pesticidefreezone_medium.JPGWhen we bought our first home, many moons ago, I was very keen on the idea of having a lush green lawn and I’m ashamed to admit I used pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers with impunity. You see, I’d grown up in the suburbs, where having good grass is paramount. Additionally, as a new homeowner, I was slightly intimidated by the nastygrams from our HOA (home owners association)—they were sent immediately should one’s grass fall to the wayside and practically insisted we use chemicals on our property lest we be in “violation” of the sacred HOA rules.

In my ignorance, I believed the home improvement superstore employees who insisted those products were fine—that once you watered it in and it dried, your grass was safe. In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth.

Fortunately, we no longer live in a deed-restricted subdivision and we can keep our grass any way we like and the way we keep it is chemical-free. Instead of dumping synthetic fertilizers all over it, we use compost and on occasion, we spread around few bags of Black Cow manure-based fertilizer. We also got rid of the water-hungry, bug-enticing St. Augustine sod and planted new grass from seed that was suited to our hot, sunny climate and it grows all year round with almost no extraneous watering other than the rain. It self-propagates and seems to be of little interest to bugs and snails which means we no longer need pesticides, either.

We do get weeds from time to time but instead of going crazy with the herbicides, I’ve used corn gluten meal or boiling water on them or sometimes I just get out there and pull them, which I find strangely satisfying. Any spots where weeds used to be fill in with with grass pretty quickly. But more important than how it looks, which is not bad considering the minimal effort we put into it, is the fact that my kids and my cats can be in the yard, front or back, and I don’t have to worry about them being exposed to dangerous chemicals or that we’re contributing to polluting our water supply.

The short list of facts about pesticides & herbicides effects on human health:

• According to the National Cancer research Institute, pesticides and herbicides are a probable cause of certain cancers (i.e., cancers of the brain, prostrate, stomach and lip, as well as leukemia, skin melanomas and Hodgkin’s lymphoma) especially among farmers.

• The National Academy of Sciences reported that infants and young children, due to their developing bodies and brains, are more susceptible to the negative effects of herbicides and pesticides in comparison to adults.

• Many herbicides and pesticides mimic estrogen hormones and disrupt the endocrine system in humans and animals. Estrogen plays a very crucial role in human reproduction and child development, so anything inflicting damage on the endocrine system will interfere with reproductive health. Additionally, organochlorine pesticides have been linked to increasingly common genital malformations in newborn boys.

• Exposure to herbicides and pesticides can negatively impact fertility in both sexes.

• The National Academy of Sciences reports that at least one out of seven people are significantly harmed by pesticide exposure each year. I suspect this number would be much higher if it included those harmed by long term effects that don’t manifest right away.

The best way to keep your natural, chemical-free lawn looking great is to use natural and integrative methods of pest and weed control. It may not be a simple as having Chem-Lawn come and spray your grass 2x a month but the peace of mind you get from knowing your lawn is safe for you, your kids and your pets is worth it, in my humble opinion.

Here are some great resources:

National Coalition for Pesticide Free Lawns

8 Helpful Hints for a Healthy, Chemical-Free Lawn from Healthychild.org

Beyond Pesticides

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This post is part of the Healthy Child Blog Carnival – an effort by Healthy Child Healthy World to help inspire a movement to protect children from harmful chemicals.

This month’s topic is “Splendor in the Grass: Greener Gardens, Yards and Outdoor Spaces.”

Please check out some of the other posts from the this month’s carnival:

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