By Larraine Roulston:
Will the perfect lawns of the future be ones that have a variety of greens and small blooming flowers that attract pollinators? Presently, most suburbanites prefer weed free lawns. Of course, children need to have a cleared area to play, but why does the lawn need to consist of 100% manicured grass?
Rather than accept nature, sadly, we have become accustomed to clearing out every weed with chemicals that are not only harmful to our health, our pets and pollinators, but also affect our drinking water, ground water and the soil. Children love to pick clover and buttercups, make dandelion and daisy chains and, in general, communicate with nature. As well, dandelions are edible. How did we ever decide that variety in shades of green is undesirable? If, however, you prefer to rid your lawn of its diversity, the best method is to dig out the weeds by the roots before they go to seed and put them into your compost heap, or to let them dry and add them to your mulch pile. On the other hand, you can find natural solutions using vinegar or salt and lemons commonly found in your own home rather than rely on hazardous herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. Try the following easy and affordable natural recipes.
Using a spray bottle, combine a 1-to-1 ratio of vinegar and concentrated lemon juice.
As well, you can opt for any of these mixtures:
- one cup vinegar to 1/2 cup of dish soap, being careful not to spray on grass or other plants;
- three tablespoons of vodka with 2 cups of water;
- one quart of water with 5 teaspoons of borax. A larger recipe suggests 10 ounces of powdered borax mixed with 2.5 gallons of water. Avoid saturating the soil or allowing the solution to contact bare skin; or
- a solution of baking soda with water will also do the trick.
White or cider vinegar can be poured directly onto the weeds or the ground surrounding them. Vinegar recipes will need to be re-applied every week, as vinegar does not actually kill the roots. Instead, repeated applications drain the plants’ resources, and their roots will eventually perish.
Boiling salt water works equally well, as does the mixture of 1 quart of boiling water with 5 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt. Just plain boiling water or salt alone sprinkled around the plant is an option. Boiling water is a very effective method to eliminate weeds in driveway and sidewalk cracks, or over an area where you wish to create a garden, as it does not leave any harmful residue.
Deprive weeds of sunlight and air by covering them with a plastic bag or newspaper anchored down with a rock.
Poison ivy can be tackled by mixing 1 quart of vinegar with 1/4 teaspoon of clove and/or cinnamon oil applied until the plant completely dies. When dealing with poison ivy, be sure always to cover your hands, mouth, eyes and nose first, and to thoroughly wash your hands and clothes afterwards.
Across the globe, the impact of pesticides is on scientific research agendas, and we are now well aware that Monarch butterflies as well as bees are in jeopardy. Milkweed is needed for the Monarch’s very survival. We depend heavily on our pollinators since approximately 1/3 of our food depends on them. Let the pollinators depend on us to do our very best to protect them.
Plan “A” — stop relying on toxic chemicals.
Next, go to Plan “Bee,” and keep a little character and charm in your lawn.
Larraine authors a children’s adventure book series on composting at www.castlecompost.com