Lawn fertilizers are back in the headlines after a school groundskeeper won a substantial settlement from a manufacturer, claiming the popular weed-killer caused his cancer. And while the company says it will appeal the verdict, citing scientific studies proving its products’ safety, it still pays to take a second look at what you’re using on your lawn.
Keep in mind, too, that what goes on our lawns can also seep into our water sources. Here are a few ways you can play it safe.
Prep your lawn
Give your lawn a fighting chance. Aerate the soil so that the nutrients can get deep into the soil. Remove the thatch, the dead grass and weeds that form a water-tight barrier. Raise your blades on your mower, allowing the grass to grow to three inches, which strengthens the root system. And this fall, overseed your lawn, allowing it to repair the summer stress and get a head start on spring. Be smart in watering your lawn, too. Did you know the average Utah homeowner uses about twice the water needed to keep up their landscape? Think infrequent and deep, which brings us back to aerating. Believe us, it’s worth the effort.
Go organic, using grass clippings and compost to boost your soil nutrients. And try this tip from This Old House, adding a pound of clover to every 1,000 square feet of lawn. It’s a broadleaf weed that takes nitrogen from the air and feeds it to your soil. There are also a number of natural products on the market that use ingredients like seaweed and bone meal to correct soil deficiencies. (Take soil samples from several areas to your local extension service to see what your lawn is craving.) And be sure to check out the Oquirrh Mountain compost products available at the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility.
Use chemicals wisely
Not ready to give up your chemical fertilizers and pesticides? Then here are some ways to lower their impact on the environment. Apply them sparingly, when it isn’t too hot and there’s no wind to blow them around. Avoid using them near sidewalks, driveways and roads, where the run-off could contaminate water sources. And when they’re not in use, store them carefully, away from living quarters, in their original containers so they’re not mistaken for something else.
Keep in mind, too, that by lowering your lawn’s dependence on chemicals, you encourage it to thrive on its own. And while that may take a season or so to fully accomplish, the final result – a lush, environmentally friendly lawn – is well worth the effort.