Drew Barrymore Sells Lawn Care   

Suddenly my social media feeds are showing me videos of Drew Barrymore ecstatically hugging bags of grass seed and telling us to Lawn Differently with “Choose Instead,” 

Bag-hugging aside, I’m totally open to celebrities being hired to sell products if they’re good ones and the message to consumers is worthy.  And here, the message seems great:

Our fertilizers improve your lawn over time with nutrients from natural ingredients, so your little slice of nature stays that way.
Our slow-release, natural ingredients are formulated to help reduce run-off in waterways, which can contribute to algae blooms.
Pollinator-friendly ingredients (no pesticides!) means your buzzing backyard ecosystem will thrive too.

As Barrymore says in an industry publication, “What really spoke to me was the commitment to using natural ingredients, things that won’t harm the earth, let alone my family or pets.” All good, right?

How’s the Advice?

The ingredients do indeed look “all natural,” but I don’t know enough to judge their effectiveness, or anything else about them.  

The site does ask customers to first insert their zip code so that (supposedly) regionally-appropriate advice and products will be displayed.  Having inserted my Zone 7 zip code, the “plan” that resulted includes “Happy Lawn Fertilizer Summer,” which would be appropriate for warm-season grasses but is real no-no for cool-season grasses. Here in the “transition zone” for turfgrass, homeowners grow both kinds of grass, yet the “Choose Instead” website doesn’t ask.

How’s the Product?

Readers, if you know enough to judge these ingredients, please leave us a comment. The aforementioned “Happy Summer Fertilizer” is claimed to “green, thicken and strengthen grass against the stressful heat of summer. This never-burn (when used as directed) blend of wheat flour, feather meal and molasses has just the right amount of nitrogen to help your lawn bounce back in the fall.” Its ingredients are: molasses, feather meal, wheat flour meal, blood meal, sulfate of potash (potassium), zeolite and NPK (11-0-2). (Scroll down on this page to see ingredients for all their products.)

How’s their Expert?

As a science-loving garden blogger, I was eager to find out which established authority the company was relying on but the website is – surprise! – silent on that question. So like any intrepid blogger I then emailed the address provided for press inquiries and – surprise! – it bounced right back with no response. 

So now I just hate the whole endeavor and suggest you “choose instead” to reject “Instead” as green-washing quackery! 

UPDATE: A tipster sent me a New York Times story that reveals the company Instead is “funded by the venture capital arm of Scotts, the lawn-care behemoth.” I guess Drew hasn’t read my roundup of reasons Scotts Miracle-Gro is SO hated. 

Katie Couric “Loves her Garden”

Next, an example that could be seen as a sign of good times for the gardening world – the estimated 10 million new gardeners in the U.S. thanks to covid.  Yay? But if it means a rich celebrity like Katie Couric pretending to be knowledgeable about gardening in order to take money from actual gardening experts, I hate it, too.

With the ad above, Katie Couric Media lists the 10 gardening products they want us to buy through her site, giving HER the commission on those sales. Why trust Katie when choosing gardening products?  As explained in “Get Your Garden Ready for Spring” here’s why: “If you follow Katie on Instagram, you know how much she loves her garden!” Notice it doesn’t even say she loves TO garden.  Just HAS one, and apparently loves it.

Sole photos of Katie Couric in garden settings found on her Instagram account

Still, I went to Instagram looking for Katie’s gardening photos and found just these three shots of her in a garden, but no mention of whose, or especially whether Katie had ANY hand at all in its creation or maintenance.

Katie Couric selling gardening products on her site should piss off every actual gardening expert or serious communicator (avoiding the icky term “influencer”) because those online sales of gardening products are a precious source of (very modest) income for them, as little as 3 percent through Amazon’s sales commission program for publishers.

End of rant.