Snow coming; I’m thinking pesticide-free lawn

February 12, 2007

Just as we’re prepping for what may be the first “significant” snow of the season, I happened to be looking up info about public communication campaigns on the Chesapeake Bay Program website, in conjunction with a course I’m teaching this semester. Couple of years or so ago, to reach sophisticated urban types who don’t necessarily think automatically in terms of their actions having a direct impact on the Bay, CBP started a fun kind of marketing effort called the Chesapeake Club. It mixes home, food, day trip and other lifestyle activities as a tool to drive home the message in ways this audience can relate to easily.

CC is hip, urbane, suave — just what savvy denizens of the DC area can groove on. And if you’re a homeowner, it all begins with your yard. Yes, your yard. So you like that perfectly manicured, shiny green look for your turf and shrubs? Like what Chem-Lawn or Tru-Green can do for you?

Well, STOP! You may think you’re doing something beautiful, but the pesticides you’re having applied can — and do — have harmful impacts on both the plant and insect life on your property, as well as on the air you and I breathe. Have a pet? Your companions can pick up harmful residues on their paws, not nice if the animal takes to licking it off.

Cause for concern? Can you do something about it? You bet. Support the Chesapeake Club Standard for lawn treatments, if you absolutely must have them. Consider not fertilizing your lawn this spring, but doing so only in the fall, when any run-off to the Bay will have a significantly less detrimental effect. Find out about changing the acid content of your soil by using lime, or adding iron to enhance the green. Let compost do some natural fertilizing work for you instead of chemicals. Or take the lazy gardener’s way out and do nothing; leave the whole job to Mother Nature.

childrenplay.jpgA neighborhood in DC gives residents small signs to display in their yards, similar to those that indicate the date a lawn was treated. These signs say something like “Pesticide-free lawn — safe for children and pets.” Sounds terrific to me. I’m making up my own.

Next step: Educate my neighbors on either side who use the commercial treatment services that probably spill over a little into our yard. Grrrr!


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