Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

Water Positive Initiative's "Gro-ing" Benefits On Our Communities

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Nicholas LaPointe

Nicholas LaPointe


Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management


Chris Laszlo

Chris Laszlo

Global Goals

6. Clean Water and Sanitation 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 15. Life on Land

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With $3 billion dollars in annual sales, Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG) is the market leader in consumer lawn and garden care products in North America. SMG controls of more than 50% of the do-it-yourself consumer lawn and garden market. At Scotts Miracle-Gro, they believe it is their responsibility to offer products to the consumers that will allow them to care for their lawns and gardens in a way that will "leave the environment in better shape than they found it." Leadership at SMG understand that consumers and employees expect companies they do business with and work for to be committed to improving society and the environment. Listed below are some of the key initiatives taken by SMG that show that the environment and social responsibility are at the core of their business.

  • Water Positive Landscapes: Net Positive Long Term Water Conservation & Water Quality Initiative Lead By Scotts Miracle-Gro w/ Key National Partnerships
  • Connected Yard & Gro: Open Source Platform Technology For Smart Yards & Gardens Lead By Scotts Miracle-Gro (Consumer Lawn & Garden Internet of Things)
  • Product Innovation, Redesign, & Reformulation: Phosphorus Removal, Seed & Product Reformulation, Targeted Applicator Design, Technology Allowing Expanding Options For Beneficial Use Recycled By-Products, Hydroponics, Etc.


Scotts Miracle-Gro recently began a long term corporate initiative called the Water Positive Landscapes initiative. Mike Shelton, Scott's Miracle-Gro's Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility, indicated this new long term corporate initiative is changing the DNA of Scotts Miracle-Gro. Scotts Miracle-Gro undoubtedly recognizes water as a critical natural resource and has taken actions to improve conservation and quality. Mike described Scotts Miracle-Gro Water Positive Landscape vision of the consumer's lawn and garden as a functioning water filtration system, functioning in a similar fashion to a kidney. Pollutants that historically have been picked up from residential and urban impervious surfaces will be filtered out by the lawn and gardens of the future. Slowly returning water to the environment as clean or cleaner than when it came down as rain. In addition to improving the quality of water runoff, their products will also help homeowners maximize efficient use of water. This is being done through the introduction of regionalized drought tolerant/resistant products.

Some of the current products across Scott's Miracle-Gro's portfolio of soils, seeds, plants, and lawn food have created some of the building blocks of the Water Positive Landscapes initiative include the introduction of their Every-Drop water surfactant. This surfactant has been formulated to allow grass seed to flourish with 25% less water by breaking the surface tension of water molecules that allow a slower, more even penetration of a plant’s root zone in soil. Other grass seed and soil products make efficient use of water through the incorporation of coconut coir. Coconut coir is natural fiber by-product that has the ability to expand up to three its size when wet. To date, SMG has reformulated many of their product offerings with coconut coir to save water. Scott's Miracle-Gro has been a leader in phosphorus free and slow release nitrogen fertilizers. Since 2013 SMG's lawn maintenance products have been phosphorus free. Initially, SMG was hesitant to removal of phosphorus from their products as they saw it as a key ingredient to their lawn maintenance products.

Through research, market surveys, and working with stakeholders, they found that their resistance was not founded on existing in-ground levels of the nutrient and modern residential yard practices. SMG found phosphorus was no longer a crucial component of their lawn maintenance products as result of changing consumer practices.

Innovative products on the horizon that have been recently rolled out in support or as complements to their Water Positive Landscapes initiative include Scott's Miracle Gro's Open Platform Connected Yard and the Gro phone app. This platform allows suppliers and manufactures of do it yourself consumer lawn and garden products to link their products together to create the smart lawn and gardens of the future. In the not so distant future, smart houses will be paired with intelligent Water Positive lawns that improve our communities and the environment. Imagine lawns with water and nutrient distribution systems and real time chemical/moisture sensors that allow the homeowner to effectively manage and care for their lawn and gardens which all can be controlled and monitored from an app on your smart phone!

SMG sees do-it-yourself hydroponic gardening as a blue-ocean opportunity in the home gardening market that will align tightly with the Water Positive Landscapes initiative. Closed-loop hydroponic garden systems require less water, have no nutrient run off, require less space, increase yield, and make gardening accessible to many people in urban and high density residential environments.

Water Positive Initiative's "Gro-ing" Benefits On Our Communities


Scotts Miracle-Gro sees the challenges with water conservation and quality as an opportunity for them to continue to set the bar as the leader in the do-it-yourself lawn and garden marketplace. In order to maintain and even expand on their presence in the market they must continue to innovate and be inspired to do good business by doing well for the environment. Like their customers, the employees of SMG interact with the environment every time they use their products and put shovels in the ground. As result, SMG must ensure that their products have a net positive and sustainable impact on the environment.

Through the partnerships developed out of the Water Positive Landscapes initiative with a national network of environmental stakeholders such as the Nature Conservancy and the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Scotts Miracle-Gro is actively engaged with regional stakeholders across the country. This engagement allows SMG to fully understanding the impact of their products on local watersheds and it provides SMG with direct feedback regarding the challenges that each region struggles with. SMG uses this feedback and the knowledge gained from these partnerships as inspiration to innovate and push towards continued improvement of their products.

Overall impact

Scotts Miracle -Gro's Water Positive Landscapes initiative, while still in its early stages, has the potential to have far reaching impacts in the U.S. SMG's key national partnerships will help the efforts of these national organizations focus and inform home gardeners on how they can become "Water Positive" through improved education, research, and informed policy making. This two-way feedback will allow SMG to make meaningful impacts through targeted research and development and tailored product offerings. While the consumer lawn and garden markets are not the leading contributors of water depletion and quality, they play a contributing role. The actions of SMG will mitigate and potentially reverse negative impacts that homeowners have on their local watersheds. As stated on their website, it is Scotts Miracle-Gro’s goal to provide homeowners with simple and actionable ways to use water more efficiently and responsibly. Not only will SMG's product offerings have net positive implications on the environment, but also the communities where people are using their products. Access to parks, community gardens, and other shared green space is important in the communities we live, work, and play in.

Business benefit

Scotts Miracle-Gro’s Water Positive Landscape initiative’s benefits to society and the environment are unmistakable. The benefits of this initiative also extend to the business. The national partner network of key organization is seen as a key benefit to SMG. The information received from these organizations allows Scotts to continue to innovate and push the envelope when it comes to water preservation and quality. These partnerships also provides Scotts Miracle-Gro with a larger platform and voice to educate consumers on responsible practices. An additional benefit includes Scotts Miracle-Gro’s partnerships with some of the nation’s leading academic institutions to help innovate, expand research, and push boundaries to design the landscape of the future. Some of their partners include Cornell, Texas A&M, and the University of Florida.

The products brought to the market in support of the Water Positive Landscape’s initiative are already producing positive results for the company. The Every Drop water surfactant previously discussed in Innovation section above was a regionally released product. The product’s regional release was successful on both the consumer and business side, as result the product is anticipated to be released nationally. It has been found through various product reformulations and redesigns that the consumer experience does not have to be jeopardized as result of a socially responsible product reformulation and redesign and in many cases it can be improved.

Social and environmental benefit

Many of the societal and environmental impacts of the Water Positive Landscapes initiative have been previously discussed. NASA has estimated that there are over 40 million acres of residential landscapes in the United States. There is an opportunity for Scotts Miracle-Gro and their Water Positive Landscape initiative to greatly impact our nation. Some of the benefits have been captured and expanded in the list below:

  • Protecting & Preservation of Local Watersheds

  • Improved Health of Local Watersheds

  • Improved Education and Policy

  • Greater Stakeholder Involvement

  • “Landscapes As Good For The Environment As They Are Beautiful”

  • Green Infrastructure Reduces Flooding and Improves Water Quality

  • Urban Greenspace Prevents Erosion & Absorbs Rainwater Reducing Stresses on Local Stormwater Infrastructure

  • Hydroponic gardening has the opportunity to bring gardening to urban and dense population areas where gardening was not a viable option before, increasing access to healthy foods and improving communities.

  • Responsible Gardening Practices Improve and Restore Soils


Mike Shelton, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility

Photo of interviewee

Business information

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

Marysville, OH, US
Business Website:
Year Founded: 1868
Number of Employees: 5001 to 10000
Miracle Gro's Water Positive Landscapes inniative is truely "Gro-ing" Miracle Gro's position as the leader in the lawn and garden industry. This initiative is an integrated program that clearly defines Miracle Gro's commitment to water quality and conservation. Through this initiative and other actions/programs highlighted, Miracle Gro is helping define landscapes of the future.