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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Toxic Brew in Our Yards

 The United States Fish and Wildlife Service says homeowners use up to 10 times more chemicals per acre than farmers do. Some of these chemicals rub off on children or pets, but most are washed with rainwater into our streams, lakes and rivers or are absorbed into our groundwater. These are the sources of our drinking water, and tests show these chemicals are indeed contaminating our water supply.

"What we put on our lawns and down our drains winds up in our drinking water, and it is not removed by water treatment. Bottled water is not a solution because it comes from the same sources and is susceptible to the same contaminants. But if we don’t put these chemicals in our yards, they won’t be in our drinking water. In the last decade or so, plenty of homeowners have been rejecting the emerald green lawn and planting with species that do not demand chemicals and constant watering. But not nearly enough of us have taken that step. We need to see a perfect lawn not as enviable, but a sign of harm. 

Natural care of our yards and gardens is surprisingly easy. Increasing diversity in a lawn by adding clover helps supply nutrition naturally because clover fixes nitrogen from the air and makes it available to other plants. Leaving grass clippings not only returns nitrogen to the lawn, but also prevents it from drying out. Letting grass grow to four inches allows the roots to grow long so the grass can absorb more water and excess nutrients during a storm, and withstand a drought. Plants that are native to your region require less water and care and support animals and wildlife, so you will see more birds and butterflies."