Chemical Free Lawns & Gardens
When it comes to chemicals for your lawn and garden, it’s best to just say no. Or, at the very least, use very sparingly, read their labels and apply safely. For waterfront property owners, this is especially important. What we do to our properties matters to all of us, especially if that property borders a waterbody. Per the US Fish and Wildlife Service, homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre than farmers use on their crops. Our local farmers have made great progress in limiting their use of chemicals and managing their runoff. Homeowners, particularly waterfront property owners need to do their part as well. Our proximity to the water makes the use of these chemicals even more harmful because the damage is so much more widespread
Herbicides and pesticides are designed to kill things – plants, insects, spiders, animals. But they can kill many things besides their intended targets- birds, pollinators, caterpillars, beneficial insects and plants. Chemicals applied to lawns and gardens can be easily washed off into nearby lakes and rivers, killing fry, fish and the macroinvertebrates that fish eat, including dragonfly and damselfly larvae. So, even if the package label claims it’s “safe” for use on lawns, it probably isn’t safe in lakes. If you must use an herbicide, use a targeted approach, spraying only the individual unwanted weed, not the entire lawn or garden.
Fertilizers, on the other hand, are designed to grow things. However, when they wash off into our lakes, they continue to grow things- algae. That thick green, smelly algae, particularly blue green algae, requires nutrients like the nitrogen and phosphorous in these fertilizers to grow. The more nutrients, the more algae. Before applying any fertilizer, get a soil sample analysis done to see if you even need it. Compost, grass clippings and fallen leaves (cut up with a lawn mower) can provide a natural fertilizer that is readily available, free, easier to keep on our lawns and gardens and less likely to be washed away with rainfall. Allow clover to grow in your lawn. Clover has the ability to capture nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil, making it another natural fertilizer.
Be good stewards of your property and our lakes and rivers. If you use a lawn service, instruct them to withhold all chemical use. If you do your own property maintenance, limit or eliminate entirely your use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Our water quality depends on us – ALL of us – to do the right thing.