperative Extension and the Western Plant Health Association. The group secured funding from the California Department of Food and Agriculture Fertilizer Research and Education Program to develop and disseminate information that will help homeowners, homeowners' associations and other landscape owners and managers select landscape installation and maintenance companies that adhere to the environmental standards they desire. Program materials developed include a 12-page information booklet titled "Hiring a Landscape Company - What You Should Know Before You Start" and a partner document that includes an interview outline, worksheet and suggested questions. These documents were extensively reviewed by the California Landscape Contractors Association. It became clear to them that this was a tool that landscape professionals could use to market their environmentally sound services. Because many individuals in the landscape industry are Spanish speaking, we also translated these documents to Spanish.

The Payoff

Various agencies take part in distribution of landscape materials

Working through local water quality coalitions, we have distributed almost 20,000 of these documents to various cities, planning departments, county land-use offices and to various developers and homeowners' associations. Presentations have been made to homeowners' associations, the Building Industry Association and city and county officials in San Diego and surrounding counties. The materials and presentations have also been incorporated into the "Healthy Garden, Healthy Home" program, a multi-agency effort led by UCCE in San Diego County aimed at reducing pollutants flowing into coastal ocean waters.


Supporting Unit: San Diego County

Valerie J. Mellano, Ph.D., vjmellano@sbcglobal.net, (760)752-4724