Spring is finally here. The birds are chirping, buds are appearing on our trees, and our neighborhood is peppered with tiny little flags, declaring that a pesticide application has taken place.
When I go on walks with my dog and young children, we are usually walking on a sidewalk covered in little white granules of poison, courtesy of the lawn companies. We can breathe in fresh air or the strong chemical odor of a lawn that has just been treated with herbicides, insecticides and other pesticides, depending on whose house we pass by, as neighbors strive to achieve the perfect green yard.
But just how green is it to use poison in our yards? To me, the idea of a weed-free, lush green lawn is an outdated notion. It's an inherited belief from decades ago, before we were more knowledgeable about the environment, toxins, and conserving water. And like so many outdated, inherited beliefs, it is one I do not plan on passing down to my children.
So when we moved into our house six years ago, before we even had kids, I made sure there wasn't a drop, (or granule), of poison being placed in my yard. Like that wise foam frog once said, "It's not easy being green." He's right, it isn't always easy, but here are 6 reasons why our lawn is chemical-free.
1.) We try to eat organic foods as much as possible to decrease our children's exposure to synthetic pesticides and herbicides, so why would we want our kids running, rolling, and playing in grass that is coated in poison? While it is easy to be fooled by lawn companies who have words like "green," "natural," or "nature" in their names, or whose products even state that they are "natural" or "organic," it just takes one phone call to find out that they are, in fact, regular weed-and-feed programs, and although one tiny component in their application may be natural or organic, there is still poison being applied to your environment. We were lucky to find a truly natural lawn feeding program in our state. They use only natural ingredients to nourish the soil but they don't do anything for your weeds other than over-seeding your grass.
2.) Lawn pesticides, like the broadleaf weed-killer 2,4-D, (one of the components of Agent Orange), have been associated with several health issues, including various cancers in humans and pets. I grew up in a household that always had our lawn treated. A family member got cancer at a younger age and my dog died of Lymphoma, one of the canine cancers associated with lawn chemicals. Of course, there could be no association between these illnesses and the chemicals that were sprayed monthly on our grass, but now, as a parent, if I can remove even one of the factors associated with cancer from our daily routine, why wouldn't I?
3.) Maintaining a weed-free lawn is an easily-available source of exercise. If I didn't live in a subdivision surrounded by neighbors, I wouldn't bother dealing with our weeds. After all, many of them are native plants. But since I do live in a neighborhood and the weeds could totally overtake our grass if not dealt with, we remove our weeds manually. Sure it's work, but it's a great way to get some fresh air while burning some calories, and our kids can play right by our side as we work. There are even some tools that can make manual weeding easier, like an upright broad-leaf weeding tool, that allows you to stand up and remove the weed by using your foot on the tool. It apparently looks like it is so much fun, my kids can't wait until the day they are old enough to use it in our yard.
4.) It's a boost to the neighborhood teenage economy. Sometimes life gets busy and the weeding gets to be too much for us. That's when we are able to hire teenagers from our neighborhood to do some of the yardwork. It's a summer job that they can get to without driving and since there are always weeds, there is always work if they are interested.
5.) It's an easy way to practice what you preach. I try to teach my kids about caring for the environment and respecting it, while doing as little harm to nature as possible in the modern world. With Earth Day around the corner, I can just turn to our yard to give my kids a lesson in these values.
6.) The Kratt Brothers said to avoid lawn poisons. No really. That is now one of my top six reasons. Because after years of me telling my oldest why we don't use poison in our yard, he finally wholeheartedly believes in the importance of avoiding pesticides since last month, when he saw the firefly episode of the Wild Kratts, and the Kratt brothers mentioned avoiding bug-killing pesticides in your lawn to help the firefly population.
So there you have it. My six reasons for keeping my lawn pesticide-free. It's not always easy being green, but to me, it is worth it.