Cutting back on chemicals for safer lawn care

VANCOUVER – Many people are rethinking gardening maintenance by avoiding lawn chemicals and fertilizers. There are some simple strategies you can use to improve the health of a lawn and make it safer for your family and the environment.

Susan Rubin has cultivated her garden without chemicals for 20 years and grows countless vegetables.

“I have a little baby pak choi, some salad,” she says. “And then I got some radishes.”

And she knows that a garden without synthetic chemicals requires some strategy and a holistic approach to improving soil health and preventing pest outbreaks before they occur.

It’s not that complicated at all, says Catherine Roberts of Consumer Reports.

“It may seem counter-intuitive, but cut down on watering your lawn,” she suggests. “If you water less, the grass is stimulated to form deeper roots and develop resistance to drought.”

And because watering at night can actually encourage fungal growth, be sure to water your lawn or garden only in the early morning.

While it gets a bad rap, clover is very good for your lawn. It adds nitrogen and keeps other lawn weeds at bay, so let it grow and help your lawn stay healthy.

When it’s time to mow, keep the grass a little higher at three or four inches. Keep your mower’s blades sharp and use mulching mode. This cuts the grass into fine clippings and puts them back in the ground. Clippings actually contain many of the same nutrients found in chemical-based fertilizers so you don’t have to use them.

When it comes to planting your garden, Roberts recommends sticking to native plants.

“Native plants evolved to grow exactly where they are,” she says. “And they will attract native birds as well as beneficial insects and pollinators.”

Lastly, if you have the space, add a compost heap or bin to recycle table waste and garden waste. You will be rewarded with nutrient-rich compost that will keep your plants and lawn thriving.

With files from Consumer Reports

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