Dueling sides on lawn care launch efforts

NEW PRAGUE, MN: A PR battle will soon sprout over US lawns and how best to care for them.

NEW PRAGUE, MN: A PR battle will soon sprout over US lawns and how best to care for them.

Project EverGreen, a trade group for pesticide and lawn-care companies, plans to spend this spring touting the benefits of green space.

But a Washington environmental group, Beyond Pesticides, plans a counter campaign discussing the dangers of pesticides in lawn care.

"We believe the message the industry is delivering to the public is wrong and inappropriate," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. "We believe this industry engages in false advertising."

The two groups have already issued dueling advertisements about lawn care. A Project EverGreen ad calls groups like Beyond Pesticides "extremist."

For its spring PR effort, Project EverGreen will work with three firms - Swanson Russell Associates in Nebraska, Epley & Associates in North Carolina, and Focal Point Communications in Cincinnati, said Dan Gardner, executive director of the association.

The three have been working on a pro-bono basis since Project EverGreen started 18 months ago, though they'll be compensated for the spring effort. Gardner didn't disclose a budget.

PR efforts will include articles written for small papers on topics like water usage for lawn care and proper use of pesticides and lawn-care equipment.

The group will also develop promotions with big-box retailers and hold special events in the South and Midwest to focus on lawn care, Gardner said.

Feldman's group will stress that lawns can be cared for without pesticides. "We're not against lawns," he said.

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