Make Your Lawn Naturally Beautiful

You can have a beautiful, healthy and eco-friendly yard with these natural alternatives to common pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

| September 2008

  • Robin on Lawn
    Some lawn care chemicals are toxic to wildlife, including birds, bees and fish. You can make your yard "greener" by choosing natural alternatives.

  • Robin on Lawn

Is your lawn chemically dependent? Every year, many of us treat our yards with pesticides and fertilizers in hopes of creating a healthy and attractive lawn. The problem is that many of the products we use on our lawns aren’t good for us or for the environment. The good news is that there are simple, nontoxic alternatives that can keep your lawn healthy naturally. Some of them can even save you money!

What’s wrong with the usual fertilizers and pesticides?

Unfortunately, improperly used fertilizers can contribute to water pollution by contaminating groundwater and by encouraging algae growth in streams, which disrupts aquatic ecosystems. Pesticides cause problems, too — many are toxic to bees, birds, fish and other forms of wildlife. (This report from Beyond Pesticides has a great summary of environmental effects of different pesticides.)

Another cause for concern is that many common pesticides (and that category includes insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) have well-documented health risks including suspected roles in a number of kinds of cancer, as well as damage to the nervous system and developmental disorders. Even the common herbicide Roundup is associated with a number of health risks. Two good sources to learn more about the health risks of specific pesticides are the pesticide factsheets of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides  (NCAP) and the National Pesticide Information Center.

So what do you use instead of chemical pesticides and fertilizers? In fact, some of the most effective methods for maintaining a beautiful lawn are both simple and nontoxic.

Here are several strategies to consider:

1/9/2009 4:02:00 PM

My very neglected lawn was looking pretty sparse and ugly so on a hunch I threw some white clover seeds out early last year. What a difference! The bare spots filled in and the yard looked really nice for the first time in years. It even seemed to choke out the dandelions. I personally didn't mind the small white flowers and the bees and other insects loved them. To each their own, but I won't put chemicals on my yard or garden so this is a solution I can live with.

9/15/2008 12:56:04 PM

I've successfully used compost tea (diluted down 10:1 with water) to fertilize, using a pressurized sprayer. All the good nutrients are there, just soak it in the late afternoon.

Kimberly K
9/14/2008 6:29:06 AM

Soybean meal, alfalfa, ground corn, feather meal, blood meal are all things that will naturally fertilize your lawn. Some more cheaply than others. The NPK is different for each. You don't have to worry about burn and that means it isn't weather dependent. We get ours at our local feed store. I don't worry about kids or pets in the lawn.



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