Articles written for various community newspapers in the Lower Mainland, B.C. and special interest print and online magazines

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Keep your 'Eco' in check - How to Green Your Backyard

Mothers can give themselves a big burping pat on the back for changing the laws in several municipalities around B.C. which quash the use of chemical pesticides. However, despite Ontario and Quebec passing province-wide pesticide bans, several areas in B.C. still allow its use and crawling babes getting their first dose of grass-stains are at the highest risk to certain cancers. So protect your precious wee garden gnome by employing the following tips, ensuring the only footprint you are leaving is a muddy one.

Nutri Lawn practices integrated pest management as an alternative to using chemicals. While it might be tempting to eliminate all critters to keep your crawler safe, some pests are necessary for a balanced ecosystem. To get rid of grubs they use natural parasite nematodes.

Instead of fertilizer, sprinkling new grass seed down every spring thickens the lawn and prevents weeds from rearing their ugly heads. Organic corn gluten fertilizer only costs 10 per cent more than traditional fertilizers. Aerating and spiking lawns early in the season encourages deep roots making for healthier growth.

Also, if you’re starting a lawn or backyard garden in a new home, grasses and plants native to the area of B.C. are more resilient and pest-resistant. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, sometimes planting just grass is not the best material depending on the climate. Visit David Digs My Garden.

Available at Lee Valley, a push-mower is a safer, easier on your baby’s ears, helps you burn off the last of the baby fat and is better for the environment than gas-powered mowers.

Take the easy route: leaving the grass clippings on the lawn actually acts as fertilizer as it releases natural nitrogen. Clover is also a good nitrogen source. Cut less: longer grass also helps keep the soil moist and weeds from getting light and shorter grasses require more water.

If your green thumb still isn’t working, take a soil sample into a nursery to see what it needs. Other best-kept secrets are using fish emulsion and earthworm casings. Beer gets rid of garden slugs…just be sure your little one sticks to the right bottle.

Many urban municipal governments have guidelines available for greening your backyard. The City of Vancouver, for example, sells subsidized rain barrels for water collection – better for plants than chlorinated water – for $75 as well as backyard composters for $25. If compost turns your stomach, make mulch of last years’ leaves. It reduces the need for water, is nutrient-rich and controls the temperature.

Those who would like to become more active in the effort to change pesticide use legislation in B.C. can visit Toxic Free Canada.

1 comment:

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