Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Aspire to a truly "green" lawn

I believe that people can get addicted to their lawns. Why else would anyone want to spray chemical concoctions in their yards during the only time of the year that we lounge about on our lawns?

Even walking past a yard posted with chemical spray warnings stresses me out. It’s as bad as secondhand smoke (and possibly worse).

There’s a good reason why the Canadian Cancer Society is a cheerleader for the ban on cosmetic pesticides. There are mountains of data implicating repeated exposure to pesticides in everything from brain and lung cancer, to kidney damage, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, reproductive disorders, and increased rates of childhood leukemia. Dozens of physician’s groups endorse bans, and two provinces have legislated bans. I’m still waiting for my provincial government to make a decision.

Even though my family and I have a relaxed approach to our lawn (that's an understatement), I can appreciate that many people love the look of a lawn that’s lush and green. If you fit into that category, don’t feel that your only option is chemical. You can create a lush beautiful lawn that’s fit for rolling on, using an all-natural regime.
1. Once a year top-dress your lawn with compost and over-seed with hardy grass varieties that thrive in our climate. I’m partial to clover (it’s soft underfoot).
2. Feed your lawn twice a year, and make sure you choose an all-natural fertilizer. There are so many to choose from that you don’t need to resort to petroleum-based chemicals. Read labels (good luck) or visit Halifax Seed for recommendations.
3. Let your lawn nourish itself by leaving grass clippings to compost.
4. To figure out what your lawn needs, have the soil analyzed (or do it yourself with a kit from Halifax Seed). Healthy soil should have a pH of 6 to 7. Adding the right nutrients to the soil will encourage micro-organisms to develop. They help to keep your lawn healthy and ward off pests. Chemical lawn treatments kill off these micro-organisms and leave your lawn more vulnerable.
5. Don’t mow too short. To help your lawn hold moisture be careful not to clip it below 2.5- 3 inches high. This is important to establishing and maintaining deep, healthy roots and will help your lawn squeeze out weeds.
6. During dry periods water your lawn deeply. Water long enough to fill a tuna can (about an inch of water). Water in the early morning or evening to limit evaporation.
7. If you have any bare spots top-dress and over-seed them so weeds don’t get there first.
8. If weeds really bother you dig some of them by hand (or pay the neighbours’ kids to do it for you).

Whether you’re obsessed with your grass or just hope for a half decent lawn each summer, keep in mind that your sanity isn’t the only health issue to consider when it comes to lawn care. Choosing chemical-free alternatives will keep us all a lot healthier.

This blog was previously published in KV Style (

No comments: