Taking the Guesswork Out of Organic Gardening 

Understanding organic, natural and earth-friendly and why it matters

It’s not easy being green. Or maybe it’s just that we’re a little confused by the terms and claims and what everything means. We’re here to clear the air and give you all the facts when you choose your yard and organic garden products.


The simple definition when it comes to gardening or lawn care is that organic products don’t contain chemicals (i.e. synthetic fertilizers or pesticides). Organic gardening products must be chemical free for three years before they can be labeled organic.

OMRI_LogoWhen something is certified organic, it is strictly regulated by the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute), a non-profit organization whose OMRI Listed® products are allowed for organic use and production by the USDA.


Organic certification is expensive. So many small businesses that produce organic gardening products will label their products natural. This means they don’t contain chemicals—just like certified organic products—but they are unregulated and do not carry official organic certification.

Natural yard and garden products produced by local farmers and sold in independent garden centers are carefully researched and chosen for their organic benefits and customer-friendly prices. But you can always talk with an associate for added peace of mind.


(Environmentally Friendly, Eco-friendly, etc.)

While organic has strict guidelines and natural applies the same principles (without official certification), earth-friendly, eco-friendly and environmentally friendly are mostly marketing terms. On their own, they could mean everything from partially to completely organic (think ‘reduced fat’).

That’s not to say they’re meaningless. Check the label to find out more. You’ll often see these claims made in conjunction with organic or natural, as in ‘a natural, earth-friendly alternative to traditional fertilizer.’

And when in doubt, ask someone in the garden center. They understand the benefits and value of each product and can help you make an informed decision.