Table of Contents
Facts About Lawn & Garden Chemicals
Soil is the foundation that nurtures and nourishes everything you grow. Stop using chemical fertilizers, they pollute ground water and harm helpful earthworms. Instead, feed your plants with organicfertilizers, or better still, feed your plants soil compost your garden has made itself. All without toxic chemicals, that’s important for you, your family and for all those living things in the soil.
Chemical pesticides and fertilizers contaminate surface, groundwater threaten the health of children.
Lawn pesticides and fertilizers can contaminate surface and groundwater. This diminishes the quality of our drinking water as well as the quality of aquatic habitats and health of aquatic life forms. Many fish and aquatic insect species are highly sensitive to fertilizers and pesticides. Children are the most vulnerable segment of our population due to their small size and their underdeveloped physiology. Children are also often the most exposed to pesticides due to their behaviour (putting contaminated grass, soil and toys into mouth, breathing close to the ground). Increased vulnerability and exposure put children at an unacceptably high risk from lawn pesticides.
Chemical pesticides and fertilizers reduce the activity of beneficial organisms.
Healthy soil is alive with a variety of beneficial organisms that actually kill pest insects, decrease the spread of disease and help plants gather nutrients and water. For example, earthworms improve air and water circulation, decompose thatch, deposit nutrient-rich castings and help to neutralize soil (plants prefer this pH). Many of these beneficial organisms are highly exposed and highly sensitive to lawn chemicals. Pesticides and fertilizers reduce their activity levels, thereby reducing a lawn’s natural ability to control pests and diseases, gather nutrients and water and maintain overall health.
Chemical fertilizers are a waste of money.
Chemical fertilizers usually contain three macronutrients – phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen. They lack other macro as well as micronutrients and include no organic matter or microbes. In contrast, finished compost from your backyard bin is an organic and natural soil amendment that provides a more complete package of nutrients, organic matter and microbes. Finished compost is a free resource that also constitutes sustainable waste management, extending the lifespan of local dumps and landfills.
Chemicals actually degrade the overall long-term health of your lawn and garden.
Chemical lawn care is the wrong approach. By frequently applying pesticides to your lawn, you may create a chemical-dependent landscape. As pest species become resistant to the chemicals designed to kill them, more concentrated doses and frequent applications are required and a never-ending cycle of increasing pest resistance and pesticide use is established. When this happens, your lawn’s health is spiralling downhill.
Lawn chemicals are unnecessary.
Historically, organic lawn care has been practiced for much longer than chemical lawn care and it can easily be implemented on any lawn. Safe and effective alternatives exist for most chemical pesticides and fertilizers. There is no need to expose our families, communities and local wildlife to chemicals that are known or potential hazards.
Rules of Organic Lawn Care
The guiding principle of organic lawn care is to nourish the soil. In this way, it differs fundamentally from chemical lawn care, which focuses on feeding the grass. Nourish your soil with natural and organic products such as finished compost (from your own backyard compost heap), well-aged manure, grass clippings and/or slow-release organic fertilizers. Grass clippings and compost can be applied in small amounts throughout the growing season but slow-release organic fertilizers are best applied in late summer – early fall. An early spring application is also acceptable. Unlike quick-release chemical fertilizers, these natural and organic products will not burn grass or contaminate ground and surface water.
Recycle your Clippings and Top-dress with Compost
Instead of collecting and putting clippings out for garbage, leave them on your lawn. Grass clippings are the perfect fertilizer for lawns. They are free, convenient, chalk full of nutrients and organic matter and able to boost soil fertility by up to 30 per cent. They also return moisture to your soil and shade it from the drying rays of the sun. Nourish your soil by sprinkling finished compost over your lawn. Finished compost has an earthy odour, spongy texture and rich-brown colour. It contributes a wide range of both macro and micro-nutrients, which are released slowly over a long period of time. It also contributes microorganisms, which help decompose thatch and other organic matter.
Aerate and Over-seed
Aeration relieves compaction and cultivates the soil. It is best done in the spring or fall prior to fertilization. Aeration increases air and water penetration and movement in the soil. You can ensure continual, natural and free aeration by attracting and protecting earthworms in your soil.Your lawn is comprised of millions of individual grass plants. Like any other living thing, these plants eventually die. It is important to over-seed once every year to keep your lawn thick and healthy. A dense lawn will crowd out weeds like dandelions and crabgrass that crop up in bare or thinly-covered patches. Choose grass varieties that suit the light, moisture and soil conditions of your yard. Over-seeding is also a great way to introduce hardy, pest-resistant and low-maintenance grass varieties such as endophytic perennial ryes and fine fescues into your lawn. A lawn with diverse grass types is better able to deal with and recover from stresses such as drouhts, pest outbreaks, diseases and traffic. It is best to over -seed from late-August to late-September, although April is also acceptable.
Mowing is one of the most important aspects of organic lawn care. The simple practice of mowing high contributes enormously to the health of a lawn. Experts recommend at least 3 inches because it shades out sun-loving weeds and encourages good root development. Taller turf also shades the soil more than shorter turf thereby helping to keep soil cool and moist.
Experts agree that a lawn requires no more than one inch of water a week. Sometimes, rain will provide your lawn with all the water it requires. At other times, irrigation is required. As a general rule, water deeply once a week during the early morning or early evening. Watering during the late evening is not recommended because cooler temperatures and sitting water invite disease.
Biological Pest Control
By using substantial diversity in pest control we are able to reduce, if not completely eradicate the use of common lawn and garden chemicals. There are many benefits of controlling pests and diseases with natural predators. The main benefit being a reduced impact on environment and human health and ensuring geographic biological diversity is preserved. This method of pest management is also most often the most cost effective.
Aphid problem? Letâ€™s release some of your favorite garden visitors, ladybugs. European Chaffer destroying your lawn? Root Weevil destroying your broad leaf evergreen? Invisible to the human eye but always working hard, Nematodes may be the answer. Those are just two of the many natural fixes for common landscape problems.
Starting a compost pile is an excellent way to enhance soil quality and diminish trash volume. A well built compost pile will not let off any odor and can be used in garden beds in as little as 12-15 weeks. Autumn is a great time to build a compost pile. You can start with all your grass clippings, tree leaves, annuals and vegetables that have been cut down for the winter. By the time you are ready to get out into the garden so will your healthy pile of new soil.