A Natural Cure for Spring Fever
It’s springtime and you’re just itching to get your garden going and your lawn in tip-top shape. But did you know that what you put on your yard can have a serious impact on streams, rivers, and even far-off coral reef ecosystems?
Synthetic Chemicals Destroy More Than Weeds
According to NOAA’s National Ocean Service, excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus — ingredients in synthetic fertilizers and pesticides — can leach from lawn and garden soil into groundwater that feeds our rivers and bays. Ultimately, the ocean waters that support coral reefs also become contaminated.
Toxic levels of these nutrients can suffocate creeks, ponds, streams and rivers, killing plants, fish and other vital habitats. Your family and pets also are at risk for exposure.
The Dirt on Organic Alternatives for Your Lawn and Garden
Before you run to your local garden center, check out safe, natural, and more creative alternatives to traditional lawn/garden chemicals. You can find these environmentally-safe products (except the beer and vinegar) in most garden centers:
- Chicken poop: This excellent fertilizer delivers a balanced blend of nutrients.
- Organic kelp meal: This brown seaweed harvested from cold waters is a great supplement to other plants foods and soil conditioners.
- Humus: Manure, peat moss, and compost are known collectively as humus. These organic materials bring balance to the soil and increase the metabolism of a plant’s root system, producing a healthier plant.
- Corn gluten meal: This powdery byproduct of the corn milling process is a very effective plant food and weed suppressor. It’s safe for pets, plants and shrubs, and it won't burn your lawn.
- Vinegar: The acetic acid in vinegar makes for a powerful weed killer. The higher the concentration of acetic acid, the better it works. Be sure to pour it only over weeds.
- Boiling water: Boiling water instantly destroys weeds by effectively cooking weeds and their roots.
- Fox urine: Nothing frightens away mice, rabbits, mole, skunks, groundhogs, and chipmunks better than the distinct smell of a predator. Fox urine is environment-friendly and biodegradable.
- Beer: Slugs love a good nightcap. Place a shallow dish or saucer of beer out where you are having a slug problem. The next morning, you’ll find a dish filled with dead slugs.
- Lady bugs: Here’s a colorful way to protect your plants. When released into your garden, ladybugs will feed on insect pests, especially aphids.
Give yourself the gift of a greener, healthier lawn and garden — and help preserve our nation’s natural resources at the same time. Consult with your local nursery or garden centers on organic products available in your area.
To learn more about the effects of chemicals and pesticides on our waterways and marine life, visit NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science Pollution Web site.