The birds are singing, the snowdrops are up, and the daffodils and crocuses are about to delight us with their colors. This means it is time to plan for your yard care.
By The Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee
The birds are singing, the snowdrops are up, and the daffodils and crocuses are about to delight us with their colors. This means it is time to plan for your yard care. Whether you are negotiating contracts with lawn-care professionals for the growing season or planning to do your own gardening and maintenance, it’s time to commit to organic practices, and here’s why.
Chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are a risk to human health.
*The EPA has not tested the safety of all the pesticides used on lawns, but all the products that have been tested have proved unsafe. It is actually illegal for manufacturers to claim that any pesticide is safe.
*Research has linked exposure to pesticides to an increase in some types of cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys, immune, nervous and endocrine systems. Studies have also shown that pesticides are linked to reproductive issues, birth defects, and asthma.
*Children are especially susceptible to the effects of pesticides because they are outside more and have immature organs that cannot rid the body of toxins as well as an adult’s body. The National Cancer Institute found that children are six times more likely to develop childhood cancer when pesticides are used.
Chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers harm the environment.
*Many pesticides remain toxic well after the 24-hour window recommended by manufacturers. Some pesticides break down to be even more powerful and damaging.
*Pesticides often sicken or kill non-targeted species. The good bugs that keep aphids and other damaging insects at bay are destroyed. Birds, fish and family pets can be harmed seriously. Research has linked pesticides on owners’ lawns to malignant brain tumors in dogs.
*Runoff from pesticides and synthetic fertilizers pollutes our water. These chemicals become a part of our ground water, rivers, lakes, streams and oceans. 12 commonly used lawn chemicals are on the EPA’s list of drinking water contaminants.
There are natural, effective alternatives.
*Use biological products such as your own grass clippings, bone meal, wood ash, and natural compost to fertilize naturally.
*Apply corn gluten to grass to deter weeds.
*Pull up dandelions by the root with the help of a kitchen knife or the tool the Weed Hound (and you won’t have to get on your knees.) Decapitating dandelions before they germinate will impede their spread.
*Aerate and de-thatch lawns to keep growth robust and prevent chinch bugs.
*Introduce beneficial insects. Ladybugs, lace wings, pirate bugs, and more can be ordered online and introduced to your property to re-establish natural order.
*Purchase pest-resistant varieties of seeds.
*Use herbicidal and insecticidal soaps to deal with invasive weeds and plant-eating bugs. To stop grubs, apply milky spore, a natural bacterium that is approved by the EPA and also available at gardening centers, in April or August.
If you employ a professional landscape service, make it clear you want them to refrain from using any harmful chemical. Many of our neighbors have already done this, so it should not be a difficult conversation with your gardener. Because past use of toxic chemicals destroys the micro-biotic life that exists in healthy soil, it will take at least a season for the soil to begin to recover. Be patient! You will have a healthier yard and will be doing your part for the health of our greater community.
For more information, read about the New Great American Lawn at www.organiclandcare.net.