Pesticide registry leads to a lot of friendly calls from Steve

Erin Schanen


By now we’ve all learned that answering calls from phone numbers we don’t recognize is usually a bad idea. I had no idea that the status of my car’s warranty was such a pressing issue that I would receive multiple calls about it every day. But I still answer most calls from numbers I don’t know, and it’s a good thing or I wouldn’t have met Steve.

Steve, who is a real person, not a recording or some sort of artificial intelligence voice, called me more frequently this summer than even some of my good friends. He calls out of duty, not friendship, but nonetheless I like to think that Steve and I have developed a nice repoire.

He works for what is probably the biggest lawn care company around. I won’t identify it, but it used go by a name with such a negative connotation that it was rebranded to sound more environmentally friendly. I don’t use its services, but several of my neighbors do.

And that’s why Steve and I chat regularly.

 I first signed up for the Wisconsin Landscape Pesticide Registry several years ago after the next door neighbor’s lawn service (not the one Steve works for) sprayed something on their gravel driveway on a windy day. The next day, all of the plants in my yard closest to the neighbor showed the browning, curling leaves indicative of herbicide damage. I cringed when I recalled that our windows had all been open that day as well.

Once you sign up for the registry, an exercise that needs to be repeated annually, you will be notified at least 12 hours before commercial pesticide applications are done on neighboring properties whose addresses you specify when you register.

These notifications typically come in the form of a phone call to relay the name of the chemical that will be applied, when and at which neighboring address.

But when Steve, who apparently has the unenviable job of making these calls, started calling up to twice a week with notifications, I changed the random number that showed up on the phone screen to “Steve” and the conversation naturally got a little chattier. It was nothing more than the addition of a “How’s your day going?” or a bit of conversation about what the chemical is used for.

When Steve tells me his company will be spraying nearby I pay special attention to the weather, and if there is a chance of drifting chemicals, I make sure the windows are closed and the dogs are inside. I’ve never noticed plant damage since the first incident, although I wouldn’t hesitate to cover a particularly sensitive plant on a windy day.

Steve won’t be happy that I’m writing about the registry because there’s a good chance it will result in more calls on his list. If you hear from him, tell him I say hi.

Enrollment in the Landscape Pesticide Registry is open Nov. 1 to Feb. 1. For more information or to register, go to



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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