Home Depot’s Leaf Bags and their Eco-Terrible “Tips”

Home Depot’s Leaf Bags and their Eco-Terrible “Tips”

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I’m seeing lots of leaf bags in my neighborhood, like this collection from just one neighbor’s yard.  Though I was happy to see they’re made of paper (which is required by my town), a closer look revealed that these bags come with a message about lawn care – a message that’s really, really bad for nearby bodies of water, especially the Chesapeake Bay.

The really, really bad part being, of course: “The healthiest lawns are fed 4 to 5 times a year.” Contrary to what any authoritative, environmentally conscious source recommends, including the  University of Maryland, which follows the now-standard best practice of recommending lawn fertilization ONLY in the fall (in order to prevent run-off of excess nutrients and also over-stimulation of top growth which just leads to extra mowing).

What makes this even more galling are the little credibility-builders elsewhere on the bag.  “Eco-options” my ass!

I followed the tip on the bag and visited Vigoro.com for more “tips” and learned that it’s apparently Home Depot’s in-house brand, so the responsibility for this horrible advice is clearly theirs.  (Not to mention that HD also chose to plaster it all over their bags.)   The website does indeed recommend that their super-charged chemical lawn fertilizer be applied “any time during the growing season.”  And signage in HD’s garden department backs it up with posters like these:

Yes, even SUMMER is a fine and dandy time to apply high-test fertilizer to your lawn.  A practice that probably no authoritative, noncommercial source has ever recommended.

On Home Depot’s gardening blog, I discovered that their Lawn Care 101 is far better: “Fertilizing once in the spring and once again in the fall should be sufficient.”  It even warns against overfertilization, though only because it can harm the lawn.  No mention of it harming waterways but hey, it’s an improvement over the store’s much more prominent advice.

Just as Bad as Scotts

Readers may have noticed multiple rants on this blog against Scotts for telling people to fertilize their lawns far too often and with highly polluting products but wow, Home Depot is definitely in the same league.  Is there anything we can do to tell them to at least stop lying to the public about what healthy, “eco-options” are?

Maybe their partner in all things outdoors – Martha Stewart herself – could get their ear on this important subject.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on December 7, 2012 at 9:25 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet.

14 Comments
    • Rick Orr
    • 26th April 2016

    Currently they may be encouraging 1x per year fertilizing but research does not show that fertilization of lawns adds to the nitrogen load of water bodies. In fact turf protects waterways far more then they harm. All of which is “contrary to what any authoritative, environmentally conscious source ..” because environmentally conscious sources aren’t interested in facts just promoting an agenda.

    • Vincent Vizachero
    • 18th June 2016

    Rick, your facts are wrong and your bias is showing.

    • greg draiss
    • 10th September 2016

    Right on Rick!!!! No mention of the fact that slow release N does not leach into water tables, no mention of the fact lawns are the best control for erosion. No mention of the fact of the oxygen machines lawns are.

    • Sandy in TX
    • 21st September 2016

    . . . plain ol’ grass clippings being some of the best (and slowest) “slow-release” nitrogen around . . .

    • admin
    • 22nd October 2016

    Do you believe in Santa too?

    • Susan Tomlinson
    • 5th November 2016

    I never fertilize my lawn, and in fact, it seems to do just fine. I do use an old fashioned push-reel mower, which leaves clippings on the lawn…Also, it is native buffalo/blue grams grass, so maybe that helps,too, since they don’t get artificially fertilized in nature…

    • Grammy Police
    • 7th November 2016

    Not to mention that fact that HD didn’t bother to proofread their own bags.

    • Dan Long
    • 9th November 2016

    “Do you think the neighbors would mind if picked up their neatly bagged leaves and composted them?”
    Go get ’em! We do this all the time in the suburban neighborhoods nearby. Just got to watch out for the occasional funky additions and remember there’s no telling what’s been sprayed. We never use others’ bags to enrich the veggie garden.

    • steve day
    • 14th November 2016

    Instead of buying fertilizer, feed your lawn with freshly shredded dollar bills.
    And mulch in the fall with the same “product”.

    • Deirdre
    • 14th November 2016

    I prefer shredded leaves in the fall 😉

    • Frank Hyman
    • 15th November 2016

    Very entertaining comments

    • gardenbug
    • 16th November 2016

    I like it Steve!

    • John
    • 16th November 2016

    I have never fertilized my lawn in the four years I’ve lived at my house, yet the lawn is still alive. Strange. According to “official” sources like Scott’s and Home Depot, shouldn’t my lawn have withered and died by now without chemical additives?

    • Stuart
    • 17th November 2016

    Over here in England – we use these http://www.worm.co.uk/products/love-em-and-leave-em if it’s of any interest. Just leave them in a hedge bottom as the jute degrades just a little longer than the leaves.

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