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.
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.
On the other hand, Laura from Garden Answers is a celebrated because of her gardening. She is still a spokesperson for Proven Winners and Espoma. She is best for inexperienced gardeners and her advice is good and simple if not nuanced.
I agree! A real gardening communicator.
A rant that spoke to me. Honestly, anyone pushing turfgrass lawns should be ignored, even if the products do turn out to be relatively benign. The lawns themselves are not.
I was just lamenting about these so-called influencers whose total experience spans 15 min and now dare to speak as if they understand, know AND can predict nature/gardening. HST, I’m weary of repeating my tried and true strategies & remedies so maybe we should take advantage of those who know little but have the vigor to spread what minuscule amt they know. So what if they make a little $ in the process.
I agree with you, Susan…but I don’t walk the conventional garden path anyway. I make my own organic plant fertilizer. Further, my “grass”–what there is of it–isn’t given fertilizer and if it dies, I don’t care.
I agree, I do not like these celeberties gardeners.
I am frankly tired of people who say they use organic pesticides or organic fertilizers instead of “chemicals.” If a complete-soil analysis hasn’t been done the gardener doesn’t even know what if anything needs to be added . Gardeners are not farmers who intensely use their soil to produce food which of course is removed from the site. Gardeners can easily chop up or compost garden waste so the soil is seldom depleted.
Don’t get me going on chemical pesticides versus “natural” pesticides. Pyrethrins made from a species of chrysanthemum are insect killers all right but toxic to people.
Celebrities…keep out of it!
Which is worst? The celebrity promotion or promotion of unnecessary stuff and nonsense?
How many understand your words? Amongst virgin gardeners? We’re the choir.
Relatively benign? 11-0-2? Enough nitrogen, aka bomb making ingredient, to kill soil organisms, earth worms and pollute groundwater.
Interesting who Scotts chose to shill.
“Its ingredients are: molasses, feather meal, wheat flour meal, blood meal, sulfate of potash (potassium), zeolite and NPK (11-0-2)”
What toxins in ingredients? All ripe with production issues. Weed killer, anti-biotics, etc…
Tara Turf, never needs fertilizer, irrigation, less mowing, local globally, unique to each zone/continent. In use since before Christ’s era. Increases crop yields by 80%. Increases soil health, increases pollinators.
New to Tara Turf? High Mowing Seeds, uses these historic, and best, ‘lawn’ ingredients. Their seed catalogue and emails pure education and joy. http://www.HighMowingSeeds.com. (I receive ZERO from HMS!)
Good EYE Susan !
Garden & Be Well, Tara
I’m so glad you posted this Susan, because it made me think. After puzzling over the many points you raised, I came to the conclusion that ultimately I’m glad these two women endorsed garden products.
First of all, however, we have to remember that celebrities sell and back products all the time. How many stars come out with lines of perfume or vitamins, for example? Yes, they do it for the income, but also because it keeps their name – their brand – in the public eye. It’s the American way.
Many of these product endorsements don’t last, because people can “smell” when they are not authentic. People know when someone is passionate about a product or pursuit, and they respond to that enthusiasm and authenticity. Like that song by Guy Clark said, “It’s got to come from the heart if you want it to work.”
But ultimately I like the fact that these women are endorsing garden stuff because it’s evidence of horticulture coming back into popular culture, and this is something I’ve been interested in for the past 30 years. So let them jump on the plant-wagon and help us spread the word.
In the meantime, we who are truly passionate about plants and gardens will support those plants, products and pursuits that we can promote wholeheartedly.
At least KC isn’t promoting fertilizers associated with when she promoted colonoscopies…
Well, this is mildly upsetting. I had respect for Drew until this. Katie – meh.