EDITOR’S NOTE: EACH TUESDAY MY GREEN SIDE BRINGS SIMPLE TIPS FOR GREEN LIVING TO THE CHRISTOPHER GABRIEL PROGRAM. WE ALSO HIGHLIGHT A FAVORITE GREEN SITE EACH WEEK. YOU CAN STREAM THE SEGMENT AT APPROXIMATELY 1220PM (CENTRAL) EVERY TUESDAY AT WDAY.COM OR, IF YOU’RE IN NORTH DAKOTA OR WESTERN MINNESOTA, LISTEN ON YOUR RADIO AT AM970 WDAY.
Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogencity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system.
Of those same 30 lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.
Non-toxic weed control does not begin with finding a safe herbicide to use on your lawn. The quick-fix that chemicals offer does not address the fact that weeds are a symptom of the overall condition of your lawn, and are not just an isolated problem. For example, is your lawn being cut high (2-4 inches) and often? Is there proper drainage and aeration in your lawn? If not, your lawn may not be as healthy as it could be, and the opportunistic weeds are gaining a foothold in your yard. This overall perspective is one of the principles behind an integrated pest management (IPM) program, the concept upon which all non-chemical pest control methods are based. Source: Beyond Pesticides
The National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns has some easy tips you can use to create a healthy lawn.
- Bad mowing practices can cause many lawn problems so make sure your mower blades are sharp and keep your grass height at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing (see Grasscycling below).
- Some weeds are the result of using poor quality grass seed. Make sure you use the proper grass seed for your region.
- And remember many “weeds” have beneficial qualities. For example, clover takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and distributes it to the grass, which helps it grow. Clover roots are also extensive and very drought-resistant, providing resources to soil organisms. It also stays green long after your lawn goes naturally dormant.
Grasscycling is another great way to achieve a healthy lawn. Grasscycling is recycling grass clippings by leaving them on your lawn instead of collecting them for disposal. Grasscycling is a practice that can help produce a healthy lawn while at the same time benefit you, your community and the environment.
To grasscycle properly:
- Cut your grass when it’s dry.
- Cut your grass regularly. A good rule is to cut no more than one-third of the grass height at any one mowing. Cutting off more than one-third at a time can stop roots from growing and require frequent watering during dry summers to keep the grass alive. In addition, the one-third rule produces smaller clippings that disappear quickly by filtering down to the soil surface.
- Cut your grass with a sharp blade. Sharp blades cut the grass cleanly and that helps ensure rapid healing and regrowth. Dull blades tear and bruise the grass. The wounded grass becomes weakened and is less able to prevent invading weeds and recover from disease.
Grasscycling improves lawn quality when grass clippings are allowed to decay naturally on the lawn.
- They are returning nitrogen and nutrients to your soil.
- They act as a water-saving mulch, since the clippings are 80 to 85 percent water.
- They encourage natural soil aeration by earthworms.
- Mowing time is reduced because there’s no need to bag clippings.
If you have weeds growing where you don’t want them (say, if they are peaking out from your mulch) pour vinegar, lemon juice or boiling water on them. Make sure the liquid only goes where you don’t want vegetation of any kind because it does not discriminate; it kills everything.
Incidentally, boiling water also took care of a ground bee situation we had. I waited until after dark, when the bees were back in their nest, and poured the biggest pot of boiling water I could carry on them and then ran for my life. I repeated the process the next evening . . . just in case. Problem solved without calling an exterminator.
My Green Side’s web pick of the week:
Beyond Pesticides is a wonderful source of information and tips for creating a healthy, pesticide-free lawn. Formerly National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Beyond Pesticides works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.
The site is full of wonderful article, for example: Read Your “Weeds” – A Simple Guide To Creating A Healthy Lawn and Least-toxic Control of Weeds