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Eco News Organic Gardening Grow a "Green"er Lawn - Pesticide Free Zone
Grow a "Green"er Lawn - Pesticide Free Zone PDF Print E-mail
Eco News

lawn_mower_xs.jpgChemical lawn pesticides and fertilizers put the health of your children, pets, local wildlife and environment at risk.

With dedication and some work, you can have a lawn that is green—both in color and in being Eco-friendly, will leave your neighbors green with envy, and will be safe for your children, pets and local wildlife.

 

The Quick Facts: According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 78 million households in the United States use home and garden pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Chemical lawn pesticides and fertilizers put the health of your children, pets, local wildlife and environment at risk.

According to Beyond Pesticides, a nonprofit membership organization that works to protect public health and the environment from toxic pesticides, of the 30 most commonly used pesticides, 13 are probable or possible carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 are linked with reproductive effects, 15 are linked with neurotoxicity, 26 are associated with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.

If you live in a location with a cold winter climate, believe it or not, the frozen tundra that is your yard will soon be coming out of hibernation. While last fall you probably couldn't wait to put the yard tools down for a long winter's nap, chances are you are already stirring to get your hands on the garden rake and get outdoors into warmer temperatures.

Your springtime enthusiasm could pay high dividends as most experts agree that lawn care efforts in early spring and fall are vital for a healthy lawn. But before you rush the local hardware store for a bag of Weed and Feed or hire a professional lawn care company to care for your lawn, consider that a healthy lawn is a "green" lawn, and a "green" lawn is healthier for you and your kids.

Hazards of Chemical Lawn Care
Many of us strive to have a lawn that is more lush and green than the Jones'. In doing so, we think little of the health and environmental impacts of the chemical pesticides used, but only of the aesthetic benefits gained.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 78 million households in the United States use home and garden pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Herbicides account for the highest percentage of pesticides used with over 90 million pounds applied on lawns and gardens every year.

These statistics confirm that we are not alone in our endeavor to have the lawn that the rest of the neighborhood envies. But is out-competing the Jones' really worth the risks?

Risks to Your Kids' Health

According to Beyond Pesticides, a nonprofit membership organization that works to protect public health and the environment from toxic pesticides, of the 30 most commonly used pesticides, 13 are probable or possible carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 are linked with reproductive effects, 15 are linked with neuro-toxicity, 26 are associated with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides because they take in more pesticides relative to body weight than do adults and they have developing organ systems that are more vulnerable and less able to detoxify toxic chemicals.

The National Academy of Sciences estimates that 50% of lifetime pesticide exposure occurs during the first five years of life, which is likely due to the fact that infants and small children are more likely to be on the ground and putting their hands in their mouth.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia by almost seven times, while another study found that such pesticide use can increase a child's likelihood of developing asthma.

Risks to the Health of Animals
Even Fido isn't safe, as studies have found that a dog's exposure to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens can double its chance of developing canine lymphoma and increase the risk of bladder cancer in certain breeds by up to seven times. Your local wildlife is also at risk as pesticides can find their way into surface and ground waters and can be toxic to birds, fish, other aquatic organisms, and beneficial insects such as bees.

Risks to the Environment
Chemical fertilizers, while not necessarily "toxic" in themselves, are often found in a product that is mixed with chemical herbicides. Moreover, chemical fertilizers release nutrients quickly, reducing the efficiency of nutrient uptake by grasses, increasing the likelihood of killing valuable microorganisms in the soil, and increasing the likelihood of runoff and danger (such as algal blooms) to waterways.

Going "Green"
If you want a "green" lawn that is primarily green grass, getting a "green" lawn is a multi-step process that involves much more than just giving up the use of chemical pesticides. assessing the existing lawn and soil quality and organically amending;

If this all sounds like a lot more work than you care to take on, there are professional lawn care companies that use an organic approach. When hiring such companies, ensure that their "all-natural" or "organic" claims have the same definition as what you expect. Investigate the products the company uses, the specifics of their lawn care program, and read all fine print to ensure that chemicals are never used, even under "certain conditions".

seeding with weed seed-free high quality climate-appropriate and pest-resistant grasses; aerating,  de-thatching, fertilizing with natural organic fertilizers, watering properly, mowing properly and removing leaves; and controlling weeds, insects and disease with proper lawn maintenance and biological options.

In the end, getting a "green" lawn may take a little more effort and time. And, well, to be perfectly honest, your house may not be drifting on a sea of emerald blades. But the choice is yours: a toxic green lawn or simply a "green" lawn? And, the best part of all in choosing a "green" lawn? You can let the Jones' know that your grass is "green"er by proudly adorning your front yard with an eight- inch Pesticide Free Zone lawn sign (available for only $10 )

Information used in this article was found at the following sources, which you can visit if you want to find out more about this topic:

providing answers to "Commonly Asked Questions About Chemical Lawn Care"

(website devoted to "halt[ing] the senseless use and exposure to lawn pesticides that are so pervasively used in the U.S."; provides multitude of links related to alternative lawn care and information on the hazards of chemical lawn care)

Beyond Pesticides fact sheet: "8 Steps to a Toxic-Free Lawn"

gardensalive

although specific to the Ohio climate, a thorough resource for organic lawn care; also provides a non-exhaustive list of catalog sources for organic lawn care supplies.

reprint of Journal of Pesticide Reform article entitled, Taking Care of Your Lawn without Using Pesticides

provides concise, yet detailed information on organic lawn maintenance

realmama green lawn

 

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