With this year’s drought, growing water-wise, pollinator-friendly yards is more important than ever. Whether you’re investing in water conservation landscaping or working on maintaining the vitality of your lawn after our extreme summer, going pesticide free can help keep your yard – and community – healthy and flourishing.
Pesticides can pose health risks, especially for children, pregnant women, and older populations. Many pesticides are also linked to declines in bird and pollinator populations. Eliminating the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers is a great step towards protecting our community from harmful chemicals.
Establishing a healthy organic yard may require a little extra work up front, and fall is the perfect time to get started!
We’ve gathered some of our best tips and resources to help you restore soil health in your yard and eliminate pesticides in your lawn care. Check it out!
As you plan your Earth Day fun, remember that Earth Day doesn’t have to be limited to April 22. We all can reduce our impact every day.
This year we thought it’d be fun to imagine taking advantage of many of Salt Lake City’s programs to help lead a more sustainable life. Come along for the ride. . . perhaps you’ll discover something new . . .
You can also make your garden healthier for the whole community – pets and pollinators included. You may have seen the little green Pesticide Free hexagonal signs in your neighborhood. Salt Lake City residents are taking steps to grow beautiful gardens without toxic chemicals. Going pesticide free can help you keep your family and neighbors healthy, and your yard safe for pollinators– we still have plenty of signs, so take the pledge and request yours today! We’ll deliver it to your home for free.
Have an item you’re not sure what to do with? Check out our specialty recycling page to see if it can be recycled through a special program.
Using low-flow shower heads saves energy and water. Switching to LED light bulbs can reduce up to 500 pounds of CO2 annually, while using cold water for washing your clothes saves 1,270 pounds annually! Find more energy saving tips on SLCgreen’s Household Energy Action Tips.
Although going 100% vegan is a great way to help shrink your carbon footprint, limiting animal products a few times a week is also impactful.
Reducing food waste is also an often-overlooked way to reduce potent methane emissions and help others.
Does all this snow have some of you daydreaming about spring and gardening?
Luckily spring is just around the corner, and now is a great time to start planning a pesticide free yard, garden, and home! Pesticides are often used on lawns and in gardens to limit weeds and associated pests. Unfortunately, pesticides (including herbicides, rodenticides, insecticides, and fungicides) have negative health impacts on people and the environment.
Being pesticide free means choosing methods of controlling these weeds and pests in ways that are healthy for the environment and for you and your family!
Salt Lake City has been working with Healthy Babies Bright Futures since 2016 to reduce exposures to harmful chemicals—many of which we unknowingly come in contact with on a daily basis. A common source of harmful chemical exposure is through pesticides and lawn fertilizer use. Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department partnered with Beyond Pesticides to create a public resource guide for a less toxic approach to pest management and lawn care.
Why are pesticides an issue?
Chemical pesticide use and exposure have been shown to have negative health effects on humans. Serious health effects of pesticide exposure include birth defects, childhood cancer, acute poisoning, brain tumors, and asthma. Avoiding pesticides in your yards will help protect the health of our communities.
In Utah, the Showy Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed are the most common milkweed species. Adult monarchs and other pollinators also benefit from having other native nectar-rich plants around. You can order milkweed seeds from Save Our Monarchs or your favorite seed seller. Find more information about Utah’s native plants here!
Another way to support monarch conservation is by becoming a Citizen Scientist. Help track milkweed and monarchs throughout the state and contribute to our scientific understanding of monarch populations and habitats. By protecting monarchs, we support biodiversity in our local environments.
Winter is coming to a close as we begin to pack away our heavy coats and gloves. We may be sad to see the skis go back into the basement, but soon we’ll bring out the mountain bikes and hiking shoes. And as the temperature begins to rise we can head back into our gardens and yards.
Our trees and plants have been snoozing the winter away and it is time for them to wake back up. Just like us, our trees are a little groggy and sleepy, from their long nap. The harsh elements of the winter have damaged and weakened their branches and stems. This makes them even more susceptible to pest invasion. Nonetheless, with a little tender loving care we can help rejuvenate our trees, keeping them strong, happy, healthy and pesticide free.
Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our yards healthy and our bodies safe! Check out our resource guide for tips and visit our past blogs on organic landscaping to get started.
. . . Fall is an important time of year for employing organic and sustainable gardening methods.
Preparing for next year– Be Pesticide Free!
The fall is a key part of the gardening cycle because it allows us to prepare our garden for the winter and sets us up for a productive spring and summer.
Most pesticides and fertilizers used today are produced with harmful chemicals that even when applied correctly can have adverse effects on the environment, pollinators, and human health.
But don’t worry– there are plenty of ways to have a healthy garden and lawn without using noxious chemicals.
Leave the Leaves
Not all leaves need to be raked up and disposed of immediately:
Consider that your leaves are a free fertilizer and weed suppressant! This makes them perfect for organic gardening.
Leaves also provide important winter habitat for butterflies, bees, and other beneficial bugs.
Finally, “leaving your leaves” reduces emissions associated with polluting leaf blowers. Keeping leaves out of the landfill also prevents the generation of potent methane emissions.
So how can you use leaves?
Use whole leaves around perennials, trees and bushes, or lightly layered on lawn (they may need to be shredded first). You can also create a leaf pile that will decompose into “leaf mold“– a rich, valuable compost amendment to be used in warmer months. Or– if you’re like me– simply pile your leaves on your vegetable garden bed and turn them into the soil in the spring before planting.
And if you still have too many leaves, use your curbside compost can to dispose of them (please keep them out of the gutters and storm drains). If you have a lot of leaves, give us a shout and we’ll help you get an extra container or two.
Use organic amendments to improve the health of your soil
Materials like the aforementioned leaves, as well as other compost, manure, bone meal, etc. can be used to balance the pH of your soil and will release nutrients into the soil to create a vibrant ecosystem and help your garden grow. Mulches can also be great for keeping weeds down, retaining moisture, and feeding the soil. Other organic soil enhancers, like coffee grounds, tea bags, and even newspaper can be an important tool in keeping your garden thriving. Learn more about amending your soil. Read more
Since last spring, little green hexagonal signs have been blooming in Salt Lake City gardens. These Pesticide Free Yard signs are part of the Salt Lake City Pesticide Free Campaign in partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF). HBBF encourages residents to protect our families and the environment by eliminating pesticide use.
Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department teamed up with Beyond Pesticides to guide residents who want to keep their gardens beautiful without using harmful chemicals. And it’s working! Since 2018, over 340 individuals have pledged to go pesticide free.
And even though summer is coming to a close, you can still go pesticide free in your yard. Eliminating your use of toxic chemicals is a year-round challenge that will protect your family and neighborhood.
Pollinators: we need them! And this Saturday, June 15, you can join Catalyst Magazine, Wasatch Community Gardens, and Slow Food Utah to help celebrate pollinators at the 9th Annual Bee Fest.
The event, which kicks off Pollinator Week (June 17-23), will be abuzz with pollinator activities including poetry readings, bee-friendly craft projects, games, and even an all-ages costume contest. If you care about pollinators, you won’t want to miss Bee Fest!
We’ll be there tabling and discussing our Pesticide Free SLC campaign. Come by, say hi, and pick up your free yard sign to show your commitment to chemical-free yard care that supports pollinators (and our health and environment).
On April 13, Stonyfield Yogurt will host a “Field Day” of fun-filled family activities for the general public to enjoy, which celebrates a new program and collaboration with the City.
Bouncy houses, games, music, free organic yogurt and other activities will be located between playing fields at the Regional Athletic Complex and are open to all. Education about organic field maintenance will also take place at a fun “Edutainment Cart” featuring interactive and educational activities for kids and parents.
At 1 pm Mayor Jackie Biskupski will receive a donation of $5,000 from Stonyfield Organic yogurt to support the Pesticide Free SLC program. It will be used to convert two fields at the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex (RAC) to organic land care maintenance methods.
The company will also pledge an additional $40,000 to cover technical services to implement and identify best management practices that could be scaled up at the RAC, with the goal of making it the first sports complex in the nation with professional-grade fields being maintained through organic maintenance practices.
What: “Field Day of Fun!” to Celebrate Organic Land Care with Stonyfield Organic
The initiative is aimed at reducing overall chemical use in the Salt Lake City community and includes both a municipal and public focus. Building off the best management practices already employed by the Parks Division for the maintenance of all municipal parks and fields, the City has been piloting organic land care methods at both Laird and Madsen parks since 2017.
The support of Stonyfield will give Salt Lake City its largest organically-maintained lawn areas to date, with the focus on high-visibility and heavy-use spaces.
This Halloween, we’re featuring spiders on the blog! But not to scare you. In fact, we thought Halloween would be the perfect opportunity to shed some (not-so-spooky) light on these creepy crawlies.
Our eight-legged friends (yes – you read that right) top the list of the most misunderstood helpers and are labeled as pests. Entomologists are working hard to change the public’s perception of spiders through education and outreach. After all, we are less likely to be afraid of something that we are familiar with and spiders have an important ecological role as the top invertebrate predator.
Spiders evolved 380 million years ago (long before the dinosaurs) and are believed to be the first animals to live on land. They are living fossils that evolved from an underwater ancestor that makes them closer cousins to a horseshoe crab than an insect.
Spiders are often lumped together with insects even though they are very different creatures. Spiders are in the same phylum (Arthropods) as insects, because they have a segmented body. To put that in perspective, humans are in the same phylum (Chordata) as hagfish, and obviously, other than a hollow nerve cord, we are nothing like a hagfish. The differences are that big!
Without spiders, we would be waist deep in other insects!! Spiders eat an astronomical amount of bugs – somewhere in the range of 880 million tons of bugs a year!
Fear and loathing
You can Google hundreds of news articles about car wrecks and house fires caused by people’s fear of spiders. Just a few days ago, there was a house fire in California where a man burnt down his parent’s house trying to kill a black widow. While there is research that shows some people are born with an innate fear of spiders, other people raise them as pets. Read more