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Feb. 27, 2007

Organic lawn care only natural for this family

By Radish staff
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Todd Mizener
Dudley and Rachel Fowler know their organic lawn care products won’t harm their children — from left, Meg, Gwen and Claire.
The tantalizing smells of garlic and lemon filled the air as Dudley Fowler lifted the lid from a jar of yellow liquid. “Smells like salad dressing, doesn’t it?” his wife, Rachel, asked. “That’s mosquito repellent.”

The labels on jars lining the counter at Nature’s Friend Organic Lawn Care read like a vegetarian smorgasbord. People probably wouldn’t want to sample them, but they could — and it wouldn’t send them to a poison-control center. (They probably would want to shy away from the one used for mole control; it contains Castor oil.)

The Fowlers run their organic lawn care business out of Aledo in western Illinois’ Mercer County. They grew up on nearby farms, where they became familiar with soil types, crop rotations and nutritional needs. A year after they married, Mr. Fowler began researching organic applications. “We wanted to get our hands dirty and thought we could put our skills toward lawn care,” he says. “People don’t realize the similarities between plants, animals and humans. They all need to be taken care of nutritionally.”

The Fowlers’ children are a big reason the couple decided to go totally organic instead of a combination of chemical and organic; the products they choose are selected with safety, effectiveness and affordability in mind.

Originally offering only full-service organic lawn treatments, today they’re willing to consult one-on-one with clients about organic products. “I can’t think of one thing I couldn’t replace with an effective organic product,” says Mr. Fowler. “It’s all about creating an environment that is no longer favorable to the pest, whether the pest is a weed, insect or animal.”

The Fowlers say it sometimes takes longer to see results with organic products, but the results are more permanent. “It takes patience,” Mr. Fowler says. “We have to start from the ground up.”

For a list of organic lawn care providers in the region, see Resources.

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