a healthy lawn and garden not only makes a home more
attractive, it also has environmental benefits. Flower
and vegetable gardens can be homegrown and pesticide-free
sources of food and inspiration. Healthy lawns, coupled
with trees and shrubs, can help prevent soil erosion. The
care and attention you give to proper gardening,
landscaping, and yard care can pay dividends to both your
health and the environment.
first thought, lawn care might not seem like a major
contributor to pollution. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, however, estimates that 17 million
gallons of fuel are spilled each year just in refueling
small enginesmore than the Exxon Valdez spilled in
the Gulf of Alaska accident in 1989and that 10
percent of all air pollution is caused by our
nations 89 million small engines. In fact, one hour
of operating a gas-powered mower generates as much
pollution as driving a new car for eleven hours.
All homeowners can help
Vermonts wildlife, forests, lakes, rivers, and
ponds by maintaining their lawns and gardens in an
environmentally conscious manner.
Consider these one dozen ways you can
care for your lawn and garden:
- Use organic gardening
techniques, such as netting or companion
planting to keep insects from plants, pull weeds
instead of using herbicides, and cover your
garden with plastic in the fall to prevent weed
germination. Many commercial pesticides and
herbicides are poisons that may cause serious
damage to your skin, eyes, nervous and
respiratory systems, and internal organs. Applied
around the home, many pesticides and herbicides
build up in plants and soil and in the organisms
that eat those plants. As they work their way up
the food chain, they may become more
concentrated. If you feel you must use chemical
pesticides, be sure you know the identity of the
pest you want to control, purchase the right
product, and carefully follow label directions.
compost made of decomposed leaves, grass
clippings, animal manure, vegetable trimmings,
and kitchen vegetable waste to fertilize plants
and enrich garden soils. Never use chemical
fertilizers near a well or body of water.
- An effective, general
purpose insect repellent can be made by
blending six cloves of crushed garlic, one minced
onion, one tablespoon dried hot pepper, and one
teaspoon pure soap in four quarts hot water. Let
the mixture sit one to two days and strain before
spraying on plants. Or, place one cigarette in
one quart water overnight, strain, and spray.
help control soil erosion, but their care and
maintenance can contribute indirectly to both air
and water pollution. One significant way of
reducing pollution related to the care of your
lawn is to use a reel mower rather than a
power mower. Manual yard tools, such as
clippers, are especially handy for small jobs.
- If a reel mower
isnt practical for your yard and you need a
power mower, make sure you change your
lawnmowers oil and clean or replace its air
filters regularly. Get periodic tune-ups,
maintain sharp mower blades, and keep the
underside of the deck clean. Also, avoid
spilling gasoline when refueling your mower.
soil tests every three to four years to
determine the amount of nutrients necessary for a
healthy lawn. Contact your local soil
conservation district for more information and
- Don't give your lawn a
crew cut. Clipping the lawn too short or too
frequently weakens the grass and allows weeds to
grow faster. And leave the grass clippings on the
lawn to serve as a natural fertilizer, or compost
them along with other yard wastes.
mow your entire backyard. Even a small amount
of lawn allowed to go wild can provide habitat
for many small wildlife species, including
songbirds and butterflies.
- Consult your local
nursery for advice on selecting plants suited
for the site characteristics. Use mulch to
reduce weed growth and evaporation.
over-watering your lawn or garden. Excessive
watering can cause chemicals to leach into
groundwater and can make plants more prone to
- Bar and chain oil made
from canola or sunflower oil has superior
lubricating qualities and is non-carcinogenic.
and below-ground pools require sanitizers and
algicides to maintain water clarity and to ensure
proper water quality. To prevent pool-related
pollution, use bromine-based sanitizers rather
than chlorine-based pool sanitizers. Dispose
of pool acid at a household hazardous waste
collection event or program.