Hot Button Issues: Gas-Powered Equipment, Weed Control and Water Management - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

We recently updated our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use this website, you acknowledge that our revised Privacy Policy applies.

Hot Button Issues: Gas-Powered Equipment, Weed Control and Water Management

The landscape industry frequently comes under fire for issues including the use of gas-powered equipment, synthetic weed control and water management.

“If we look at anything at the macro level, there is usually some grain of truth and validity,” says Roscoe Klausing, founder and owner of Klausing Group. “It is when we get into the details and we break something apart that we start to remember, ‘Oh yeah, it’s actually a little bit more complex.’”

An example of this is if a critic argues that lawns shouldn’t exist.

“If we get into details, it becomes pretty clear that our grass is the single most appropriate plant for places where we have to walk, places that we want to play, and no plant better withstands moderate foot traffic,” Klausing says.

Klausing, along with Devin Guinn, principal of AquaGreen Global, LLC, Brandon Sheppard, a Weed Man franchise owner, and Andrew Bray, senior vice president of government relations and membership for NALP, will discuss these topics on a panel at ELEVATE. This session, “Hot Button Issues: Gas-Powered Equipment, Weed Control and Water Management,” will be held on Monday, Sept. 11, at 11 a.m. It is part of the Customer Experience track and is worth 1 CEU. 

During this panel, you’ll learn what critics are saying about these tools, what your company can do to address their concerns, and what NALP is doing to advocate on your behalf.

Klausing says the key to discussing these topics is to step away from the attitude of combativeness and address the practicality of a concept. He also encourages coaching your staff so they know the appropriate response if someone approaches them about a controversial topic.

“I think there are some reasonable responses that can be given to most hot-button issues that at least defuse the situation when you’re having a conversation with a client,” Klausing says. “If you don’t, then that void will be filled with potentially conflicting messages coming from the same organization.”

Pesticide Usage

When it comes to pesticide usage, Klausing says they coach their staff to educate clients that there is a federal agency that regulates the usage of pesticides and there is a rigorous process in place to approve products.

He says they have trained and licensed employees doing the application and they always follow the label.

“My position is that we trust and rely on the professionals at the EPA,” Klausing says. “We trust that there is an ongoing review process of the products that we’re using. Because we’re using it according to the label, with the PPE and safety guidance in place, that we’re behaving as responsibly and as professionally as we can.”

The session will discuss preemption and how to respond to local municipalities trying to preempt the EPA.

Gas-Powered Equipment

Klausing acknowledges that moving away from gas-powered equipment is the future and they know it’s coming. However, he says it’s not something that can occur at the flip of a switch.

“Let’s put in place a transition plan,” Klausing says. “Let’s incentivize. Let’s address the cost issues. Let’s address the infrastructure issues. Let’s address the fact that the technology doesn’t even allow somebody who works 10 hours a day to use the same machine for 10 hours because the batteries don’t last that long.”

He says the public can assume that the technology is there when it comes to the gas-to-electric transition, but you can educate your team to talk about the additional costs, the challenges of charging 250 batteries at night and batteries only lasting for so long to open their eyes to the difference between personal usage and professional usage of electric equipment.

Water Management

Even in areas where water shortages are not an issue, Klausing encourages using smart irrigation controllers and low-water usage plants. He says the push to eliminate lawns entirely isn’t practical and can cause people to be unsatisfied with their yards as they’ll no longer have a space to do the activities they could before.

“Each of us has a responsibility to be an advocate for the benefits of landscapes,” Klausing says. “With everything that we do, there are always some drawbacks, some negative impact. There will always be critics. The best way that we can advance our messaging, the best way that we can inform people is to be clear. Not just about what the critics are saying but about the good that landscapes provide. I think this topic will really, ultimately allow people to have a more informed positive conversation about the role of landscapes in our communities.”

Want to know how to respond to critics about these hot-button issues? Register for ELEVATE and we’ll see you in Dallas, Texas!

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.