Healthy Environment/Healthy Kids: Natural Lawns
Lawns are the most widely-grown crop in the U.S., and they’re not one that anyone can eat; their primary purpose is to make us look and feel good about ourselves, according to Scientific American. Your status as a good member of your community is often dependent on how well you can maintain your lawn; weed-free, well-watered, trimmed and neatly edged. In order to create these lawns, Americans spend seven hundred million dollars each year on almost seventy million pounds of lawn pesticides, according to Grassroots Environmental Education. But these pesticides are dangerous to the health of children, pregnant women and individuals with allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities. In addition, regular pesticide use can kill the soil microorganisms and weaken the lawn plants so that they are more prone to disease and insect attack. Fortunately, you can have a beautiful lawn without using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. One of the most important aspects of caring for a lawn is to create healthy soil. Instead of chemical fertilizers, add humus and microbes by top-dressing with compost and applying biological mixes of microbial inoculants or teas. Add white clover to your grass seed mix; clover can take nitrogen out of the air and make it available to the grass, thus reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen. Also, leaving grass clippings on the grass provides nitrogen. Setting your mower to 3 to 3 1/2 inches allows the grass to shade its roots, which maintains moisture and keeps out weeds. There are many websites that offer advice about caring for your lawn more naturally. Whether you maintain your own property or use a professional lawn service, begin using these practices for a safer, healthier place for your family and your pets. This message is part of an ongoing Education Project of Transition Town Manchester.