I live in the suburbs, and as a suburbanite, there seems to be an unspoken rule that your lawn should be weed and dandelion free. Well, it is safe to say we have broken that rule. Our lawn is kind of a mess right now because we haven’t treated it in the 2 summers we have lived here and the weeds are taking over a bit.
I admit, I am a little embarrassed by our atypical suburban lawn, but we are working hard this year to get it in shape. This does not mean I’m calling a lawn company to spray chemicals on my lawn, nor are we putting pesticides on our lawn ourselves. We have decided that our health and the health of our children (who play in our yard daily) is more important than keeping the suburban code.
Here is some of the info I’ve dug up on why pesticides on lawns are NOT SAFE:
- Children who live in homes where pesticides are used have a 4 times greater risk of developing leukemia. If pesticides are used in a garden, the risk jumps to 6.5 times greater risk.
- The pesticide MCPA has been shown to disrupt the blood brain barrier in adults. A defective blood brain barrier is often found in patients with Alzheimer’s and certain psychiatric disorders. Infants with an immature blood brain barrier can develop brain damage when exposed to common chemicals while an adult would not.
- The EPA has classified mancozeb and chlorothalonil (used by some commercial lawn spray companies) as “probable” cancer causing chemicals in humans. Mancozeb reacts with sunlight to form an EPA recognized “known” human carcinogen.
- Farmers exposed to 2,4-D have a 6 times greater risk of developing lymphatic cancer.
“Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogenicity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Of those same pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.”
The EPA even has this advice to offer from their website:
“Pest control is not the same as pest elimination. Insisting on getting rid of all pests inside and outside your home will lead you to make more extensive, repeated, and possibly hazardous chemical treatments than are necessary. Be reasonable. Ask yourself these questions:
Does your lawn really need to be totally weed free?
- Recognizing that some insects are beneficial to your lawn, do you need to get rid of all of them?
- Can you tolerate some blemished fruits and vegetables from your garden?
Is anyone in your home known to be particularly sensitive to chemicals?”
Even the EPA is asking us to get a grip and be realistic about what a suburban lawn should look like. I now see lawns differently. A “healthy” lawn is one without dangerous chemicals, regardless of the amount of weeds in my eyes.
This year, my family is trying out a product by Firebelly called Organic Lawn in a Box. I’ll keep you posted as to how it does! We are also trying to keep a healthy lawn by cutting our grass high (2.5-3.5 inches) to choke out weed growth. Also, this summer, we plan to water infrequently, but deeply when we do. Weeds have shallow roots, so if they aren’t watered often, they will die quicker than the grass.
Do you have any green lawn care tips? Please share!