Caring for and Healing the Earth


Natural Steps To A Healthy Lawn

Alternative to Pesticides Team (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario)
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Safe Solutions to Outdoor Problems

A Word About "Weeds"

The word "weed" is a term we give to a harmless plant that we consider to be growing in the wrong place, (including grass growing where it is not wanted). So-called "weeds" are mainly herbs and wildflowers. They are seldom a problem in a healthy lawn because grass crowds them out. "Weeds" can be beneficial for the soil, for wildlife, for food and medicine, etc. and should be thought of more kindly as part of nature. Many are beneficial herbs, for example, clover is a natural fertilizer - it fixes nitrogen in the soil. It is healthy and more interesting to have some diversity in your lawn. If however, some "weeds" are not desired, you can dig them out before they go to seed, trying to get most of the root, or simply mow them. For vegetable or flower gardens, use mulch of wood chips, etc. 10 to 15 cm. thick and hoe regularly. Leaves that have been run over with a lawn mower can also work as mulch.

Ants: Use bone meal, borax, or diatomaceous earth (available as "Insectigone" or "Fossil Flower") at burrow opening. Encircle point of entry with line of red chili powder, paprika or dried peppermint leaves.

Aphids: In blender, mix garlic, green onion tops & 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce. Strain and mix with soapy water. Spray garden, wait 1/2 hr. and rinse, or just hose off affected plants. May use indigenous variety of ladybugs in moderation. Birds eat aphids.

Mosquitoes: Remove source of standing water or add goldfish (they eat the larvae) [However, goldfish are not a native species and cause other problems]. Plant savory near doorway, build a bat or bird house. Wear light, tight cuffed clothes, add few drops anise oil to laundry rinse. Eat garlic, brewers yeast, use only botanical based repellent ("Deflector" or "Walkabout").

Rodents: Seal cracks and other points of entry. Install humane traps. Eliminate food source. For night diggers ( e.g. skunks, raccoons), sprinkle blood meal on lawn - the smell repels them.

Slugs, Snails & Earwigs: Place a dish full of stale beer in garden, insects will enter and drown. Place flower pot upside down in garden. Insects will gather under pot and drown. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (see "Ants" for brand names) around base of plants.

Tent Caterpillars: Pick off larvae by hand when they cluster together in late evening or on cool days. Prune off egg bands from small branches and use knife to scrape the egg bands off larger limbs.

"Weeds" In Between Cracks: Use weed whacker or dig out or learn to live with them. Can also pour very hot water over them.

White Grubs: Larvae feed on grass roots which wilt & turn brown. Create a dense healthy lawn by aerating, fertilizing naturally and overseeding. Use soapy water or turn over small areas of sod, allow birds to eat them, & replace. Remember, white grubs thrive in heavily fertilized Kentucky Bluegrass.

Chinch Bugs: Adults feed on sap from crowns & stems of lawn grasses which turn yellow and die off. Causes: dry, sunny lawns, excessive thatch, chemicals. Plant native trees and shrubs to shade your lawn and mix in some clover. Avoid using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that weaken your lawn. Use soapy water. (See below).

Instead of Using Chemical Fertilizers: Use organic compost, bone and blood meal, natural source fertilizers, manure, fish or canola seed meal, and spread evenly. Plant low growing white clover.

Instead of Using Fungicides: Keep areas clean and dry. Aerate soil. Allow soil to dry before watering. Avoid watering in evening.

Instead of Using Insecticides: Add 30 ml (2 Tbsp. ) of soap flakes to a litre of water and douse the problem area. Use ordinary soap flakes (not laundry detergent) or "Safer's Insecticidal Soap" and apply the solution with a watering can. Pesticides only relieve symptoms. Insects will never be eradicated. Nature provides its own pest control by birds, bats and insects feeding on "problem" species.

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