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
The week of June 18-24, 2018 is designated National Pollinator Week by the Pollinator Partnership and the U.S. Senate! Hopefully you made it out to this last weekend’s Bee Festival hosted by CATALYST magazine to help kick it off and celebrate our diverse community of pollinators – bees, butterflies, birds, moths, wasps, and more!
Why Celebrate Pollinators?
Pollinator species, such as the classic honeybee, help fertilize plants that keep ecosystems thriving and crops producing. Farmers depend on them to help produce high yielding, delicious food.
All species also rely on pollinators for increasing carbon sequestration, preventing soil erosion, keeping plants reproducing, and acting as a food source for other species.Read more
Trees in the park strip are City-owned trees. Please do not alter these trees, which comprise SLC’s 85,000 strong urban forest. Our Division of Urban Forestry will prune, remove, and plant trees in the park strip. Call (801) 972-7818 to request service.
by Sydney Boogaard, SLCgreen intern
It’s a beautiful summer’s day as you walk through the neighborhood with your favorite furry friend at your side. The shade from the trees helps cool the summer heat as you pad along… sound like a lovely afternoon? We think so. And we have our vibrant urban forest to say thank you to.
Our urban forest comprises nearly 85,000 public trees, including 63,000 street trees and 22,000 trees that reside in our city’s parks and open spaces. These indispensable trees are cared for and maintained by Salt Lake City’s Urban Forestry Division.
Why are Urban Forests Important?
A 2010 census reported that nearly eighty-one percent of Americans now live in urban centers. This means urban forests are becoming more important than ever. They provide essential benefits to our populations and wildlife. Urban trees contribute to cleaning our air, filtering our water, controlling storm water, conserving energy, and providing shade for us and our local animal life. Not to mention, they are aesthetically pleasing, strengthen social structures, and add significant economic value to our communities.
The majority of these trees are located in park strips. So, you may ask, what is the park strip, why is it there, and what do you do with it?