Late Summer Lawn Care
Just say no and it will grow
The dog days are here and our lawns are starting to show it. We had ample rain to bring the green through the spring and early summer but now the hot, dry days challenge our carpet of chlorophyll. For many, the price of a pretty lawn starts with that first green blade of spring: aerating, pre-emergent, fertilizing, seeding, weeding, pest control and cutting are only some of the liabilities. By late summer, add water costs to the bill. But are we paying an even higher price, mortgaging our health for a manicured mat of green stuff?
Get Lawns Off Drugs When we use chemicals on lawns to kill bugs and weeds, those poisons show up in our bodies. It’s easy to realize that if something kills a living organism, it may not be a good idea for that substance to be building up in our own cells. Apparently, a lot of people would rather have green grass than healthy children, pets and bodies. People toss around devastating weed-zapping chemicals just to take the easy route to a green lawn. But experts warn that we are endangering our own health as well as the micro-environment that is our lawn.
The current crop of popular lawn chemicals may be more dangerous as the ones that have ended up banned in the past. Once, DDT was considered safe as mother’s milk — until it started showing up there. We were told DDT was safe but it was banned in 1972. And if you are using that popular weed killer RoundUp or any of its chemical cousins, you are spreading a cancer-causing chemical where you, your kids and pets play. Think about it. One scientist for the EPA, Dr. Routt Reigart, was quoted by CNN as saying “There are concerns with many of the chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides,” he said. “You should use the chemicals as little as possible — and in many cases that means never at all.” Know this: the danger and the cost of those lawn chemicals is unnecessary. [News Alert: At the moment of this writing, word has reached Heartland Healing from our Southern California correspondent Deni King, the cities of Burbank and Irvine have banned glyphosate (the deadly ingredient in “RoundUp”) from use in parks and public areas. It had previously been disallowed on school areas.]
Kick some grass. There are the options to using toxic chemicals on our lawns. Life puts nutrients into the soil. Chemicals kill life and that is why we end up so reliant on the artificial petroleum-based fertilizers and the companies that sell them to us. With the help of the following tips, in very little time and with only a little work, your yard and lawn can be as healthy and drug free as if it spent the summer in rehab.
Get Real. Take a realistic perspective on your lawn. It needn’t be 100% weed-free or golf-course perfect. If you change your perception of what you want, you may end up with a diverse ecology in your yard with plants other than grass that can be equally as attractive. Many homeowners are allowing small areas of the yard to revert to a natural overgrowth with native plants. These areas can be groomed to look good but don’t require the attention (or poisons) necessary for the manicured look. Native bushes and prairie grass make an interesting and carefree part of the yard.
Get Your Mow-joe Working. Now that we are into the drier part of the season, start mowing at the highest setting to keep the grass as long as you can. Longer grass holds more moisture and shades the groundcover to deny weed growth. During these long, hot days of summer, mow in the evening or on a cloudy day to avoid shock and stress on the grass. Always use a sharp mower blade to keep from making ragged cuts on the grass. Don’t mow when wet. Use a mulching mower that cuts the grass so finely that the grass residue serves as an organic fertilizer, no need for additional fertilizers. But if you do fertilize, make it organic. Note: If you are just beginning to wean your lawn off drugs, collect and discard the clippings. They contain the very chemicals you are trying to avoid.
Water Wisely. Water deeply, down to the roots, rather than often. Water early in the day. Dawn is best. For a lush lawn, two or three times a week is all that is needed. To simply keep it viable, once every ten days is enough. Water the yard and not the sidewalk or driveway. Be innovative. We dressed the hose that carries our air conditioner condensation in such a way that it irrigates our garden.
Control Weeds and Bugs Naturally. Educate yourself about natural ways to control these. For example, if you have problems with aphids, mealy worms, etc., remember that one ladybug eats about 100 of those a day. A herd of ladybugs is better than a gallon of poison. A few minutes spent in the yard digging weeds or crabgrass is a non-toxic way to rid the lawn of plant pests. Overseed bare patches. The thicker the grass, the less likely it is that weeds will survive. Often a rinse with a garden hose can knock pests from plants. Some sources recommend spraying a very weak solution of biodegradable dish soap liquid and water for many insects. Even grubs have natural enemies. There is a type of nematode that attacks them and leaves all else alone.
Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com. and like us on Facebook.