Thursday, April 23, 2009
Spring has sprung and the excitement of the new season is a bloom. As buds peer their curious heads from below the cool earth, homeowners coast to coast prepare for the joys of warmer days and the beauty of spring time gardens. But for millions across this great land, no spring is quite the same without the allure of a perfect lawn; weed free and super green. Perfect lawns come with a price to your pocket, your health and your planet. Accompanied by heavy doses of toxic chemicals, lawn pesticides are amongst the most hazardous substances in and around your home and family. It's easy to enjoy the lush splendor of your grass as long as you have your "head in the ground" about the implications. Here are just a few you might want to seed your mind with;
Of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, here is the breakdown: 14 are probable or possible carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, and 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants. The most popular and widely used lawn chemical 2,4-D, which kills broad leaf weeds like dandelions, is an endocrine disruptor with predicted human health risks ranging from changes in estrogen and testosterone levels, thyroid problems, prostate cancer and reproductive abnormalities. 2,4-D has also been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Other lawn chemicals like glyphosate (RoundUp) have also been linked to serious adverse chronic effects in humans. Imidacloprid, another pesticide growing in popularity, has been implicated in bee toxicity and the recent Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) phenomena.
Here are some alternatives on how to get that great lawn, without the risks:
• Water Deeply and Infrequently: This encourages deep root growth. One inch per week is ideal. You can easily measure that amount by placing a cup in your yard while watering. When your sprinkler fills it one inch deep, your watering for the week is done. Water early in the morning to minimize disease problems.
• Mow High: Keep your lawn mowed at three inches or higher. This will increase the root strength and naturally shade out weeds. Don’t mow your lawn unless it needs it. This creates healthy grass that can withstand drought and stay green longer.
• Use Organic Fertilizer: Commercial fertilizers easily wash away, polluting nearby lakes and streams. Many contain toxic weed killers. Choose an organic fertilizer to capture and deliver nutrients in the lawn throughout the growing season. Keep grass clippings on the lawn as they are an excellent natural fertilizer.
• Weed Naturally: Proper lawn care maintenance naturally eliminates most weeds. Annual reseeding gives grass an advantage over weeds. Avoid using pesticides, as they can harm other beneficial living things such as soil microorganisms, bees, birds and fish. The right tool makes quick work of weeding. After pulling weeds, use grass seed and soil to fill in the hole. Your lawn will be strong and healthy as a result.
The easiest and safest solution is to avoid chemical use and exposure by using alternative, non-toxic management methods. Additionally we should learn to be more tolerant of weeds that are solely a nuisance or are aesthetically displeasing.
Have a beautiful, healthy and safe spring season.