Home and the Environment
more manual labor—hand-weeding—is one way to reduce the amount
of herbicide we use, but there are a couple of other tricks you
can use, as well:
heavily with an organic mulch such as shredded cedar, straw, cocoa
hulls, or compost. This will help keep down the weeds and help
the soil stay cool and retain water. These materials will eventually
break down, adding nutrients to the soil and reducing the need
yourself with a variety of weeders to make weeding easier and
more effective. These include dandelion weeders, wing weeders,
stirrup weeders, and cultivators, among others.
can also fight weeds with heat: pour boiling water on them or
hit them with a flame weeder.
weeds before they go to seed to avoid their spreading.
Reducing Fertilizer Use
is one point that often gets overlooked in the battle over chemical
versus organic fertilizer: too much of either adds to the run-off
problem affecting our lakes and rivers. Acre for acre, studies show
that urban areas are responsible for more run-off than farms. Here
are some ideas for alternatives to fertilizer and for safe use of
gardens with compost, this reduces weeds and enriches the soil.
purchasing fertilizer, get one appropriate for your needs and
buy only as much as you need.
reduce runoff, follow the package directions for application rates,
and apply fertilizer only on a calm, clear day.
Avoid Being a Slave to Your Lawn
is possible to have a lawn that doesn't require constant
fussing and fertilizing. Using these techniques can save you time
and money and reduce the amount of water and chemicals your lawn
the grass long. This shades the roots, reducing water requirements.
the grass clippings on the lawn. They will decompose quickly,
returning nitrogen to the soil.
frequent light waterings, which contribute to shallow root growth.
[Note, this is what causes thatch, not clippings left on the
lawn!] During the growing season, lawns should get one inch
of rain or supplemental water per week, preferably in just one
or two applications.
the lawn annually to avoid compacted soil and allow water and
air to reach roots more easily. Use a core aerator, which pulls
plugs from the lawn, not a spike aerator.
grasses appropriate for your area and growing conditions. They
will be less fussy than imports not suited for your soil and
a mix of grasses. Monocultures are more likely to be totally
wiped out by weeds, insects, drought, or disease.
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