Clever, high-powered marketing is a big part of how the landscape industry entices consumers to buy products. The buzzwords in these marketing campaigns fuel our motivation to buy, buy, buy; but do we really know what we are buying; do we even know if those products are right for our very personal use?

Let’s start with appealing descriptive words like “organic” and/or “natural.” These seemingly simple words get plastered across product packaging and are supposed to appeal to our sense of health consciousness and/or our environmental sophistication. Do you know the difference? Is natural better than organic or vice versa?

What about more “high-minded” words like conservation or preservation or sustainability? What sensibilities are being groomed in us with the use of these terms? What are the marketers trying to get us to do or to buy?

The truth is that consumers have become interested in sustainability! It has a great “feel” to it, but few of us know what it really means. We do want things to last and to be healthy as they endure over time. This desire is deeply connected to the desire to make sensible investments in goods and services that will be good for us and for the environment in years to come. But is that ALL that sustainability means?

My fear is that marketing campaigns that make wild promises without really connecting those promises to the facts essentially misinform and confuse the consumer. Each of these words should come with a solid definition for us to reference as a way to understand the marketing claims, but I am not sure we are all speaking the same language.

So we have come up with a list of definitions that satisfy my understanding of what we “think” these words should mean. CAUTION: our definitions may have NOTHING to do with what mainstream marketing channels mean when they use these terms in packaging products or offering services. Still, they may help you think about what you want in your landscape.

  • Conservation: using resources in ways that are not wasteful and that take into account the time needed to replenish those resources naturally or by human inputs.
  • Preservation: saving resources from consumption by protecting them and keeping them out of the consumer pipeline.
  • Sustainability: the development and application of solutions that have built-in mechanisms which promote the maintenance and/or endurance of the resource over time either with measured human inputs or none at all.
  • Organic: said of production methods that result in outcomes that align with the naturally occurring biology and chemistry of the earth. In other words, absolutely no presence of man- made chemical constituents in the production or preservation of the item in question.
  • Natural: said of production methods that allow nature to act entirely on its own course of development.
  • Local: said of anything that is produced “locally” – regardless of whether or not the product is organically, naturally, or conventionally produced.
  • Conventional: said of any landscape or agricultural product or service that apply inorganic, synthetic and/or commoditized methods of production.
  • Green: a very nice color that is characteristically associated with a healthy environment.

At SmithScapes we are dedicated to bringing wholesome services and products to every project, no matter the size. We want your investment to be sustainable – to last and to be resilient over time when cared for properly. Our aim is to foster health and vitality in the environment while ensuring that you and your family are safe to roll in the green grass whenever the spirit moves you!