Pledge to be Pesticide Free this Spring!
By Sydney Boogaard, spring intern
Spring is around the corner and that means it’s time for many of us to get serious about yard and garden work.
Whether you’re making a new landscape plan, planting fruit trees, beautifying with ornamentals, growing veggies, or maintaining a lawn, we invite you to join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep the chemicals out of your yard!
You may recall that last November we announced this campaign, which is part of our work with the Healthy Babies Bright Future alliance. Our goal with this partnership is to empower community members to reduce exposures to certain chemicals– beginning with pesticides– that have been found risky and dangerous to babies in the first 1,000 days of life.
This spring, we’re posting regular tips and tricks on when and how to prep your lawn and garden without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Follow along, ask questions, and join us in creating a #PesticideFreeSLC!
So what do we mean by “Pesticide Free?” Pesticides are any herbicide, fungicide, rodenticide, or other chemical intended to kill pests or weeds. We include chemical fertilizers in our definition, as well.
Luckily– there are many safe, organic methods for keeping your lawn and garden looking great and flourishing.
You will also get an attractive yard sign as a symbol of your commitment. We expect it will also serve as an inspiration to others in your neighborhood to ask and learn more– and hopefully make their own Pesticide Free pledge.
Why should I go pesticide free?
Most fertilizers and pesticides are manufactured with harmful chemicals that even when used properly have an impact on our health.
Research continues to show that even regulated pesticides cause harm– and we haven’t studied all the effects.
Children are particularly susceptible.
They take in greater amounts of pesticides relative to their body weights than adults do. They ingest them in the food they eat and the air they breathe. Their little bodies are still developing, making them much more sensitive to these toxic exposures than an adult.
The health implications include birth defects, childhood cancers, acute poisoning, ADHD and asthma.
Pollinators and Pesticides
Our pollinators are also impacted by pesticide use — and this includes Utah’s beloved state insect. Chemicals in many pesticides reduce their defense systems, disrupt digestion, impair their navigation abilities, and limit their ability to reproduce.
Utah is proud to be the Beehive State! The honey bee is our state emblem. It is on our state flag and our state seal. It stands for hard work and industry. So let us work hard in protecting our beehives and bees! Their pollinating services are irreplaceable and a crucial part of Utah’s vibrant ecosystems.
But it’s more than just honeybees that are at risk from pesticides. Did you know there are 900 species of native bees that call Utah home? They are superior pollinators and are needed by Utah’s fruit trees, native plants, and other various crops.
In fact, pollinators provide pollinating assistance for the agriculture industry, contributing to more than $15 billion of dollars’ worth of food nationally. Without bees, we would lose broccoli, asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, watermelons, almonds, apples, cranberries, cherries, and of course honey. Can you imagine a hot summer’s day without watermelon or cantaloupe?
Let’s not forget FLOWERS! Bees and flowers rely on one another to survive.
It’s safe to say these busy little creatures are by far some of the most significant insects on this planet. So, join with us in thanking them by giving them the best shot at a long and productive life — say no to pesticides!
What can you do to keep your lawns and gardens healthy without the pesticides?
Moving away from pesticides is not hard, but it does entail a shift in thinking about our yards, gardens, and lawns. Instead of applying a product and forgetting about it, using organic methods means you’re committed to the health of your soil and your landcape’s larger ecosystem.
With healthy soils and healthy plants– you can fend off almost any pest.
Here are some tips, pulled straight from our guide:
- Improve your soil’s health to help facilitate healthy lawns and reduce weed growth.
- Add ¼ inch compost in early Spring and early Fall
- Mix liquid molasses with water and apply to grass. This feeds the healthy microbes in your soil, which makes your turf and plants healthier.
- Fertilize naturally by leaving grass clippings on the lawn and mulching with leaves
- Aerate your lawn to avoid compaction.
- Mow lawn to about 3-4 inches high.
- Don’t overwater your lawn and avoid watering during the heat of the day.
- Give your lawn 1 inch of water a week in May and September and 1.5 inches a week in the summer.
- Incorporate native plants into your landscape. Native plants are adapted to local conditions and aren’t easily out-competed by unwanted plants.
- Use natural pesticides. Neem oil or peppermint oil are great alternatives to chemical pesticides.
- Declutter yard and home to discourage pests.
- Remove standing water & open food sources.
Spread the word!
We hope you will take the pledge and make a commitment to our health, environment, and ecosystems.
Share this post on social media and use the hashtag #PesticideFreeSLC.
Talk to your friends and neighbors about how and why they should phase out pesticides!
And stay tuned for next week’s #PesticideFreeSLC tip. . .