Not long ago I talked about an encounter with a TruGreen (ChemLawn) truck and feeling as though we were going to be asphyxiated as we drove by the chemical spray being applied to a neighborhood lawn.
I simultaneously felt a sense of guilt that I used to have a lawn service and those same chemicals were once sprayed on my yard. I still gasp at the thought. Those chemicals are pollutants that contaminate ground and surface water, as well as pose a threat to wildlife and beneficial insects. Plus they create serious health risks for humans, with children being the most vulnerable.
But those precious little feet can still have a healthy, green lawn. And if you just adopt some simple practices, you can have a nice, clear conscience too:
- Go easy on the watering – lawns only need an inch of water per week so this means about ONCE a week. And if mother nature is helping (via rain), even less frequently. Too many shallow waterings also bring roots to the surface and burn out the lawn faster.
- Don’t “mow low” – the optimal length is 3”, so don’t over-mow or mow too short. Taller grass grows a deeper root system, grows slower, requires less water and helps prevent weeds.
- Don’t “ bag it” – mulching mowers actually cut grass and chop it so it can act like mulch to hold moisture, but if you do have a bagging mower, consider composting the clippings.
- Consider timing – don’t mow in the heat of the day (grass loses moisture) and water in the early morning or evenings to prevent evaporation.
- Water wisely – actually water the lawn (not sidewalks and drives!), use timers or pay attention not to overwater and prevent waste.
- If you must control a few weeds – use white vinegar in a spray bottle and spot treat.
- Go crazy – sell your lawn mower and buy a push mower (although my husband’s not “buying that one” just yet!).
- Skip the fertilizers – even the organic kind. Honestly, do you really need them?
I think all we really want is a lawn that is healthy and green… a place where our kids can run, play and roll around without worry, and a sense that we aren’t doing more harm than good “in pursuit of the most pristine lawn on the block”. I assure you, your kids don’t care about that, but the environment surely does.